In 2009, I was working at a newspaper in South Georgia, fresh out of college, when the Backstreet Boys booked a show on their “This Is Us” tour at the local theme park. It was also where I happened to be a freelance concert photographer.
Thanks to my main job as a journalist, I got to interview Howie Dorough, who many might not know, has strong South Georgia connections.
Check out my interview which was published June 1, 2010 (while I was actually in Orlando seeing the boys before their trip to Valdosta). Remember, this is when the group was a foursome, before Kevin came back in 2010.
VALDOSTA — Backstreet’s back.
In reality, the vocal group was never really gone, and they will prove that Saturday night when they take the stage at Wild Adventures.
The group has sold over 130 million albums worldwide and is one of the best-selling vocal groups of all time. Their sophomore U.S. release, “Millennium,” which featured the singles “I Want It That Way” and “Larger Than Life,” is one of the top 10 best-selling albums of all time.
While they may not be the boy band that they were in the late 1990’s, the group has matured — not only in age but in sound.
The group’s “This Is Us” tour, named after their latest album, which takes the guys back to their original rhythm and blues-influenced pop music style, has already hit many places around the world — Europe, Russia, Japan, India, Korea, Australia, China and even a show in the United Arab Emirates.
The United States/Canadian leg of the tour, according to Backstreet’s Howie Dorough, will be the same.
“We put together a great tour that we’re really proud of and we’re (taking) it all around the world with us,” Howie told The Valdosta Daily Times.
“It’s a very entertaining show for our fans, to come out and hear some of our greatest hits, as well as the new album, and hopefully take them on a trip down memory lane. Hopefully, (we can) give them a chance to get them away from whatever is happening at home for a good experience.”
The tour, while simple, features the four members of the group — Howie Dorough, along with Nick Carter, Brian Littrell and A.J. McLean — a DJ and four back-up dancers. There is a lot of dancing and theatrics. The show is a mix of new songs and old songs, including their very first single, “We’ve Got It Goin’ On,” which they haven’t performed live in years.
The first single off the album, “Straight Through My Heart (Soldier Down),” while catchy with a dark, vampire-themed video, didn’t top the radio charts, but the group has no doubts when it comes to their new music.
“I think we would have liked to have our song played a little more on Top 40 radio,” Howie said. “As an artist, you put your heart and soul in creating a body of work. You want people to hear it. Thank God we have our fans out there who will find our music wherever it is. It would be nice to once again have the masses out there hear our music. We believe in our music and we believe in our product and we have loyal fans that are there for us, and whether it’s radio played or not radio played, we’re fortunate to provide music that way.”
Howie, the oldest member of the group, also has a connection to South Georgia.
His father, the late Hoke Dorough, who passed away two years ago this month, is originally from Cordele. Howie also owns the new Country Inn & Suites in Cordele as a part of his expanding real estate ventures.
“I have family not far from you guys up in Cordele. We drive up from Florida, all the way up to Valdosta. We always get off at that exit every so often and eat at the Japanese steakhouse,” he said.
He expects his family to come down to the concert since it’s the first time the group has performed in South Georgia.
“They would always have to drive to Atlanta to see me. I don’t know what they’re going to do. All the woodwork is going to open up and it’ll be all Doroughs,” he laughed.
For Howie, family has become much more important to him since the arrival of his son, James Hoke Dorough, last May.
Touring has also been a drastic change for him.
“My wife (Leigh) and son come out with me every so often,” he said. “They were on the tour with me over in Europe. We shared a bus together with Brian and his family. It was during the time when … (my son) was a little bit younger and he would wake up during the night. My sleep has definitely lessened a little since he’s been around … but it’s great. I’m enjoying the tour in a different light now. It’s almost like we have an extra body with us. Now, it’s not just about me and my wife, enjoying our days off. Now, we have a child and we think about things that we can do with him.”
In April and May, the Backstreet Boys performed two live and up-close acoustic shows in California and New York while in the area doing promotion for the new tour.
“This was just a little thing for the fans to see us more than just on TV,” Howie said. “We all had so much fun with them … We love doing the private, intimate concerts that give the chance for the fans to get close to us.”
Since “This Is Us” was released last fall, the group has already started talking about their next album.
While their main focus right now is the tour, they have discussed writing songs and coming up with concepts and directions for the new albums.
“We haven’t gotten into the studio yet, so it’s all prep work right now,” Howie said. “We haven’t really reached out to any producers in particular right now. Everybody’s enjoying the break right now, but when we get back out on tour, the ideas will start flowing.”
Unfortunately, that album will not be with their longtime label, Jive.
In an announcement that was posted on their official site, www.backstreetboys.com, on May 27, the band announced that the split was “amicable” and the group was very excited for what the future holds for the Backstreet Boys.