New Kids are back on the old block

When Take That chose to call it a day in 1996 pop fans and the media mourned the loss of one of the most famous boy bands to have graced Top Of The Pops.

It was a different story when in 1994 the boy band who started it all, New Kids On The Block – comprised of Joey, Donny, Danny, Jordan and Jonathan – decided to do the same. As Joey states: “We just sort of walked away. And at that point, we weren’t exactly going to hold a press conference because no one really cared.”

The downfall of New Kids On The Block’s career wasn’t strongly documented at the time, but with hindsight makes quite the Hollywood blockbuster.

Five teenage friends from a rough area in Boston formed a pop group and soon became a global phenomenon. Selling 70 million albums was just the start. Teen girls had to have the badges, lunch boxes, mugs, watches, annuals and T-shirts – the group were no longer just a boy band but a brand.

However as quickly as they’d established themselves as constant chart-toppers, the public lost interest and the industry that had pronounced them a pop success story no longer wanted anything to do with them. Now looking for the Hollywood ending, the five have decided to reform. This time it seems the public definitely does care.

A new album, The Block, is out now and a tour will bring the band to Birmingham NIA on January 17 next year.

Donny Wahlberg (brother of Mark) has arguably gone on to enjoy the greatest success since leaving the music industry, as an actor. So it’s surprising that it was his idea for the group to reform.

He says: “I heard this particular song and it sounded right. I was near to Jordan in Boston while I was working on a film in Connecticut. I was going through a lot in my personal life and music just seemed like a good idea. The song sounded good for the group and the guys reacted in the same way. I said, ‘Okay then let’s record it’. One song led to another, which led to another, which led to an addiction.

“Once I started writing, spending time in the studio and getting back into the music business again, I couldn’t really turn it off, it became a 20-hour-a-day obsession.”

The other four were just as enthusiastic, albeit with an air of caution. Jonathan says: “Back in the day it was directed by people who wanted to capitalise on us and they didn’t really take into account the longevity or integrity of the group.”

Jordan adds: “Yeah we made that mistake, we were only youngsters and unfortunately we signed one piece of paper and boom we gave away the sign-off and our managers went a little crazy. It commercialised us a little too much, but what are you going to do? This time the buck stops with us.”

This time around they have decided to try to do as much in-house as possible. Danny says: “Donny took on a manager’s role and that was easier as he’s in the group and always has our interests in mind. Everyone brought their own life experiences from the past 15 years to it and it’s made it a lot easier.”

Ticket Info

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK January 17, 2009: NIA, Birmingham Tickets: 0844 338 8000.