New Kids on the Block leader says bond between group, fans still strong; Group set to perform at The Palace of Auburn Hills

by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | Flint Journal contributing writer Friday October 24, 2008, 9:33 AM

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan -- After New Kids on the Block's 14-year hiatus, Donnie Wahlberg said he was shocked by the chemistry that remained between the group and its fans.

"It's pretty intense between us and the fans," the soft-spoken Wahlberg said. "That's the part that's sort of shocking everyone. The emotional kicker is the bond between us and the fans."

He's also flattered that fans will spend their hard-earned cash and free time with New Kids on the Block, which recently released the album "The Block." In turn, the act -- which also includes Joey McIntyre, Jonathan Knight, Jordan Knight and Danny Wood --has "set out to give them everything they could hope for with this show -- the old, the new, the balance of both.

"It's not dull," Wahlberg added. "It's not overly self-indulgent. It's a very unselfish show, to be honest with you. That was our goal: To give people their money's worth. I think that's what you can expect -- to get just that and more. We could say, 'Hey, we're going to give you value. We're going to give you two hours. We're going to kick a--. We're going to do every song we can imagine. We're going to do every dance step that you remember and tons of new dance steps.'"

When asked if it feels good to be back on stage after the long break, Wahlberg said it's just another creative process.

"I always feel like I'm on stage," said Wahlberg, the veteran of such movies as "Righteous Kill," "The Sixth Sense" and the "Saw" franchise. "Even if I'm acting, I'm somewhat on a stage. But it's so much about where you are. It's about what you're doing. When I'm on stage, I'm being creative and performing, and if I'm on a movie set I'm doing the same thing. That feeling is always a very satisfying and rewarding feeling."

Wahlberg explained it wasn't difficult to put his movie career on hold for New Kids on the Block. If the goal would have been to re-create the old times, it would have been different.

"It wasn't difficult because the goals were to make music, to make new music, to make an album. I was feeling very passionate about writing songs and being creative in a different way than acting for a little while," said Wahlberg, who just separated from his wife and lost his father. "I think certain changes taking place in my life certainly probably lit that fire. If it was just a reunion of doing old songs and the same old stuff, yeah, I would not have put my career on hold for that. I don't go backward in life; I go forward. In order to work with the New Kids, it had to be in a way that was going to create forward momentum for me."

Because of his life-changing events, now was the perfect time to reignite the New Kids on the Block flame. He said he reunited the guys because he believed the project would work.

"I believed we could put a great album together and put a great tour together," he said. "I think we had the maturity to not worry about the things we can't control. You can spend 11 months, 12 months saying, 'What if no one comes?' 'What if no one comes?' 'What if the fans don't react?' If we make a great album, and they don't react well, then we made a great album and we can feel good about that."

The fruit of his and his group's labor is "The Block," which he calls "the perfect next chapter" in New Kids on the Block's career. The album spawned the hit "Summertime" and the next single called "Single," on which Ne-Yo appears.

"I think we did a better job this time of balancing the different musical sensibilities in the group with the tried and true New Kids sound," Wahlberg said.