The Backstreet Boys Talk Holidays, “Leaning On Each Other” During Tough Times, And Sweet Childhood Christmas Memories By Aaron Carter

The Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson.  (Photo: JCPenney)

Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys. (Photo: JCPenney)

The Backstreet Boys just released their very first Christmas album, A very hidden Christmasand it is surprising that they took so long. After all, their boy band peers — New Kids on the Block, *NSYNC, Hanson, 98 Degrees — released their jingle bell pop collections many seasons ago.

“We have been busy – for, ahem, for 30 years! BSB’s Nick Carter jokes to Yahoo Entertainment via Zoom, sitting on set right before their “JCP Live Holiday Spectacular” live stream with JCPenney, which Carter’s bandmate Kevin Richardson describes as “a variety show-meets-game- meet-fundraising-meet-telethon” in collaboration with Feeding America. The quintet will also make up for lost time with a more traditional television special, A very backstreet getawayComing to ABC and Disney+ December 14th.

“Hand, [making a holiday album] it was one of our things to do,” continues Carter. “We grew up listening to Christmas songs, Christmas songs. They were in all of our homes when we grew up and are special to us. We’ve talked about it for years. … These classic songs aren’t just our favorites, they’re all out there. And so we wanted to do our best with that. We are really proud of this album. Now it’s on the charts, and this is the first time we’ve had an adult contemporary hit — with ‘Last Christmas’ — since ‘I Want It That Way.’”

“And I just want to add that I feel like this Christmas album happened at the perfect time in our lives and where we are as men, because I feel like the thought and heart and soul that we put into the record, it just wouldn’t have been the same if we were 20,” notes Richardson. “Like, we’re fathers now. We have life experience. And I think you hear that on the album.

As the Backstreet Boys have evolved into men over their long career, they’ve truly experienced the ups and downs of life – and Carter suffered a major loss right before the holidays, with the tragic death of his younger brother, the pop star Aaron Carter, Nov. 5. As Nick sits with his bandmates — Richardson, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean and Brian Littrell — he says they’re “leaning on each other” during this difficult time, but he seems happy to share a loving Carter family recollection of Christmas on Aaron.

“Actually, I was telling the kids…we were getting ready to do our ABC Christmas special and we were sharing some stories, and I didn’t get the opportunity to share this story,” Nick tells Yahoo Entertainment. “But when we were touring Europe, I was about 15, and we were always in Europe for about three, four years before we really broke up [in America]. And every time we were on stage, things were being thrown at us, and there were all these stuffed animals being thrown at us. This is when we started; we were just trying to do our best and we didn’t have much at the time. So, I collected all these stuffed animals and packaged them. It was like a couple days before we got home for Christmas, and I packed them all up and put them in this bag, and I literally had this huge bag on a plane. I tossed it in the trash up there and took it home.

“And that night, I was a little older so I could help my parents decorate and prepare things, wait for me to help. So I was “Saint Nick” that night. I decorated everything, and I remember fixing these little footprints coming out of the fireplace, and I put these cookies out and I had a bite of them. The next morning, all my brothers and sisters woke up and were so excited to see all these stuffed animals under the tree. And I actually put on a Santa suit and went out dressed as Santa, and it was just a good time.

Carter empathizes with other people who are hurting this holiday season, and because he has a strong support system with his bandmates, he also takes a moment to offer some kind advice to anyone out there who is feeling lonely or sad. “There are many people in this world who are going through dark times in their lives,” he says. “And I encourage everyone out there to find someone — pick up a phone, call someone — and meet anyone, the people you love the most. It sure can be one of those times during the year, but just know that there are people out there for you.

The Backstreet Boys have always stood by each other through tough times, and they continue to work A very hidden Christmas was another example of this. “The silver lining during the pandemic was that we had to stop for a while, so we got into the studio together,” Carter explains. “We hadn’t seen each other for about six to eight months. We decorated the studio in LA in the middle of the summer to look like Christmas: We had trees, we had Christmas logs, we had music, we had eggnog, and we had it all there in the heat of the summer. And we picked our favorite songs, the things we love the most, and then we started recording them. And it took some time, but I think it’s also a good thing that it took some time, because we were able to perfect it as well. You know, we’re a harmony singing band, so we were really able to get intricate harmonies into all of these songs – make them our own, make them really special.

“People are so hungry for entertainment. They are so hungry to be together. They want to feel good right now. They just want to be together,” Carter continues. “And I think that’s what the Backstreet Boys stand for: a good time in people’s lives. … And that’s what we’re giving them. We are giving them an escape from all the shit in the world and just to reunite.

And now, thirty years into their career, the Backstreet Boys are celebrating with their first full-length holiday record and still notching up hits. Did they ever envision this future for themselves when they were just starting out, making a living on the road and hoarding stuffed animals?

“We had hoped, when we signed up for this 30 years ago, that we’d want to have a career”, points out Littrell. “At the end of the day, when you’re in the music business, it’s not about a flash in the pan, it’s not about a one-hit wonder, it’s not about the flavor of the month, or whatever it is. It’s kind of like sharing your goal, sharing your life together, and building a career. And that’s exactly what we set out to do on April 20, 1993, when we were first introduced to everyone. This journey has begun and here we are. I think we love this experience and love the band even more today than we did years ago. Just sharing our lives together, becoming part of each other’s families, growing and nurturing each other and being there for each other – that’s what makes this band so special. And that’s what makes people, I think, JCPenney, call the Backstreet Boys and say, ‘Hey, could you do this special with us?’ We just want to bring people together. Music brings people together and having that bond that we’ve shared for 30 years makes our music even more special.”

Watch Yahoo Entertainment’s full interview with the Backstreet Boys about their holiday album and two holiday specials, the rumor that John Mellencamp complained about being on the same record label as BSB, and AJ McLean’s memorable and victorious run in a another tv show, Secret celebrity race:

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