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Boy Band Love

NKOTB Tearing Up FirstBank Amphitheater

New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) is legendary. The boy band rose to fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s, captivating a generation with their chart-topping pop tunes and coordinated dance performances. Born in Boston in 1984, NKOTB includes brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood. Known for hits like "Hangin' Tough," "Step by Step," and "You Got It (The Right Stuff)," the five guys became something of a cultural phenomenon, influencing the boy band genre for years to come. After a hiatus in the mid-90s, NKOTB made a successful comeback in 2008, continuing to tour and release new music, much to the delight of X-ers and Millennials everywhere. Now, in 2024, NKOTB is once again set to thrill "blockheads" (as they lovingly refer to their fans) with the release of their upcoming album, Still Kids. The boys have also wrapped the first leg of an extensive summer tour, aptly named the "Block Party Tour." NKOTB continues to prove their staying power by bridging the gap between nostalgic charm and modern appeal, and reaffirming their status as pop icons. City Lifestyle got to chat with Joey McIntyre about life in the boy band then and now. 

CL: When you first started out, you were barely thirteen years old. I’m sure you never could have imagined a career that spans almost 40 years. How are you feeling about it now? 

Joey: Grateful. I get to do what I love to do and be challenged. It’s a never-ending odyssey. I am just grateful to be healthy and curious and challenged. 

CL:  You have the new album coming out too. What was the recording process like for your first new album in 11 years?

Joey: We kept the fires burning with different songs. A few here, a few there. But to do a full album, it's a big commitment. You got five guys with five different lives and careers and all kinds of stuff. We’re not showing up at the studio in the same room together everyday, so that definitely presents its challenges but where there’s a will there’s a way and I think eventually we were all willing. I think Donnie kinda got going first, and was inspired to start writing and have a certain direction, and then I was sort of dipping my toe in and then I finally jumped in and ended up co-writing and producing like half the album, and Donnie kinda did the other half. Spinning the tracks around and getting people excited, or getting feedback and tweaking - it’s a process. It can feel delicate at times. But we’re lucky that we’ve been together this long, and we can benefit from the experience. 

 CL: Do you have a favorite song on the album? 

Joey: Every time I’m asked that I always go to “Stay” and “Stay” is the last song on the album. And maybe I like it because I wanted it to be the last song on the album. It’s about a little bit of resignation, it’s about life isn’t perfect but we keep showing up for each other in our own way, and it has sort of like an 'off into the sunset' vibe, but into the future as well, so all of those things combined I think kinda make it a good button to the album.

CL: You’re coming to Franklin in July for two nights. We’re excited to have you. Is there any city you just love visiting or stopping in while you are on tour?  

Joey: I'd say Montreal right now. I’m shooting a movie there at the moment, but I always enjoy Pittsburgh. I do love Nashville for a lot of reasons, and that’s fun. Pittsburgh’s a great town because visually it’s pretty gorgeous. You got the three rivers, the bridges, the yellow bridges. Aesthetically, it’s really pleasing. They got the great new baseball stadium, the new football stadium, and then my favorite is the Andy Warhol Museum which is pretty spectacular in my opinion. I've been picking that one lately.

CL: You guys recently celebrated the 35th anniversary of 'New Kids on the Block Day.' How did you get a day dedicated just to NKOTB?

Joey: Do you want the real story? (Laughs) It is genuine though - who cares how you get there. Now it’s a full blown thing. The governor in 1989 made a proclamation. It was for one day in 1989. And then it became a thing. People were talking about it.

CL: It caught fire with your fans. It’s like a huge thing for you guys.

Joey: I think it’s lovely. Why shouldn’t we have a day that we can point to and celebrate? We have fun with it. We’re throwing a party and we’re celebrating what we had. We’re just an excuse for our fans to get together. It’s such a community, and they are there for each other in so many ways, and they just have a blast. It’s very cool that we’ve been around this long. I mean it doesn’t happen very often. 

CL: Speaking of having a blast, you guys yourselves seem like you are having so much fun. Do you foresee doing this for another 10-20 years?

Joey: This community is a part of our lives. It’s really family at this point. We call them blockheads. We’re not going anywhere and they’re not going anywhere, and how we celebrate that and how we show up for that, physically, is a feat. It’s a tour at a time, it’s a day at a time, it’s a year at a time, and I think we’ve been able to keep it fresh and keep it exciting and that’s the point. So far so good. 

CL: What about you, personally? You’re on a set, so you’re still acting. 

Joey: Acting has always been a part of my life, even as a kid, before NKOTB. I love theater - I’m a theater kid, Broadway and all that. This movie I’m doing now is a sweet Christmas movie, and I wrote a song for it. I’m motivated and curious, so that’s my plan.  

"It’s very cool that we’ve been around this long. I mean it doesn’t happen very often."