After 24 years — and more than 75 million albums sold — the Backstreet Boys are larger than life. “We’re an example of what a band can be like if you stick together,” Nick Carter exclusively tells Us Weekly of the group, in residency at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood through 2018. “It’s been unbelievable. It feels like just yesterday we started out.”
Now he’s mentoring a new crop of heartthrob singers. On ABC’s Boy Band, Carter — along with music producer Timbaland and the Spice Girls’ Emma Bunton — serves as an architect, guiding contestants as they compete for a spot in a supergroup with a recording contract. “There’s a young generation that deserves to have their own experience similar to what our fans had,” says the 37-year-old. “These kids could potentially open for us one day.”
The dad of 14-month-old son Odin (with wife Lauren Kitt) keeps the beat with Us.
Us Weekly: What are you looking for in a potential boy-bander?
Nick Carter: I want to see the lightning in the bottle, the magic. It’s about their likability, performance, vocals and how well they handle pressure. When I see them, I want to be like, ‘That kid is a star.’ And Emma, Timbaland and I have seen some people that we feel are those potential stars. But, there could be an unlikely hero who comes out of nowhere and grows right in front of America’s eyes.
Us: How important are dance skills?
NC: I would love to get five guys who can all move. It’s really hard to teach somebody that doesn’t have rhythm. You don’t want someone to stick out.
Us: Have the contestants been coming to you to pick your brain?
NC: Here and there. I’ve really been telling them to communicate, talk to one another. They have to lean on each other. In a way, they’re competing against each other, but at the same time, they need each other to make it. Helping each other out is the best advice I can give them.
Us: How have the dynamics of a boy band evolved since the ‘90s?
NC: Kids are more diverse these days. They sing, they rap. The more talented they are, the more they can offer fans. And there’s also social media. They’re aware of themselves, how they look and how they sound.
Us: What do you, Emma and Timbaland each bring to the show?
NC: We all have different visions but, at the same time, we have had had similar lives in the entertainment business. Timbaland is a legendary producer who has worked with some of the best vocalists of our time. He’s looking at this from a very technical level. And Emma, she’s had her experience as an entertainer and performer, but she also knows what the girls want.
Us: Any chance of a Backstreet Boys–Spice Girls collaboration?
NC: We’ve spoken about it! Emma keeps telling me that the girls are busy. They have their lives with their families. So it depends when they’re ready. We know our fans would go crazy for it.
Us: How do you balance two shows and family life?
NC: We only do shows three days out of the week in Vegas. And I moved there, so I’m only 15 minutes away. When I’m done with a show, I immediately rush home to enjoy quality time with my son and wife. It’s like I’m a Backstreet Boy by night and a dad by day.
Us: What’s next for BSB?
NC: There has not been new music played on the radio from the Backstreet Boys in more than 10 years. That’s my new goal. I want to have another hit single and hit album.
Us: Do you think you guys will be rocking out in your 80s?
NC: We’ll see! We’re taking it day by day.
Boy Band airs on ABC Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET.
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