The Backstreet Boys arguably have one of the most extensive resumes in pop music history. They can now officially add “fashion connoisseurs” to it.
The iconic boy band is releasing their holiday collection with LA-based underwear brand MeUndies today, which features a wide array of accessories, pajamas and loungewear, all of which emphasize maximum comfort. Basically, it’s just the kind of fun, festive clothing that you can snuggle up in by the campfire.
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The group's been embodying the spirit of Christmas this year, having released their first holiday album, A Very Backstreet Christmas, back in October, which saw the group craft their own soulful renditions of holiday classics such as “White Christmas,” “Silent Night” and “Winter Wonderland.”
They even have an ABC Christmas special in the works. PAPER sat down to talk to them about their growing holiday empire.
How did you all start collaborating with MeUndies?
Nick Carter: I mean, it happened because we needed some really comfortable underwear!
AJ McLean: Yeah, we were really tired of getting the Hanes Your Way. To be honest, it is by far the most comfortable underwear. We got to wear a plethora of stuff when we shot the commercial from onesies to long sleeve shirts, the underwear. Just that material and everything, it's just so soft!
Carter: And we were in dire need for some really good matchy-matchy onesies with good patterns for our kids back home. It really worked out because we had a song that's on our Christmas album we're releasing called "Happy Days." They heard the song, we got in contact with them, told them to send us their collection, tried it on and it was incredibly comfortable, and we showed him the song. We said, "Hey, do you think maybe we can do something together?" And that's pretty much what happened.
And let's talk a little bit more about the holiday album. It's your first full-length entry into any holiday space, so what inspired that move?
Carter: I mean, listen, it's been 30 years. It's a Backstreet Boys bucket list. We've been wanting to do holiday music for a very long time because we grew up listening to all those songs in our households. It was always the background music in our house and those songs mean so much to us. Being musicians and doing this for 30 years, we finally got the opportunity to jump in the studio in LA during the pandemic, which was really hard to get back together to even record it, especially at such a low time for everyone in the world and being disconnected and everything, but we found a way to get together and then we just kind of set the mood and put our put our hearts into it and our souls into it. We had incredible producers like Tommy Brown and then we have really intricate harmonies. The music is different because you hear all those classic songs, but there's not really a lot of harmonies and there's not a lot of groups like us that do what we do, so we're able to give it a different twist for sure.
Were there any specific moments on the album that were especially important to you going all the way back to childhood with those songs playing in your household?
McLean: Yeah, when we first got the conversation started about making an actual Christmas record, each of us put together a wish list of songs that we were either close to or that we grew up listening to, and there was a good chunk of it that the majority of us all picked like "The Christmas Song" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas." There were certain classics that we all across the board agreed on and then there were some that were personal.
Like for example, "Last Christmas," Nick's middle daughter, that was one of her first songs that she danced to ever and it just kind of drew him to that song. Plus we all grew up loving Wham! and no one like us has ever covered that song. There's been only two other covers, both by female artists. Same thing with a song that, me personally, I had never even heard called "Auld Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg. I had never heard that song in my life! Literally, that was Kevin and Brian's personal choice. [We also wrote] two originals and [got] another amazing original called "Christmas in New York" from our lifelong friend Mr. Gary Baker, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter. Once we got in there, we were able to siphon through everything and there were a few songs that we did cut that didn't make the record. It just didn't turn out the way that we wanted it to. We decided to just write one original and then it became two originals, and now one of those originals happens to be linked to the campaign for MeUndies, which turned out amazing!
Carter: Yeah, when we wrote this Christmas-adjacent song in California, first of all, we were saying to ourselves, "We want to just write something happy, something that can kind of cross over a little bit and not necessarily be so Christmas holiday." We didn't expect people to really gravitate towards it the way that they have been. We keep getting people just singing it no matter where we're going and talking about it and so we're really, really stoked that we were able to feature it in the MeUndies campaign commercial because it definitely gives all the feels and the nostalgic vibes. It's great!
In addition to being in the studio, you've been spending most of the year on tour. Were there any crazy moments on the road?
McLean: On the summer tour — it's like that reality show, I think it's called Storm Chasers — we were literally being chased by bad weather almost the entire summer and it finally took a crap on us, just outside of Washington, DC and we had to post on a show and tack it onto the end of the tour, and then the weather just happened again when we did the make-up show, but we were able to get through the show. The first half of the summer tour was all outdoor venues, so dealing with lightning and thunder and all that stuff, we were fortunate enough to get through the rest of that part without any hitches, then the back half was indoors, which was great. Plus, it was hot as hell at the beginning of the summer!
Carter: It was like 115 degrees on the stage when we were performing!
McLean: Yeah, definitely dropping some pounds out there without even moving! But I mean, to be honest, I think one of the coolest things about this particular tour, we've really been bonding even more than we ever have. For whatever reason, this has been like the Backstreet Bonding Tour. Four out of five of us golf, so we've spent every day off on the golf course hanging out together, listening to music, playing golf, going to dinners — just really spending a lot of quality time with each other, which has been great! Everyone's in a great place. We're all inspired! We're excited!
Carter: And I think it really comes down to what we're seeing out here on the road and what we're feeling from the fans and from the people who are coming to our shows. I think that's really inspiring us because all of us, the whole world, came out of this crazy pandemic and everyone just wanted to connect. Everyone wanted to find something that can bring us together, and what better thing other than music? Go to a live show! Go with your best friends! Go with your husband! Bring your kids! We're seeing that in the audience and we saw it all over America. We're seeing it all in Europe as well, and so there's just this really good vibe and good feeling that we're getting this transfer of energy between each other, and I think that's really inspiring us as well.
What's in store for the future of the Backstreet Boys going into next year and beyond?
McLean: I mean, we're still on tour until the beginning of summer next year. When we get home after this European run, we have right about a week off and then we go into rehearsals for our ABC Christmas special. Then we have some Christmas radio shows in the beginning of December and then we're off until the end of January. Then we hit up South America, Australia and New Zealand, back to Japan. Then in May, we are doing Dubai, Israel. Hopefully Saudi Arabia.
Carter: Southeast Asia!
McLean: Hopefully finally getting to South Africa for the first time, and then the tour is done! It'll be a four-year-long tour, but it'll finally be done.
Carter: We're looking to do something special on our 30th anniversary, which is April 20 next year, so we literally are starting to have our debates about what we're going to do.
McLean: Yeah, I mean, yes it's our 30th on that day, but like we've all said, all of next year is our 30th anniversary, so hopefully doing as much as we can to commemorate that and do some cool packaging and some cool things for the fans. Then we've been still obviously talking about going back to Vegas for a longer residence. Not sure where, but that conversation has been going on for the past few years since we finished our last residency, so we're gonna be busy probably till 2030.
You can view and purchase the full MeUndies x Backstreet Boys collaboration here.
Photos courtesy of MeUndies
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