New Kids' restless youth ends

April 09, 1994|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

So you think you're pretty hip because you never liked New Kids on the Block tunes like "Tonight"?

Big deal. Even Donnie Wahlberg didn't like that song -- and he is one of the New Kids.

In fact, Wahlberg readily admits that his heart wasn't in a lot of what producer Maurice Starr wrote for the New Kids. "We used to do songs with Maurice, and they weren't really songs that we liked," he says, over the phone from Boston. "It got to a point on some records where some of us wouldn't even bother going to the studio to do anything on the songs, because we didn't like them.

"I mean, some of the guys really did like them. Like if I did a song like 'Cover Girl,' which was a rock-and-roll type of thing, the other guys may not have wanted to do that, but I was real enthused. Then again, there were songs like 'Tonight,' which I thought was just a little too corny, and I didn't want to do.

"But it was a democratic situation with a leader like Maurice, so it got done. I just really didn't take much part in doing it."

There were times, in fact, when Wahlberg felt he'd had all he could take of the New Kids' situation.

"I think in 1989, I initially had thoughts of leaving the group," he admits. "I think that's when I sort of started probably rebelling a little bit, and branching off from the goody-goody thing. I realized that I wasn't necessarily portraying myself in a way that I liked.

"Not that it was fake," he adds. "A lot of the positive things that I spoke about I really feel and believe in. But doing photo sessions and feeling pressured to smile by the rest of the group was just a little too much for me to handle, and I had to deal with that my own way.

"So at that time, I really felt I was ready to step out, and I felt I really had a direction."

Instead of leaving the group, Wahlberg channeled his creative energies into production work for his brother, rapper Marky Mark. "When I produced my brother's first album, I could have easily done a lot of that stuff for myself," he says.

"Those songs were songs that I just created with my musical taste. I didn't really mold it for him and say, 'I'm going to make this record the way you want to make a record.' I just made the songs that I made, and the same with his second record."

That same sense of direction comes through on "Face the Music," the latest album from the New Kids -- who, by the way, now call themselves NKOTB.

"This is an album that's focused more on our musical taste as opposed to a certain audience," he says. "We didn't set out in doing anything on this album to try to conquer any new ground as far as listeners.

"So you have songs like 'Dirty Dawg,' which is a song that I wrote. I feel good, because I think my styles are represented on the album in songs like that and 'You Got the Flavor.' And I think Jordan's styles are represented with some of the ballads and some of the fast stuff; I think Joe's styles are represented, and Danny's, and Jon as well."

Does he worry about being slammed by New Kid-hating critics? Not really. "We just tend to assume the worst," he says. "I think some artists may do an album like this and say, 'Yeah, we're going to get all of these types of people behind us now, and now these people will start to like us.' We don't do that.

"We think a little bit more realistically than that."

NKOTB performs at 8 tonight at Camden Yards Concert Hall (formerly Hammerjacks). Tickets are $17.50. Call (410) 659-7625 for information, (410) 481-7328 for tickets.

HEAR NKOTB

To hear excerpts from NKOTB's current album, "Face the Music," call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6169 after the greeting.

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