A better connection for the Backstreet Boys

September 03, 1998|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

Backstreet Boy Howie D. is having cell phone trouble. Actually, the group has been having trouble all day. First, they had bad reception as the band buses drove through the Green Mountains of Vermont, and now that the Boys have arrived at Essex Junction, Vt., for a show at the Champion Valley Expo, their phones are full of static.

"We got these new Nokia phones," says Howie, laughing. "They have good prices, but you can't really get good reception on them."

Still, he can't complain. These days, cell phone noise is about the only kind of static the Backstreet Boys are likely to hear.

Three years ago, American interest in the Florida-based group was so slight that its first album wasn't even released here. Now, "Backstreet Boys" - which was compiled from tracks released on two European albums - is a fixture in the American Top 10, with more than 5 million copies sold to date. The single "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" was a Top-Five smash, and their new single, "I'll Never Break Your Heart," is in regular rotation at MTV.

How did the Boys come so far in such a short time? Howie D. the "D." stands for Dorough) thinks some of their success has to do with the way the music market runs in cycles. "There was a void in the music scene for pop music, and there weren't groups like us out," he says of the situation three years ago. "I think it

was just time for a group like us to come back out again.

"It was just a matter of timing," he adds. "Europe and the rest of the world was ready for a group like us before America was."

When American listeners did begin to show interest, most of the fans were teen-age girls, and the Backstreet Boys were pegged as teen idols. Over time, however, that has begun to change, as the Boys' audience broadened.

"The pattern that happens - like over in Europe - is that it starts off as a teen audience," he says. "But as people hear our music more and more, the age range starts broadening ... especially here in America. I mean, our songs were really hitting well on the adult contemporary charts, so a lot of adults actually were really into our music.

"I look out in the audience right now, and we have a wide range [of people] out there. We have mothers and fathers that come out to watch the show along with their kids and are into it just as much as their kids are. We have teen-agers, we have people who are my age, in their mid-20s, and up from there.

"We've been very fortunate. Our music hasn't been stereotyped into one category, one age-range or whatever."

Backstreet Boys

When: Tomorrow, 8 p.m.

Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia

Tickets: $20 (lawn only)

L Call: 410-481-6500 for tickets, 410-730-2424 for information

Sundial: To hear excerpts from the Backstreet Boys' album, "Backstreet Boys," call Sundial at 410-783-1800 and enter the code 6204. For other local Sundial numbers, see the directory on Page 2B.

Pub Date: 9/03/98

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