"If you want it, don't think about it."
Lyrical words of wisdom from Nick Carter and Jordan Knight for those still contemplating whether to head along and catch the Backstreet Boy and New Kid on the Block as their 38-stop North American tour hits Canada.
The boy band veterans debut their NKOTBSB spin-off act Nick and Knight at Montreal's Metropolis tonight, in a pop, soul, dance and R&B extravaganza which will have you singing along to your favorite BSB and NKOTB hits, grooving to an epic eighties set and shamelessly joining in their poptastic dance moves during their new duets.
While the duo already shared the stage together via the boy band dream that was NKOTBSB in 2011, the seeds of Nick and Knight were planted many moons ago when the pop stars got writing together in Florida.
"Jordan and I started this relationship way before NKOTBSB," says Nick, 34. "We had written music together and just got along. He's an amazing singer and great writer."
Keeping in touch, they rekindled their bromance while touring with NKOTBSB and with both having solo careers, decided it could be fun to tour together.
But why just share a tour bus when you can share a stage? The idea evolved into recording a joint album and plans to include solo songs were eclipsed by the musical chemistry which lead to the completed 10-track record comprising only duets.
Like the toe-tapping, summery first single "One More Time," with its catchy guitar riff and singalong-inducing ‘Woo hoo!’ chorus phrase. Then there’s poignant ballad "Halfway There," seductive "Switch" (co-written by Bruno Mars) and "Drive My Car," one of two songs penned by the pair after being enamoured by its eighties vibe.
"I love eighties music and I'm really corny when it comes to that kind of stuff," says Nick. "The producer played the track and I started singing this eighties sound. Jordan said, 'I think it’s great,' and we wrote the song together. It makes me think of Drive with Ryan Gosling – that era and time."
On stage, the twosome deliver everything fans could ask for, whether it’s belting out each other’s biggest BSB/NKOTB hits, getting the venue pumping with solo track mash-ups, hitting the keyboard and guitar for a captivating acoustic set and naturally, some grinding.
Want to see Nick rap? Done. “Lots of people know my brother [Aaron] was a rapper, but this time I do a little rapping.”
Fancy hearing Ginuwine and TLC covers? Sure. “TLC shocks people,” says Nick. “It's not something you’d think of us doing."
Interview continues after slideshow
As for the rest, HuffPost Canada Music chatted to 44-year-old Jordan -– a Canadian citizen whose parents are from Dunnville and Meaford –- as he arrived at one of his favorite Canadian cities, Montreal.
How did you and Nick end up writing together in Florida years ago?
I was making music and Nick was visiting Aaron, who was at the same studio recording an album. We ended up in the same room to say “Hi” and Nick had a melodic idea which he started singing. I walked over to the piano, started playing some chords and his eyebrows perked up. Aaron was like, “That’s cool, keep going!”
We ended up writing a song for Aaron, which was my first time doing something musically with Nick. I’ve always gotten a good vibe from Nick. We’re kindred spirits, so it’s very natural and people can feel how comfortable we are performing and singing together.
Going into this collaboration, did you have any fears?
I had doubts about what my fans would think and how Nick’s fans would react, because we have such dedicated fans. We sang certain songs to our fans when they were at their most tender age and made such an impression that Nick Carter fans love Nick Carter. Some of them couldn’t care less about me and vice versa.
But when they hear us sing or see us on stage, they see that chemistry. There’s a connection that rubs off onto fans, so if a fan loves only me they see that Nick loves me, as well, and vice versa. They feel like part of the whole thing and want to come back to the show again and again.
When you think about what you offer as a duo that you don't as solo artists or with BSB/NKOTB, what song illustrates that best?
‘Halfway There’ –- a broken down, piano ballad, which shows our voices blend well together and that we’re putting our heart and soul into the song and the whole project. And also, ‘Take Me Home’ because Nick sings most of it and I’m fine with that! It shows the degree of trust in our collaboration –- I'm good with Nick taking that song, making it his own and being the star of that track. I still feel equally part of it. We’re not competing against each other.
You and Nick co-wrote ‘If You Want It’ –- how did the track evolve?
It was a groove we heard by the same producer who did "Drive My Car." It had an old-school, late-seventies/early-eighties, R&B, disco feel and we gravitated towards that. Nick and I love singing falsetto-style songs, so we started humming melodies, words popped out and it was written quickly.
Is there anything quirky you’ve learned about Nick on the road?
He’s a great impressionist, not only with voices but with sounds. He can do incredible things with his voice besides singing and to him it’s goofing around, but to me it’s like, "Wow."
Yesterday he was imitating being on the phone with AT&T. He's like, "Please wait a second, ticka-ticka-tick" – doing that sound you hear when you’re waiting for the processing of your request! He does quirky, funny little things, which really show his talent.
You’ve shared similar paths over the years with teen stardom, addiction and somewhat of a reluctance to grow up/ accept you can’t be young and carefree forever. When you and Nick became closer during NKOTBSB, it was right when he was making great progress in turning his life around –- as you did in your thirties. Did he ever turn to you for advice or have you talked about your shared struggles?
That’s the thing –- we have so much in common, with our joys and triumphs as well as our struggles. I am definitely at a point where I'm past my partying days. I have so many responsibilities that it would be impossible to go back to partying every night! Nick is past that as well.
It’s something you can easily fall into when you’re given a lot at a young age. You lose touch with reality and think, “I am who I am, so I have the right to be irresponsible, and opportunities will always come to me.”
You rest on your laurels and can easily lose self-discipline.
We’ve both learned from the past. Nick's a very determined guy and has learned tremendously from struggles he has been through with drugs, alcohol, partying and family.
Struggles are actually a blessing because of how much they teach you and the depth and degree to which they teach you, so I think we both look back and go, “Wow, what a tough run, but an incredible run it's been.”
Nick never wanted children, but he's now thinking about starting a family next year. As a father-of-two, what advice would you give him about juggling tour life with a family?
It's scary to think about being a dad, especially if you've come from a broken home or a bad experience. It may colour your perception of what it’s all about. It certainly did for me. I grew up thinking I would never have kids and now my kids are the greatest joys of my life. When you're young and a "rock star," you don’t think about settling down and having children. That’s the last thing you want to do, but we’re all human and we all have the instinct to do it. To me now, it's the greatest pleasure ever to have kids, so I would just say, "Trust yourself and trust that you’ll have good fatherly instincts."
NKOTB are getting their Walk of Fame star next week. How cool is it to get that recognition?
It's great to be recognized and be amongst all these talented artists. Most importantly it’s an awesome, fun moment to share with our fans –- who are the ones who petitioned the city to get us on the Walk of Fame. They prop us up and they're going to make us look great next week when we share that moment with them.
As the Nick and Knight tour moves to warmer locations like Florida and the West Coast, is there more likely to be a forecast for shirtlessness at some point during the show?
Did you just say “shirtlessness”?
Well, I’ve just started my push-up regimen today, so it may be coming soon! We have equipment strapped onto our waists under our shirts, which get in the way of the full view, so that’s the only thing holding me back from ripping my shirt off. I’m going to have to figure this shirtless thing out…