Danny Wood was calling in for a phone interview about this summer’s New Kids on the Block tour and other projects just a few days before his 40th birthday.
Back when New Kids on the Block were essentially creating the teen pop phenomenon in the late 1980s and packing arenas with frenzied crowds of teen-age girls, it was hard to imagine any of these then-teen-aged guys still doing the New Kids as they approached middle age.
But since the group reunited in 2007 – 13 years after their initial run ended after four albums that totaled 80 million copies sold – there has been one success after another, including a blockbuster tour with the Backstreet Boys in 2011-12.
Considering the teen history of New Kids and the now-advancing age of the five singers, it might seem natural to question if there’s an age limit on how long they can continue to be a credible, viable music act. But if such an expiration date exists, Wood and his fellow New Kids – Donnie Wahlberg, Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight and Joey McIntyre – don’t see it.
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“I would say we might have thought about that a few years ago, you know, like maybe before the Backstreet Boys tour,” Wood said. “But since then, everything has been so successful, and we just don’t even talk about it. … Everyone came into rehearsal looking good, looking better than the last tour. … And we enjoy being around each other. We have a good time. So what’s the point of even talking about when it’s going to end? If we weren’t selling tickets to people, and if people weren’t coming, then we would be like ‘Well, maybe we should start wrapping this up.’ But people still want it. They still want to see us. So we’re going to keep doing this until they don’t want to see us.”
The demand around the group is so strong that this summer’s outing – billed “The Total Package” tour – that the New Kids have released a five-song EP, “Thankful,” in part to help sate the demand for new music from the group.
“I think we kind of can feel it from the fans when they’re itching for some new music,” Wood said. “And they kind of coincide with us. Like we were kind of itching to do something new. We started looking around (for songs) and we heard ‘One More Night.’ Me and Donnie, actually, listened to it and we were like ‘We’ve got to record this.’ It just kind of starts like that. It’s not this big, giant plan.”
For the “Total Package” tour, which also includes openers Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul, the New Kids are bringing a new stage, new production and putting a few new wrinkles in the set list of songs.
“We play every hit that we’ve ever had,” Wood said. “We would never be the group that you go to their show, and you’re like ‘Hey, they didn’t play this song.’ … We’re well aware of what the fans want to hear. And then we mix in some of the new, and sometimes it’s just pieces of the new songs. So we give them a little flavor, but we don’t overdo it.”
In the years between the 1994 breakup and 2007 reunion, Wahlberg launched a successful film and television acting career, while McIntyre found success acting on Broadway.
As for Wood, he has rather quietly built an admirable catalog of seven solo albums and has shown some notable songwriting talent. He has also started the Remember Betty Foundation, named for his mother, who died in 1999 of breast cancer.
Wood’s latest 2016’s album, “Look at Me,” is a particular personal effort, with songs that touch on his life as a divorced father raising three daughters, his mother’s death and his home town of Boston. He had a simple goal for this latest album.
“What I wanted to accomplish was just to be honest,” Wood said. “I think writers sometimes fail when they’re not honest, when they can be honest about topics on the world and whatever. But when they’re not honest about themselves, and especially (with) the title track to the album, I wanted to be honest about myself. I’m not perfect, man. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life and a lot of it, I wanted my kids to know, too.”
New Kids on the Block
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3
Where: Golden 1 Center, 500 David J Stern Walk, Sacramento