Kevin said he enjoys recording in the Bahamas because it's "just a great vibe. I mean, when you're feeling like you got writer's block or something, you can walk out the front door, and walk right out on the beach, and with a tape recorder and a pen and pad and just let it come out."
Added Howie, "The cell phones don't work out here."
It's probably hard to think about work in the Bahamas, with so many welcome distractions. Howie took time out to hang out with Gloria Estefan, attending her post-concert party at Nassau's ultra-luxurious Atlantis resort.
Nick was just named one of People magazine's "most beautiful people of 2000." But in the Bahamas, he's just another one of the boys, making music with his Backstreet buds.
Kevin, Howie, and Nick agree that being in the group is very much like being part of a family. They fight, and they communicate, and there have been times when they couldn't stand each other.
"Just like family," Kevin explained. "Just like your brothers. Just like your best friend. We'll always get along."
'N Sync, that other boy band, stole some Backstreet thunder earlier this year when their CD, No Strings Attached, sold more than two million copies its first week on the charts. The sales record they broke was one that had been set by - who else? - the Backstreet Boys.
McEwen compared the rivalry between the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync to that of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. But Kevin said it is a rivalry that has been mostly manufactured by the media.
"I mean, those guys are talented," he added. "They're working hard, and they're trying to make records and make music, just like everybody else. And I think there's plenty of room for everybody."
When McEwen reminded them of the hoopla when 'N Sync broke the Backstreet Boys' one-day sales record, Kevin quipped, "Broke it? Shattered it!"
Nick chimed in, "You know what? Things are made to be broken.
Howie: "We'll give them a run for the money on the next album."
Kevin: "As long as people like the record and they buy it, that's all that matters."
The Backstreet Boys' new album is due this fall. You or someone you know owns a copy of their last CD, Millennium, which it sold 11 million copies in the U.S. alone.
How are they dealing with the critical backlash to their success?
"All we're trying to do is just stick with what we've been doing, and make music that we love, that we think everybody else will love," said Kevin. "Ad that's all we're gonna try to do."
The guys told McEwen they're still pinching themselves about their success. They said they're still surprised and flattered when folks like Sting or Elton John come up to them and tell them how much they like their music.
Both Kevin and Brian are making wedding plans. It will be interesting to see how marriage and family will affect the guys and how they interact. For the record, Howie says he'll probably be the longest hold-out to tie the knot.
McEwen says that he taped the Backstreet Boys interview on a Sunday, and the process was delayed a little bit because Howie was at church. He goes every week. They say it's important that they keep a normal life amid all the hype.
As for their new material, the guys are all taking a little more creative control this time around, a lot of different sounds, reflecting their individual interests. They expect about 12 tracks, and Howie joked they might call the album Twelve Flavors of Candy.
Alexander James McLean: Born January 9, 1978, West Palm Beach, Fla. A.J. is also a puppeteer.
Nickolas Gene Carter: Born January 28, 1980, Jamestown, N.Y. Nick is a licensed scuba diver. Has appeared in commercials for the Florida Lottery and The Money Store.
Kevin Scott Richardson: Born October 3, 1972, Lexington, Ky. Kevin is a qualified ballroom dance instructor, and lived in a log cabin for eight years.
Howard Dwaine Dorough: Born August 22, 1973, Orlando, Fla. Howie is half Puerto Rican and half Irish and speaks Spanish fluently. He's had roles in Cop and a Half and Parenthood. His sister Caroline died in 1998 of lupus, while he was in the middle of a tour.
Brian Thomas Littrell: Born February 20, 1975. "B-Rok" is also Kevin's cousin. He had open-heart surgery in 1999 to repair a hole that was a congenital defect.
THE BACKSTREET STORY
- Backstreet Boys formed in 1993 when high school students A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough and junior high school student Nick Carter kept meeting at auditions, became friends, and decided to sing together. Kevin Richardson heard about the trio asked to be in the group.
- The four guys responded to an open ad in a local newspaper for a "boy band" audition, but the manager felt that they needed a fifth member. Kevin called his cousin Brian Littrell back in Kentucky and the group was set.
- They then named themselves the Backstreet Boys after a popular Orlando hang-out called the Backstreet Market.
- While trying to secure a record deal, the group resorted to performing a capella in the lobbies of local record label offices. After much persistence, they landed the management team of Johnny and Donna Wright who have worked with the New Kids On The Block.
- They became on of Florida's hottest live acts, playing high schools, Grad Night at Sea World and an opening slot for Brandy.
- In 1995, the Backstreet Boys released We've Got It Going On, written by Denniz Pop and Max Martin, taking Europe by storm.
- The group won a 1995 Smash Hits Award in London for Best New Tour Act and performed their second single, I'll Never Break Your Heart, on British TV's Top Of The Pops.
- In April, 1996, the Backstreet Boys released their first full-length album in Europe and Canada and that summer headlined a sold-out 57 date European tour. By fall, Backstreet Boys fever had also swept Asia, the Pacific Rim and Australia. Their debut went six times platinum in Canada, hitting No. 1 the charts.
- They had yet to conquer the U.S. In early 1997, the group returned to Orlando and worked on new tracks for their U.S. debut. Released August 12, 1997, the self-titled album included all the international hits plus new songs recorded with Robert "Mutt" Lange and PM Dawn.
- The U.S. hits off the album included Quit Playing Games (With My Heart), As Long As You Love Me, Everybody (Backstreet's Back), I'll Never Break Your Heart, and All I Have To Give.
- Performances include Storytellers With Tony Bennett, the Disney Channel's In Concert series, Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve 1999, and Shania Twain's Winter Break Featuring Elton John and the Backstreet Boys.
- In 1999, they released Millennium, this time featuring songs co-written by the Backstreet Boys themselves, with tracks produced by Max Martin, Robert "Mutt" Lange and Steve Lipson.
- The album entered the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart at No. 1 the week of June 5, selling 1,134,000 copies in its first week, shattering the previous SoundScan record held by Garth Brooks. They also held the most sales for an album's second and third weeks.
- Have sold 23 million total albums in the U.S. as of April 27, 2000, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
- They were nominated for a Grammy Award as Best New Artists in 1998 and received multiple nominations in 1999. They were named among Entertainment Weekly's "Best Entertainers of 1998." They were also among People magazine's 1998 "Men We Love," and "25 Most Intriguing People Of The Year."