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New Kids on the Block are older, wiser and still hangin' tough

Adam Graham, The Detroit News on

Published in Entertainment News

The dynamic has led to a better, healthier connection with fans, Wahlberg says.

"We don't strategically say, 'hey, let's connect with our fans,' it's been established that that's what we do," says Wahlberg, big brother to actor Mark Wahlberg and a cast member of CBS' police procedural "Blue Bloods" for 12 seasons. "And I think we always try to give more every single time we go back out, and that's because the connection just grows deeper with the fans. And I think that's one of the reasons we've had more longevity this time than the first go-round."

Life's ups and downs have also made the New Kids realize how special that longevity is.

"I think we appreciate this in a way that we couldn't as kids, because we've grown up and been through so many things. And I think for our fans, it's the same thing," Wahlberg says. "They've all grown up and had families and lost loved ones and had divorces and had real life struggles, you know? And I think this is a chance for them to connect with part of their childhood, and be OK with It, which is a very, very special thing."

Back in the day, fan connection meant calling the New Kids hotline, which at its height received a reported 100,000 calls a week. Today, social media allows the group members to stay in contact with fans in ways that simply didn't exist a couple of tech generations ago.

"Twitter really helped us in connecting with fans, and really getting to know them, which is weird," Wahlberg says. "I know so much about so many of the fans, like where they live and what their husband does. It's great. It feels like one big family."

Jonathan Knight, who when not New Kidding is host of HGTV's "Farmhouse Fixer," may have had the roughest go of any of the New Kid. He was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder after his time in the trenches as a boy band icon. He didn't necessarily see a second life with the group for himself and is tickled they're still doing it at such a high level.

"I still pinch myself every day that we are back together," says Knight. "When we broke up, I never envisioned us getting back together, and even when we did, we had talked about just doing a 32-date reunion tour. And here we are, 14 years later, and we're still touring. So it's pretty special."

 

New Kids shows are still highly technical feats of choreography, and they're engineered to leave nary a moment of downtime from the entertainment of it all. So what's it like doing the teenage idol thing all these years later? (When Wahlberg mentions the group members are all in their 50s, a background voice chimes in, "not yet!" That's McIntyre, the baby of the group, who doesn't turn 50 until the end of this year.)

"The best reference is it's kind of like athletes," says Wahlberg, 52. "You hear athletes say the game slows down when you get a little older, and they're able to appreciate it more, and that's how it is for us. As kids, we were like rookies, the game hadn't slowed down. And it's all slowed down now, and I think we soak it up every night just as much as the fans."

The New Kids of today aren't sweating the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame not giving them a call, nor are they in competition with any of their contemporaries or heirs; ask if they're down for a Super Bowl halftime mega-collaboration with New Edition, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and One Direction and Wahlberg responds, "why stop there?"

The New Kids aren't stopping, that much is for sure; as long as their fans are still having a good time, they are, too.

"Whatever is to come is not in our hands, we just enjoy it," Wahlberg says. "We're living our best boy band life."

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©2022 www.detroitnews.com. Visit at detroitnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
 

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