The Decision – Kevin
It wasn’t planned you know.
I’d just started thinking, when NKOTBSB was being talked about all over the media. It was weird; to see the four men I still considered my surrogate baby brothers all over the place again. Not on the level of say, 1999 of course, more on par with 2005, the last time I was part of that world. The fame, the hype, and all the insanity. I’d needed a breather. I wanted so many things and honestly, the price I thought would never be too high when it all started, suddenly seemed incredibly daunting.
I started hating my job. Job. I never saw being a Backstreet Boy like that before. It used to be the Dream. Something I was blessed enough to live day to day and experience things that few people ever would. People would’ve killed to be me. I’m not saying that because I’m egotistical. I’m saying it because I used to feel that way myself. I’d see groups like Jodeci or Boys II Men and wonder what it would be like to do that all my life. Then, like an answered prayer, Lou came to me that fateful day at Disney World.
That was obviously long before people were getting discovered on YouTube. Back then you really had to work for it. You had to push yourself on others. Just so you had a shot at getting lucky. I’m not going to say artists now don’t work hard. But I will say it’s a little easier to get in the business than it used to be. Nobody’s fault, simply more exposure.
It’s just I’d gotten so bitter. I hated the way the label controlled us. I hated that all these songs we’d written or found from talented friends in the business had to get tossed aside cause of one idiot decision to let Johnny Wright be our manager again. We had so many gems, and I’m talking about the ones that didn’t get leaked to the internet. All to make an album that could’ve really stood out for us, an album that could’ve been real. The only songs we won the battles with were “Siberia”, and “Never Gone”. We’re lucky those made it to be honest.
Then, MTV refused to play us. There was demand but they decided they didn’t want groups like us to be popular anymore. They didn’t care how many people called TRL. How do I know this? They actually had the nerve to tell us this when Johnny tried to arrange performances with them for our promo run. I was tired, tired of fighting, tired of everything. We weren’t welcomed, we were hated. And that’s not even touching on the paparazzi, remember this was right in the midst of the spawn of Satan (Paris Hilton) trying to give my baby brother hell.
I was tired and I wanted out. But now, out just didn’t look so good anymore.
You know, if Nick heard my thoughts right now, he’d say I need to condense this again.
That leads me back to the fellas.
It was this performance they were doing on the Today Show. Believe it or not, I did know about the fact they were touring with New Kids On The Block long before it happened. They warned me before it was even finalized. Nick had called me. Apparently they’d been afraid of how I would react to the entire idea. It was pretty funny. I’ve been out of the group for almost five years and they were still checking for my approval. Some things really do never change.
I wasn’t happy about it. I just didn’t tell them that.
How could I? What right did I have to say they were destroying all those years we fought against being compared to NKOTB? I hated being compared to them back in the day. I’m sure most fans know it too. I had my fair share of run-ins with them too and arguments when they heard what I’d said about them. Maybe I was harsh back then. At the same time, I wanted our group to stand on its own legs – especially since we were the group that actually could sing. That’s how I thought back then.
Now? I’ve grown. Still, those feelings were alive and well there, buried deep.
But it was all this, that had me thinking about the group again, the way I hadn’t in years.
“Kevin?” Brian’s voice snapped me back to reality. I’d invited him over to dinner that night while he was in Los Angeles for a “NKOTBSB” interview on KISS FM. I really didn’t like that name this whole event has. It makes them sound like this parodied super-boyband. I could almost feel my eyebrow twitching. Oddly enough, it felt like home. Cause to be honest, only Backstreet Boys related things were able to make that happen. Not even Mason has that talent yet.
“Can you believe the group will coming upon twenty years?” I asked, before he could try and pry into my thoughts. Brian’s got this annoying habit of doing that. Wonder where he got it from?
“Yeah, it’s weird, isn’t it?”
“Right, seems like only yesterday that Nick was shorter than me and we shared a hotel room playing video games every night while we tried to make it big all over Europe.”
I smiled at the image. Those had been simpler times.
“Yeah and we had to watch anything we owned or you two did something to it.”
“Hey, not our fault you used your shampoo without checking it. Besides, I think blue was a great color for your hair.”
“And you wondered why I was so uptight back then.”
He sent me a cheeky grin. “You were born that way.”
I must have given him the look because he started laughing even harder. I rolled my eyes.
“You know when you look like that it’s like you have a giant caterpillar living on your face?”
“I think that line got old back in ’99 Bri.”
He sat back, munching on the hot dog that had been momentarily ignored. We were sitting on my back porch, just enjoying the sunset. Kristen had taken Mason to the movies when I told her what I was thinking. I was pretty shocked she was so supportive. Then again, she was always artistic herself, of course she understood. It was a major reason why I loved her.
“So what’s the real reason I’m here?” He asked, once again taking me out my reminiscing and back to reality. I think it’s too many years around Nick. I never used to space like this.
I glanced back at my cousin. It’s weird that I never used to like hanging out with him as a kid. Then, we end up in the group together and while we’re family and always were, the group made us more so. To most I’m sure that wouldn’t make sense. The idea is that the group formed this bond of friendship that was never there when we were just family.
I sighed. I was nervous. I know, I know. Kevin, the backbone, the father figure, and the one everyone used to look to for strength in the group – nervous? But I was. I used to be all that. I wasn’t anymore, not for a few years. What if Brian wasn’t okay with this? What if I asked him and it turned out they were happier without me? I felt like a teenager about to ask a girl to his first dance. They always said I could come back. But what if they said that because they felt they had to?
“I think it’s great, all the publicity this new tour is giving you guys.” I said instead.
“I’m actually surprised about how nice those guys are. I didn’t expect that. Joey’s got a great voice.”
He’s the only one. I added on in my head, but it was better not to say that out loud. “Right, and people are interested again.”
Brian nodded, staring at me expectantly. “It kind of feels like the old days.”
“Do you ever miss it? When things seemed to be easier?”
“Except they weren’t, between AJ, my surgery, Lou being a…”
“Right. Well, I miss it at times.”
That got him to pause. “You do? I thought you were happier acting.”
“I was at first. But in the last year or so, I’ve missed music. I’ve missed touring, performing, traveling to all those crazy places with you guys.” There, I admitted it. I swallowed my pride and said what I was thinking. It’s not easy, especially for me. I always liked being the confident one, the one who never seemed to question any choices I made. I did though, all the time.
“Are you saying you want to come back?”
I nodded. “For good, not just for a night on stage, or the 20th anniversary coming up. I mean, after this whole NKOTBSB thing is over, I want to return.” I waited expectantly, here’s where I laid it all out. Now I could be easily rejected. It’s why I wanted to broach Brian with the subject before anyone else. Brian was easily one of the most honest. Nick I wasn’t sure anymore. AJ was painfully blunt; Howie would tell you what you wanted to hear. I sighed and expected the worst when he didn’t say anything.
It was then he looked at me and gave me the biggest smile I’d seen in a long time.