The New Home – Howie
I don’t know what we were thinking; letting AJ pick the place we were going to live at for the next month. Really, you’d think we’d know better by now after almost nineteen years. It’s right up there with letting Nick choose the place. Actually, as I got out of the van and looked up at the house, I realized it was the exact type of place Nick would end up moving us to. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nick’s known about it from AJ and didn’t tell us about it because he loved it so much. It was an older house, something almost straight out of a horror movie. I was waiting for bats to appear.
Lightening did strike in the background – typical London stormy weather.
Brian got out and bolted inside of the house, practically shoving me aside. Nick was right behind them. I knew what that was about. Same competition as always.
“I get the master bedroom!”
“No way! I’m bigger than you so I deserve the bigger room!”
Yes, they still have that argument.
“Isn’t it great?” It sounded like he was talking about Diddy’s mansion from how excited he was.
With five seconds AJ already had his phone out and started trying to film. I’m shaking my head as he started doing a retake. Of course not even five minutes comes by and I can hear Nick talking loudly about some of the artwork and Brian singing in the hallway. I wonder what his vocal coach told him. Believe it or not, he hasn’t told us anything about it. Only that he’s going.
Kevin was laughing as he got walked up beside me calmly.
“You’re the one who said you missed us.” I reminded him with a smirk.
He shook his head, chuckling. “So things haven’t changed at all.”
I shrugged as we headed inside, looking around. “They did but I think you caused them to regress.”
“Not sure if I should feel honored or annoyed.”
I snickered. “Probably a mix of both.”
I grabbed up my suitcases out of the van and started walking inside. All I knew was that my room wasn’t going to be anywhere near Nick’s. I know Kevin and I’m sure he was thinking he’d do that as revenge and no. I may be the one known to sleep anywhere but if Nick got hyper, life got very frustrating for the man known as Sleepy Backstreet. The house wasn’t too big, it was pretty modest really but that was fine by me. Close quarters didn’t bother me. We were going to have to make sure all five of us were used to it soon enough anyway. I made my way towards the back since Nick had gone upstairs saying he needed to explore.
I raised a brow at some of the paintings.
Definitely an AJ styled home.
Why do I say that? Because it was creepy yet weird at the same time. A lot of it had demons in it, naked demons in some strange positions or doing some random things. I’m sure Brian’s praying for his soul right now in his room. I didn’t hear him singing throughout the house anymore at least. I don’t say that to be mean. I love Brian; he’s my brother in every sense. But sometimes he could make you want to throw something at him. His aversions to after parties (where all that’s needed is for him to hype up the crowd the way Nick and I do) had nothing to do with Leighanne and everything to do with how wrong he thought they were. How he justified the cruises I’ll never know. But it makes Brian, Brian.
I smiled to myself as I entered the room. I wonder if Nick and AJ knew there were two master bedrooms. Guess not from the looks of it. I tossed my stuff on the bed and declared in claimed by Backstreet law. Whoever’s stuff was in there first got the room. I could hear my stomach rumbling since I couldn’t stand airline food and decided not to linger in there long. Unpacking can happen later as I Skype with Leigh and James. It wasn’t hard to miss them already yet I wasn’t regretting the Backstreet Only rule we agreed on before flying over. Sometimes you had to take away all the distractions to finally let yourself dive into that whole well of creativity.
When I made my solo album Back To Me, I literally avoided everyone as much as possible during the process. I ignored phone calls, turned off my computer and just let myself get wrapped into the lyrics as I wrote. As I recorded the songs I told my wife not to go with me to the studio. She understood then, just like now. I love that about her. A lot of people expected something different from me I know, some Spanish album or something. I’d thought about that as I looked at possible directions. But, it just wasn’t me. I love my Puerto Rican roots but the music I made was the music I wanted to make.
Now that we were here and free from Jive’s clutches – I wanted the same for The Backstreet Boys.
I think we all did to be honest.
“How is it Kevin snagged the Master when you we were in here first?” I heard Brian ask as I entered the kitchen, bringing my thoughts back to the here and now. Which of course meant more arguing over the housing arrangement. They didn’t need to know about my room yet.
Nick was leaning against the counter, eying Brian who was sitting at the black marble bar on one of the stools there. “Hell if I know. Man what happened to Kevin just letting us fight over it to shut us all up?”
I snickered. “Aww, is Kevin different than you remember Nicky?”
He shrugged a bit, looking at me while mulling over my words. “Actually yeah.”
“What you expected him to take charge again?”
“Sort of. Isn’t that what he does?”
I went to the fridge, checking out what’s inside. Of course there was nothing. Heaven forbid any of us have the foresight to have the landlord stock up the fridge for us. I blame AJ. I know the fans like to blame everything on Nick and you know it’s usually his fault but this time it’s AJ! He rented the house, decided he had to be in charge of it and now we didn’t even have food. I know if I say let’s go get some I’ll end up with a very hungry pair of blondes going with me. Then again, I’d be sticking Kevin with AJ.
The thing about AJ is that when it comes to Kevin, it’s complicated.
Like Kevin’s always been a father figure to the two youngest. Simple as that. But he’s always had this crazy bond with Nick. I don’t know why but those two were able to relate in ways no one actually got. Especially if you knew just how often those two fought. It used to be I’d have to calm Nick down constantly from whatever Kevin told him. But you’d also see Kevin helping Nick through whatever issue he had first. It kind of killed AJ that he had to share him.
So sometimes he’d sort of shadow him when he could. AJ’s weird.
“Things changed.” Brian answered for me as I shut the fridge again. “Kevin started hating being that after awhile, it’s part of why he decided he was done. Maybe he doesn’t want to do that again.”
Nick frowned, scratching the bridge of his nose. “But Jenn’s not here, we don’t have a label…”
“This means we’ll have to act like adults and actually try to agree on things.” Kevin finished for him as he stepped into the kitchen. Before I could even ask about the member missing he continued. “AJ’s currently on the phone with Rochelle and asking about her doctor visit.”
It was weird but even though Nick had been saying since day one of all this starting up again that he wanted to be sure Kevin didn’t see him as a kid anymore, he didn’t look as happy about the idea of not having someone in charge. I was kind of relieved. We could submit songs maybe as a group and just see which ones vibed the best. Not do it because we had to have some genre or because the label decided for us.
The freedom was so new to us.
Sure I had it for my solo album. Nick had it for his too. Neither of us had had legitimate labels. We had distribution deals in certain countries, the ability to put it on a website or iTunes, and that was about it. Neither of us had charted remarkably on the Billboard charts. Most people didn’t even know about the albums outside the fanbase. Both of us, I think, were okay with that. Because we’d gotten the chance to put out the music we’d wanted to. To show the world who we were outside of Backstreet whether our fans believed it or not. I love them but sometimes they think they know who they are better than us.
This was different though, so different. The media wouldn’t ignore us as a group and we didn’t want them to. We’d decided already that we were going to let the world believe this was a reunion for our twentieth anniversary. Another thing that’d drive our fans insane. But let’s be honest, it was good business because it created more hype and it sounded better. People didn’t know about Unbreakable or This Is Us outside those who were fans anyway. There was even going to be a documentary on the process to really reintroduce ourselves. (Or as Nick would say – doc-u-men-TARY.) We wanted 2013 to be our year.
It made all our moves risky, very risky.
I tuned back into the conversation between Brian, Nick and Kevin.
“But we never agree on anything.”
“We can buy those rock ‘em-sock ‘em robots when we can’t agree.” Brian joked as AJ came in the kitchen, reminding me how small it was as he held his phone up.
“What are you doing?”
“A kitchen booooommmmb!”
“Do you have to say it like it goes on twitter?”
“Fuck yeah, hey Howie, say hi to the fans!”
I couldn’t help but laugh. Talk about settling things with 80’s toys. A kitchen without any food in it. Walls covered in creepy demon paintings. AJ sticking some sort of recording device in my face. Kevin rolling his eyes while trying not to laugh and Brian helping Nick come up with crazier ways to settle debates. All in a house that looked like it belonged on Haunted Hill.
“C’mon D, make love to the camera for me!”
Nick snorted. “And fans think Howie’s the gay one?”
Just another day in the life of Backstreet!