BY David Michael Conner

October 20 2009 5:50 PM ET

Nick Carter’s excitement over the new Backstreet Boys album, This Is Us, is palpable: It’s a return to form, with track after track of the kind of pop music that put the 1990s boy band on the map. Carter points to Moroccan-Swedish RedOne -- who can take at least a little credit for Lady Gaga’s '80s-inspired dance beats -- as the kind of Scandinavian who has pop music in his DNA. RedOne is among the red-hot producers (including T.I.) who have updated the Backstreet sound just a notch on the new album.

And yet it’s clear that This Is Us represents a crossroads for Carter, who recognizes the album as a return to a successful formula -- and who has cleaned up his act in order to seriously pursue other creative and professional outlets, including writing, directing, acting in, and producing films that explore his self-professed “dark side.”

Advocate.com: This Is Us sounds like the Backstreet Boys from way back, but you worked with a lot of new producers, including RedOne, who has produced Lady Gaga, Robyn, and a lot of current dance music artists. Did working with new producers affect your music much?
Nick Carter: I think that, actually, it made us sound like even more of what we are. RedOne is from Sweden and it’s almost like he does music like ours back in the day. I think it’s a really good combination. It’s very familiar because… he’s from Sweden and a lot of our greatest hits, and the greatest pop songs, came from Sweden. [This album] is our pride and joy. We love it so much. We’ve worked so hard on creating an album that is worthy of radio and worthy of stuff that we’ve done in the past -- just really good music, you know? It’s got a nice little dance vibe to it. It’s music that you can dance to in a club, you can play in your car… it’s feel-good music.


The Swedish pop influence is pretty prominent in the new album. But you’ve also got songs like “Helpless,” produced by T-Pain, which has a little bit more of a Miami trance vibe than we’re used to hearing from the Backstreet Boys, and rap artist Pitbull even makes an appearance on that track.
Yes. You know, the trance and the Miami feel just came naturally with [producer] Jim Jonsin. That’s stuff that he loves 'cause he’s from Miami. And it was cool because it gave a new element, a new flavor -- something that we hadn’t done before. Experimenting with new music like we did with our last album is fun to do unless -- we just didn’t feel like it was us, the last couple of albums. We didn’t feel that the pop rock feeling that we were going with really fit us and we were asking ourselves the questions, Who are we? What are we? Well, we’re a pop band. We’re not trying to be something that we’re not and we might as well just be who we are. We might as well go back to what we do best. And so, if you think about our past albums, they have a little bit of R&B influence, a little bit of dance, and we’re just pop music. We’re just trying to re-create that sound that everybody knew us as and loved us as. I think that we really came through and did that, and we’re so excited.

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