Jordan Knight’s Unfinished Business: New Kid Brings Solo Tour To Canada
Celebrity Interview by Jason Clevett
It has been a busy couple of years for Jordan Knight. As member of The New Kids On The Block, he’s toured the world on a giant penis, selling out arenas on the NKOTBSB tour, released a solo album, and judged last year’s Cover Me Canada. Many people would take a break at this point, but Knight had some unfinished business with Canada.
"It is a lot of fun, I love to tour and be on the road. I had a really nice relaxing summer for two and a half months. You kind of get the itch and want that excitement. I didn’t do Canada on my solo tour so I feel like I left them out. Canada is one of New Kids and my solo music’s supporters so I felt it necessary to come up there. A lot of fans wanted me there, there were a lot of different reasons."
Knight chatted with GayCalgary Magazine in advance of his Live & Unfinished tour which hits Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre October 16th and Macewan Hall in Calgary October 18th. Knight is excited to bring the intimate solo tour to Canadian fans.
"When you do a solo tour you can really showcase yourself and your talents. During the show I do a whole piano set. It is really cool because the audiences are smaller so you can joke around with them, take some requests, and I can take my time and sing songs I wouldn’t sing on a New Kids tour. I can sing more obscure songs that diehard fans know, which is good for me and for the fans that know every single recording. It is really gratifying. I love to tour by myself but I also love to do the New Kids On The Block, it really balances out my career as a singer. I don’t do New Kids stuff, all solo stuff. Some of it sounds like New Kids because I am one of them."
The intimate venues are quite different from the massive boy-band extravaganza that was the NKOTBSB tour which came to Alberta in July 2011. The combined headlining show with The Backstreet Boys brought two of the most popular boy bands of all time and was an amazing night for fans of both groups.
“I agree it was one of the highlights of my career. In 2009 we were doing a summer tour and some of the promoters suggested the Backstreet Boys open up for us. We kind of thought that was selling the whole thing short. They are a huge international act and have so many great songs and are a class act. So we put that in our pocket because we could go as a co-headline and make a great show, a boy band extravaganza type of thing instead of them just opening for us. We did a show in New York City at Radio City Music Hall and invited them to come on stage and join us to sing I Want It That Way. For the first 20 seconds the crowd was like what
is going on here? Their jaws dropped and they were silent. As the song grew and they saw that we were really collaborating together onstage and there was goodwill there, they went crazy. It showed us that it was a good idea to tour with them. After that we were off so we put the tour together and went on the road.”
The stage design was... interesting. Those logging online to purchase tickets and see the map of the venue were greeted with what appeared to be a giant penis. “The name ‘penis stage’ came afterwards. We didn’t design it to look like a penis, but it did so we called it that. Nine guys on stage there is nothing more appropriate then being on a big penis stage.
We got a lot of feedback from the fans and in these big arenas a lot of fans don’t have great seats. They are far away from the stage and they want to be close, and we want to be close to them. They designed this long ego stage, it is called an ego thrust and it was the biggest ever, so they designed it and showed it to us…and we said, it looks like a penis. We like it! It was designed to get close to the fans and for everybody to have a good seat.”
The tour also had VIP Meet and Greet packages, seemingly a staple in the industry now. In Calgary I met fans who had purchased VIP packages for multiple tours and cities, which shows
the rabid passion of some, who can meet Jordan in person this tour as well.
“The VIP thing is kind of the modern model for touring. It also goes well with twitter and facebook and social media. Now instead of having fans you have fans/friends, you get to know them from the tweets they send and the videos they make and the VIP stuff you have a closer connection. It is another way to really get closer and know the fans better. It makes it more of an experience for myself and the fans.”
On a break from the tour, Jordan was a judge on the CBC show Cover Me Canada which ran for one sason and featured contestants singing Canadian songs.
“It was actually a good experience. I wish that the show got picked up again so that I could pick up where I left as far as being a judge. It is challenging for me to do that stuff,
I know what I am talking about but it can be hard to formulate it into words. I would love to do it again. To see all the emerging talent in Canada was great. It was filmed in Toronto and a lot of my fans were in the crowd every week, Deborah Cox was awesome and Ron Fair was great. It was definitely fun.”
It wasn’t his first foray into reality television. Knight had previously been a judge on American Juniors and participated in two seasons of The Surreal Life as well as the UK documentary Trust Me – I’m A Holiday Rep.
“These stations like MTV and VH1 used to play videos and now they do a lot of reality shows. They have taken over. A lot of people do videos on YouTube, it is seeing people in their everyday environment as real people. Icons are now just regular people instead of these glossy polished images. A lot of people want to see more behind the curtain, raw and who you really are it is becoming the norm. It’s not that I’m interested in reality shows, just that is what is en vogue and popular these days.”
One reality show that might be interesting would be the life of Lady Gaga. In 2008 the relative
unknown had just hit the charts with the song Just Dance and was one of the opening acts for the New Kids The Block tour. Fans that 2 years later paid $200+ per ticket to see her headline Rexall Place likely had no idea who they were seeing.
“You can never say 100% sure that you knew someone will be a star, but I felt that she was a star. We were in the studio we were with RedOne producing and he said my brothers I have this girl I am working with who would like to come down and write with you guys, she is a great writer. In comes Lady Gaga and not being onstage or in front of a camera she exudes artist. We wrote the song Big Girl Now with her and she was on the same label with us so why not do a duet? So we put her on the album and the label asked us to put her on the show. She ended up with a smash record. We didn’t know she would be humongous but we definitely saw the potential.”
In 1990, I attended the New Kids on the Block concert at the Saddledome. Being a young male NKOTB fan had its challenges. Teenagers could be heard complaining about how much the band sucked, but worse would throw around terms like “fags” to describe the band. Jordan reflected on the challenges in that era of dealing with the homophobia. His brother Jonathan is a member of the band and came out in publicly in 2011.
“This was more than 20 years ago so things were different then. Homosexuality wasn’t as accepted back then as it is now. It did bug me a little bit because a lot of people would say Jordan’s gay and I’m not. As far as Jon, it is almost like I took the attention off the guy who was really gay, my brother. I don’t know exactly how he dealt with it; it must have been very tough for him. Back then you didn’t have openly gay boy band members, it would have been
taboo. It is hard to believe that was only 20 years ago. We banded together as a group and we were good friends so I’d be able to talk to the other guys about it. It was what it was, it didn’t bother me too much because I was just who I was so whatever.”
Jon’s “coming out” was fairly casual. After 80’s pop idol Tiffany said he was, he posted a statement on the bands website stating, “To all my fans who have expressed concern: I have never been outed by anyone but myself. I did so almost twenty years ago. I never knew that I would have to do it all over again publicly just because I reunited with NKOTB! I have lived my life very openly and have never hidden the fact that I am gay. Apparently the prerequisite to being a gay public figure is to appear on the cover of a magazine with the caption, I am gay. I love living my life being open and honest, but at this time I choose not to discuss my private life any further! My fellow band members don’t discuss their private lives with their loved ones and I don’t feel that just because I am gay, I should have to discuss mine!”
The more casual way of coming out and lack of drama around it shows progress, Jordan believes.
“We are also going to see athletes starting to come out I think.When Lance Bass came out I was asked about it and I said, I think it’s great. He’s made it ok for a boy band to have a gay member, or two or whatever. I am glad that it has gotten to that point. I was just watching CNN and the preacher Joel Osteen was on and there are people that still believe it’s unnatural and a sin and blah blah blah but, it is really cool to see there is a lot of movement in the direction of it not being unnatural because there are gay people in the world and always have been so how is it unnatural? That whole notion of people being more accepting and not seeing gay people as something bad or is a choice, or it being a bad choice. We are all opening up.”
Boy bands have long been supported by the gay community, which means a lot to Knight who has long had gay people in his life.
“I think it is wonderful. I have never really found anything wrong with gay people, I have always worked with gay people; my brother is gay, some of the best songs and choreography have been created by gay people. To me it is just a normal thing to work with anyone. To be supported by the gay community is great. It shows that I am open and not judgmental in any way.”
It has been 4 years since the New Kids reunited and released The Block. Fans who are anxiously awaiting a new album won’t have to wait long.
“I am doing this tour and then right after I will be in the studio with the New Kids doing another album. We have some great songs lined up. It is awesome when you do new material because with it comes new choreography, new videos, a new stage act…it is just new new new. The fans and us will both be very happy. It has been 4 years since a new album so it is always fun to do new stuff.”
To tide you over, you can get your dose of one New Kid in October in what promises to be an amazing show.
“The show is great. There is some great choreography, there are a lot of up-tempo songs on Unfinished and there are a lot of ballads from past albums. It showcases the things I love which is dance, choreography, ballads and I love good pop and R&B music. The band I have is from Boston and they are all Berkeley College of Music alumni and are incredible musicians, they just have it. They are a great sounding band and compliment the whole show.”