OK! UK: New Kids On The Block hunk Jordan Knight talks making sweet music again

Boyband star reveals what goes down on a nkotb cruise!

Tuesday 2 Apr 2013
Above: Jordan Knight tells us he never thought the band would still be together 30 years after starting out
WHEN the email landed in our inbox asking if we’d like to interview New Kids On The Block, we must admit we were excited to say the least!
Those handsome boys set our world on fire when they burst onto the pop scene back in the mid-’80s with hits such as Hangin’ Tough, Step By Step and You Got It (The Right Stuff)

Now, almost 30 years on, the sound of handsome frontman Jordan Knight’s voice – this time not on the radio but on the other end of our actual phone – is still setting OK!’s heart aflutter.

 ‘Hello, how are you?’ he drawls in his sleepy Massachusetts accent. ‘Where are you, London? I’m in Boston.’ In true Jerry Maguire style, our childhood pop heart-throb still has us at hello.

Looking back on a long, successful career, it’s easy to see how it could’ve all ended so differently for the singer. 

Now 42 and happily settled with his wife of eight years, Evelyn, and their sons, Dante, 13, and Eric, six, Jordan faced a well-publicised battle with alcoholism, famously saying it was one particularly bad hangover seven years ago that made him realise he had to grow up for the sake of his kids.
And grow up he has. After the band split in 1994, Jordan went off to pursue a successful solo career, before reuniting with NKOTB – brother Jonathan Knight and pals Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood – in 2007. 

Now they’re back with their sixth studio album, 10. And boy it’s a corker.
Here, speaking exclusively to OK! from his home in Boston, Jordan offers his advice to Justin Bieber on avoiding the pitfalls of fame, reveals how bandmate Donnie is stopping NKOTB from coming back to the UK and the line of questioning that made the ‘prudish American’ singer choke on his water midway through our interview…

Did you ever think starting out in 1984 that you’d be here, with such a huge fan base, almost 30 years later?
No, actually, I didn’t. I kept things open and I thought, anything is possible, but I didn’t force-feed it. For a couple of years before we reunited, of course I envisioned it, we all did. But 20 years ago I didn’t think we’d still be doing this in our forties. It’s more of a fun, joyful experience now. It’s not as crazy as it was before.

You were 14 when you joined the group – do you have any words of wisdom for Justin Bieber? He’s had a tough time recently…
I think Bieber’s doing the right thing. Don’t take any junk from nobody! [Laughs] No, I think lately Justin’s had a bad time of it. But nobody really sees what the guys are saying to him before he lashes out at them. The paparazzi say really mean, cruel things to you so they get that reaction. He’s young, he doesn’t know like, maybe I shouldn’t take the bait on this one.

Did that ever get to you guys?
Yes, but you have to learn to be like, oh I’m in a game here, these people are trying to play me out. They say something funny and you learn to say, oh that’s funny, he’s trying to bait me. All the public see is him lashing out and it’s: ‘Oh, Justin Bieber’s going crazy!’ But that’s not really the truth, he’s just reacting to something one person shouldn’t say to another person. It would’ve got to us, but maybe we could recover better because we could talk to each other.

You’re a dad to two boys – if your eldest came to you and said: ‘Dad, I want to be in a boy band,’ what would your advice be?
I’d say: ‘Oh well, I’m going to have to manage you if you want to do that.’ I’d have to have a little control over it at least till he’s 18.

Does your wife get jealous about the time you spend away from home and the attention you receive from fans?
She doesn’t get jealous, she gets antsy because I’m away, or lonely as well as I do, and we miss each other, so that’s a challenge to make sure we’re able to see each other when I’m on some lengthy tour. We actually went to London, last year when we were touring there, she came to London and she loved it. She was like [puts on a girlie voice]: ‘Oh my God, it’s so much better than American cities.’

Maybe you should visit again and bring the tour you’re doing Stateside with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men to the UK…
There are so many stops here in North America that we kind of have to do that first and then Donnie has to go back to filming [Donnie stars in hit CBS drama Blue Bloods], so we can’t just take it straight to the UK. We’ll have to wait till the year after and then we’re coming to the UK. Hopefully it’ll be The Package Tour, or maybe we can grab a couple of boy bands from the UK to join us.

Are you nervous about the release of the new album? After 14 years away from the charts, your last album, The Block, debuted at number one…
Not really. Groups like us who’ve been around for a while, we’ve established our fan base, so I feel like as long as we put out good music for them, that’s the main thing. If it doesn’t go to the top of the charts fine, but if it does then that’s great as well.

The Block – not to mention your solo single Give It To You – were rather risqué. There’s none of that on 10 – are you guys going soft in your old age?!
[Laughs] Are we what in our old age?! Definitely not! No, no, no. I guess on The Block, it was much more risqué. With this album we wanted to take a sweeter, tender, more gentlemanly approach. Often that leads quicker to the… er… end desired result than just coming out with it! [Laughs] 

Jordan, you’re making us blush!
[Laughs] Hmmm… [Coughs a lot]

Are you okay?!
Yes, I swallowed some water the wrong way.

It’s all that talk of explicit songs!
Exactly, I had to take a sip of water after that! [Laughs]

On a similar subject, you’re about to set sail on the fifth NKOTB cruise. We’ve had our request for a press place on the boat rejected – what happens on the cruise that you don’t want us to know about?!
Well we’re not going to sing 10, we’re only going to sing The Block if that gives you any indication! No, I’m just kidding. I can’t believe they didn’t give you a cabin. Man! I might pull some strings…

Please do! What happens on the cruise?
Well… a lot of fun. We don’t sleep much, we party every night, we perform a lot of songs, I don’t drink but everybody else does. 

You’re not giving much away! We’ve read that no cameras are allowed in the arena for one of Donnie’s shows…
That show, I haven’t even seen that show, what goes down! I taught a yoga class on the boat and it’s funny because I was the only one doing yoga. It was me in the centre of the deck doing yoga poses and everyone else was sitting around watching me, ogling!

On the subject of ogling… You flew out to Ayia Napa to take part in Channel 5’s Trust Me – I’m A Holiday Rep – how was that?
It was fun. That was an experience, just to be where people from the UK go. Did you see when I was talking about the topless sunbathers? I thought topless sunbathing was a French or Italian Rivera thing, but British women just yank it off! There’s none of that on the cruise – we have a British section for us prudish Americans, we have to section it off! [Laughs].

You’re not prudish – we’ve seen pictures of you guys online, six-packs out, tops off…
It’s true, it’s true! [Laughs] We’ve learnt well from the British. I promise we’ll repay you by coming over and seeing you guys soon.

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