Published on July 13th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Backstreet Boy Howie D On His New Album “Which One Am I?” & His Other Successful Ventures
Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, Howie Dorough’s passion for music and entertaining was evident very early into his childhood. By the time he was seven years old, Howie had performed his first role in a musical production of The Wizard Of Oz. He ultimately acted in a Nickelodeon TV production, starred in a commercial for Walt Disney World, and even landed roles in movies such as Parenthood and Cop & A Half. After high school, Howie studied music at the University Of South Florida until he got his big break as one-fifth of the record-breaking Backstreet Boys at the age of 19.
Fast forwarding a few decades, The Backstreet Boys have sold over 100 million records worldwide. The group continues to pack arenas and other large venues all around the world, being one of the first still-popular musical acts to successfully put on a Las Vegas residency. Its latest album, DNA, was released earlier back in January 2019 and debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 beyond yielding another three hit singles; “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “Chances” and “No Place” all charted from DNA, which was notably the quintet’s first chart-topping album since 2000’s Black & Blue.
While being in one of the world’s most successful bands would be enough for many performers, Dorough — better known as Howie D — has also kept regularly active as a solo artist. His latest solo effort is the family-friendly album Which One Am I?, which has already received rave reviews from People Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed and Entertainment Tonight. It was co-written by Dorough with Grammy-nominated artist Tor Hyams and veteran Broadway performer Lisa St. Lou.
As related to Which One Am I?, Howie D: Back In the Day will have its world premiere in early 2020 at the famed Rose Theater in Omaha, Nebraska with the superstar himself performing as part of its opening run. I had the pleasure of speaking with Howie D himself about Which One Am I? and plenty more by phone. Below is a few minutes transcribed from that July 2019 phone conversation, while the full interview will appear next month on the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast.
In the meantime, more on Howie D and Which One Am I? can be found online at www.howied.net.
On making his next album Which One Am I?:
Howie D: I’m very proud of this record, Which One Am I?. It was something that started, the journey, about five years ago, I’d say. I was trying to be a father as much as I could be on my downtime… I just really found it hard to be able to sit and and relate to them with the music that was out there… There are so many other things I was able to do at home, including going to see movies like Wreck-It Ralph, Toy Story, those other great fun things to do. But you know just music-wise, I had a hard time connecting with them…
One day when I was at a concert and our fans, who have grown up with us now, having kids, bringing their kids to the concerts. I’m like, “OK here it is. I’m going to do something that is enjoyable for both generations.” I did probably actually start, like I said, the process about five years ago. I got to go with two great writers out of New York, Tor Hyams and Lisa St. Lou, and they’re both great writers. Tor is a Grammy-nominated writer… Lisa is a performer on Broadway… We connected. We started talking over the phone for two hours. We got to know each other and it’s like, “We’re going to write about your life story… You have so many great things, you know, issues that you went through as a little kid that are still relatable kids nowadays.” So we started writing about things I went through. Issues like being you know shy, being my older sister’s shadow…
On the album’s first single “No Hablo Español”:
Howie D: The first single, called “No Hablo Español,” is about me as a kid growing up and my mother being Spanish and my dad being Scottish/Irish and Scandinavian… You look at me and you definitely get the Hispanic part, you don’t get all the other stuff. And so a lot of people would just automatically start speaking in Spanish and had to learn really quickly… I didn’t know Spanish. My mother was of that generation that didn’t want the kids coming to America with an accent and being discriminated against.
On whether Which One Am I? is a proper continuation of his solo career:
Howie D: Well it’s a continuation… I feel like I’m definitely a part of the Backstreet Boys and that is a part of me… Each of us within the group, we’ve always allowed each other and support each other spreading our wings and doing individual stuff. We know that Backstreet Boys isn’t going to go away anytime soon… We have such a bond together that we know this is our true life, just what got us here. But at the same time it does allow us to express our individuality and we may not be able to do with the Backstreet Boys…
I had a mission to make a true family album… The first song on the record, which is the title of the album, is the only song where I was really influenced by the guys. Every other song I was truly as influenced by my family and my entire life as a little kid. But the first song on the album, I paid tribute and homage to the guys… I was able to make fun out of a little song that I did… Based around the idea of people not knowing when I say the name [of the band] and they don’t know who I am in the group, so I figured I’d explain it.
On his last words for the kids:
Howie D: I hope they enjoy this album as much as I did making it. I’m very proud of it and hopefully they’ll have some great memories that they can create with their families, with their parents and brothers and sisters. I look forward to hopefully seeing everyone at Back In The Day in Omaha, Nebraska at the Rose Theater in the end of January, early February.