“Everything goes hand in hand. If I have a successful album, it just reflects on the success of my group, where I started and where I will always return,” McLean told CNN en Español via Zoom.
The music industry has seen time and time again how bands like *NSYNC or One Direction go their separate ways for good after one or more members pursue their own endeavors, breaking hearts around the world. But McLean said that when it comes to BSB, which has been going strong since 1993, “I’m not going anywhere, even though I’ve had the most successful period alone.”
“That’s my house,” he said. “That’s where I’m at. But I don’t see a problem with having the best of both worlds.”
This unity and knowing that they have each other’s backs has given them the confidence to explore other avenues. Kevin Richardson, who left the group for a six-year run from 2006-2012, has done Broadway; Brian Littrell did a Christian album and Howie Dorough released a children’s record. Meanwhile, Nick Carter has appeared in films, released several solo albums and teamed up with Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block for the duo Nick & Knight.
“Our number one priority out of the five is Backstreet Boys, which is at the center,” he said. “And, some of us, not all of us, aspire to do things outside the group.”
Earlier this month, McLean released “Smoke,” the first single from his upcoming album “Sex and Bodies.”
The song draws inspiration from Prince and George Michael and incorporates funk falsettos contrasting with the singer’s signature raspy sound. The song celebrates love and how relationships should feel “as simple as blowing smoke,” McLean said.
“No pun intended, but I lit a cigarette and I was like, you know, sometimes relationships can be as simple as blowing smoke,” he said. “Like, how easy it is if this person is one. That’s what inspired the title.”
“Sex and Bodies” will be McLean’s second solo album and will be released in early 2023.
“Let me just say it’s an incredible record. I’m very proud of it. And even though ‘Smoke’ is an amazing record, it’s not the best record on the album.”
McLean is currently touring the United States with the Backstreet Boys. A successful second leg of the DNA World Tour shows just how strong the Backstreet Boys are after three decades.
“The rest of the tour is sold out. Europe is sold out. Latin America is sold out,” McLean said. “It’s a testament to each other. It’s a testament to our fans and it’s a testament to the music.”
He added: “I’m honored to be a Backstreet Boy and proud to be a Backstreet Boy in 2022.”