[pullquote quote="If you lie with dogs, you're gonna get fleas." credit="Nick Carter, in our exclusive interview"]After nearly nine-years in the making, Backstreet Boys‘ [lastfm]Nick Carter[/lastfm] returns with his sophomore album, I’m Taking Off, a record he calls his first real solo achievement. From the struggles of 2002′s Now or Never (“It just wasn’t me”) Carter has come a long way. He kicked his drug and alcohol addiction, went public with serious family drama on the reality show “House of Carters” and is now happily back to his boy band roots. “If you lie with dogs, you’re gonna get fleas,” Carter tells Street Date. “The biggest hurdle was cleaning house.”
Read on as Carter talks about laboring away on this summer’s NKOTBSB fusion tour, what it’s like to travel with eight other men and how boy-band mania has reached new levels of super-fandom.
SD: Your last record was 8 years ago. Tell us why you waited so long to get back into the studio for I’m Taking Off.
NC: I needed to take time to figure out who I am and what music I want to give to the world. I had to live life and gain experience so that I would have the material to put out a great album. I’m the best I have ever been. There was no better time than now to throw that energy out there.
SD: What kind of music were you listening to while recording this album? Were there any unlikely sources of inspiration?
NC: [lastfm]Men Without Hats[/lastfm] comes to mind. My playlists are constantly changing: one day I’ll be listening to [lastfm]Lloyd[/lastfm] or [lastfm]Fleetwood Mac[/lastfm]‘s Rumours. Depends on the day and the mood I’m in.
SD: I’m Taking Off feels a lot like an extension of your [lastfm]Backstreet Boys[/lastfm] days, whereas your first album was more about you as a solo artist. Was this intentional in a “back to your roots” sort of way?
NC: I feel as though this is really my first solo album. I’m Taking Off is more me than my first [album]. I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing back then. I love some of the songs but it just wasn’t me.
SD: Do you have a favorite track on the album?
NC: My favorite track is probably “Falling Down.” I love that song. When I sing it live, something takes over and it takes me to another place.
SD: You’re touring with Backstreet Boys and NKOTB this summer. Have you found that boy-band mania dies down as your audience gets older?
NC: Not at all! If anything, the mania is at an all new level now that fans from BSB and NKOTB have joined together. The only difference I can see is that they are a lot more respectful.
SD: As one of five children, it’s safe to say you’re used to dealing with many different personalities in close quarters — but what’s it like to travel with eight other men?
NC: We each have our own bus and some of the guys in NKOTB share theirs. We all get along great and give each other space when needed. Our riders have calmed down over the years, so nothing too crazy. For me, it’s all fresh fruits and vegetables so I can juice!
SD: This December marks the second Backstreet Boys cruise. What’s a typical day at sea like with you guys?
NC: There are no typical days on a BSB cruise! They are filled with activities and shows and tons of surprises! Playing Twister with 10 people was really funny. Rear ends and faces ended up way too close to one another.
SD: You’ve been very open about recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. What’s been the biggest hurdle?
NC: The biggest hurdle was cleaning house. I had to surround myself with happy, healthy, positive people. If you lie with dogs you’re gonna get fleas. I’m Taking Off was definitely cathartic. I was getting my feelings and emotions out as well as conquering some personal goals and achieving them.
SD: You’re a successful musician, you’ve acted in films and reality TV, there’s even footage of you multi-tasking in the kitchen: cooking and singing at the same time. What are some other things you want to try in your career?
NC: Right now I’m studying guitar. I want to be able to play like [lastfm]Prince[/lastfm] or [lastfm]John Lennon[/lastfm]. I’m also writing my own scripts.
SD: You’ve been in the industry since you were a kid – so you’ve had some really special celebrity experiences. Has there ever been a moment when you’ve gotten especially star-struck, or thought, “I can’t believe this is happening to me right now.”
NC: Celebrities I can handle. I would be star struck to meet people like Norman Vincent Peale or Albert Einstein. Intellectual people intrigue me.