The Curious Case of Tommy Smith

The Darkside Forum is an absolute treasure trove of information on the Backstreet Boys. If you haven’t stopped by, please make sure you do.  A little bit of exploration and you’ll find that it is the most comprehensive forum with topics ranging from rare unreleased tracks to best performances to the Backstreet Boys’ nipples, The Darkside has you covered!

The great thing about the site is that fans from all over the world that are equally as obsessed as us are able to dig up all kinds of content for us to share and pick apart.  One of our most senior members, Hayley, has been a huge contributor.  She found an old archived website that was driven by one of the Boys’ former band members (www.bsbband.com), Tommy Smith.  For fans that were around in 1997-1998, Tommy is a lot easier to identify.  He wrote songs with Brian and was a presence on stage for several key tours and performances.

ts1

That’s Tommy Smith.  Don’t remember him?  Do you remember this guy?

ts2

If you remember this guy, congratulations – you’ve definitely seen Tommy perform with the Boys before!

Ultimately, Tommy’s parting of ways with the group wasn’t pretty:  he sued the Boys in 2002 for not receiving writing credit for Time and Answer to Our Lives.  There were even some supposed comments from him floating around on forums (none of which were nearly as amazing as The Darkside, of course) regarding the suit and the Boys’ reactions.

All that aside, Tommy was a fantastic source of information on the Boys, their music, and their talent.  Let’s check out a few excerpts and see if we can enlighten even the most die-hard BSB fans with some stories you may not have known before!

What would you think of the Backstreet Boys if you weren’t a band member?

If I didn’t know them? I would think “Nah, they can’t really sing that well.” “It’s all on tape like the Spice Girls”. Then when I met them, wow, they can really sing. Listen up people, I’ve seen a million celebrities meet the Backstreet Boys and they all have the same thing to say. “Wow they can really sing!” Same thing with me. If I didn’t rehearse with them everyday, I would probably make fun of them. Just like a lot of people do. Let me tell you a story…The first time we were on the “Tonight Show,” we hired two guitar players. When we were in rehearsal for that show Kevin kept yelling at one of them because he was out of tune. He was one of the best studio guitar players in LA. He said, “Who in the hell does this kid think he is?” Well, it turned out he WAS out of tune. During lunch he answered your question. Quote “Wow, I thought that these kids were a joke, but they are really musicians!!” That is your answer, if I didn’t know them I would think they were a joke too. But they’re not. And sometimes you have to meet them to understand that.

Yes, I love Kevin.  Yes, it’s obvious based on the writing I do for the blog.  No, I really don’t give a shit that things like this make me openly swoon.  Also, I’m ignoring the Spice Girls shade!!  LEAVE THE SPICE GIRLS ALONE, TOMMY!

I luv the song “Where can We Go From Here?” (thumbs up!! ) its really good! I was wondering if it’ll be on the next album, Millennium, or if it’ll be on a B-side sometime soon. also is the song longer that that in the unplugged vid, coz its kinda short on the video.

Your right, it is short. We had only 3 minutes for Brian’s’ solo and he wanted to do both “that’s what she said” and “where can we go”. So we had to chop them both up. There is a second verse that you haven’t heard yet. Where can we go will not be included on the new album. Brian says that we will find a place for it somewhere. Maybe a B-side. Maybe in a movie or something.

Alas, Where Can We Go From Here has never been released in any capacity other than the medley Brian performed during A Night Out With The Backstreet Boys.  This is one of my all time favorite unreleased tracks and it’s a travesty we don’t even have a crappy demo version (we know you have it somewhere, Mr. Littrell, and if I ever hone my hacking skills I’m coming for you).  Given how Tommy and the Boys ended their relationship, the release of this track probably stands a snowball’s chance in hell at best.  I would love to get the opportunity to ask Brian about this song specifically and about his relationship with Tommy after he filed suit.  Brian and Tommy were always collaborating (Tommy co-wrote That’s What She Said) and they seemed to have wonderful musical chemistry.

Why is the “As Long as You Love Me” on the American album different then the “As Long as You Love Me” on the Backstreet’s Back album? The Backstreet’s Back version sounds more electronic or something, i can’t figure out really how they’re different…they just are.

Very astute of you. I asked the same question. You’re right, they are different and its all do to a mistake. Before a song is finished it has to be “Mixed”. This is like a fine tuning of all the vocal and instrumental levels, adding different sounds and fixing any problems that linger. The resulting version is called the “final mix”. The final mix of As long as you love me was included on the Backstreet’s Back album. However on the American album, someone at Jive made a mistake and put the “Demo mix” on there instead. Max Marin, who wrote the song was not too happy about this. He told me this story himself. There are other differences as well. See if you can pick them out.

I always knew there was a different version of As Long As You Love Me on Backstreet’s Back, but I assumed the changes that were made to the Backstreet Boys‘ international release were intentional.  I almost want to kiss whatever sound engineer made that fuck up because I like both versions so much!!  It also kind of makes you wonder what the check and balance process looked like at Jive that a flub like that could be mass produced.  Aside from the opening, I’m not sure what other differences exist between the two versions – have any of you been able to identify them?

Speaking of different versions of the same song…

Why are there two different versions of “Heaven in your eyes”?

“Heaven” was written by a friend of Nick’s named Andy. He recorded a “Demo” of the song in New York and that is the version that we learned for the live show. We have played it this way for well over a year. When Jive finally approved the song for the new album they turned it over to one of the most respected producers in the music industry. His name is Jeff “Mutt” Lange. He is also Shania Twain’s husband by the way. He also wrote “If you wanna be a good girl (get yourself a bad boy)”. It was his idea to change the name and the “Feel” of the song. Neither version is better or worse than the other, you’re just used to the way we play it live. Nick enjoys singing the song live and it has always been a show-stopper for him. On the other hand, The new version is much better for radio air play if it ever becomes a single. As to what version we will play live, that’s up to Nick. But whatever we do with it, I’m sure that we will strive to perform the song with all the emotional strength that we have done in the past.

To me, the Heaven In Your Eyes version of I Need You Tonight was …better.  By a lot. The replacement of the lyrics ‘I see heaven in your eyes’ with the redundant ‘I really need you tonight’ didn’t do anything to improve the song for me.  The version Nick performed pre-Millennium (did he ever perform it post Millennium aside from just once for an Aaron Carter special?  If not, the irony of changing it to be more “radio friendly” is especially ridiculous), was more powerful emotionally and far more impressive vocally.  It does make you think they were very seriously considering releasing it as a single, however, which is interesting for a ton of reasons.  Mostly because there were a bunch of other more single-worthy songs on Millennium.  It sounds like the commitment to make Nick the breakout star of BSB was well in progress before Jive pulled their Now or Never shenanigans. Either way, Mutt hasn’t had a lot of luck rewriting songs for the Boys – don’t forget he’s also responsible for the No Goodbyes version of I Want It That Way!

I was just wondering if in the song “All I Have to Give” does Howie sing that really really high note in one of the refrains of the chorus at the end of the song? My friends and I think it is Howie because in the video at that part it looks like he’s screeching into the microphone. I think it’s impossible to sing that high but I could be wrong. Thanx

Howie actually sings that. Although I sort of “Back him up” on a high keyboard note. You probably hear more of me than him.

If you aren’t sure which note he’s talking about, it’s a high A note that Howie hits at the 3:22 mark of All I Have To Give.  Howie once again proving why he’s the unsung hero of the Backstreet Boys.

Does A.J. dye his hair???

Of course not. He just mutates every once in awhile.

AJ as a member of the X-Men might be my next blog post….

Has there been a time when you’ve been the most proud to be a part of the whole Backstreet Boys experience?

Probably the video “A night out with the Backstreet Boys”. That was very special to me. When the boys said “We are just going to take some time out and let people know that we can really sing” I was extremely proud of them on that one. Anytime I hear someone dissing the boys I play that tape for them. Usually that shuts them up in a hurry.

This is the second time I’m mentioning the A Night Out special in this post and I glad Tommy has given me the chance to shine a light on how awesome that performance was. Besides Where Can We Go From HereWho Do You Love is another track that the Boys performed which was slated to appear on Millennium.  While we haven’t been able to get our hands on studio version of either track, at least we have a couple of full performances of Who Do You Love – the best quality coming from A Night Out.  It took the fellas until the This Is Us era to do another acoustic special performance (that wasn’t filmed and released because the Boys are stupid) and I’m really hoping we don’t need to wait another decade for the next time they conceptualize and execute something this satisfying.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the tidbits Tommy has shared.  There is a TON more where that came from and all of it can be found in a thread on The Darkside forum, so be sure to check it out!

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