It has been an honest to goodness honor to work for The Darkside blog and to participate on the forum which houses some of the most diverse Backstreet Boys fans you’ll ever meet. The forum has become a virtual treasure trove of personalities, debate, and discussion. It legitimately blows my mind that there are so many different types of fans that exist within the Backstreet Army and we felt it was about time we shine a light on fans that didn’t follow what might be considered a traditional fan trajectory. Did you know there are fans out there that started getting acquainted with the Backstreet Boys when there were only four members? What about those that weren’t as interested in the group in 1999 but found their love grow beginning after Never Gone was released? There are even fans of the Boys that are STILL TEENAGERS. For those keeping track, that means kids born after 1997 have somehow discovered our beloved Backstreet Boys without ever witnessing their utter dominance of the music industry. That… is so fucking cool.
Today we’d like to profile one of our less-rare-than-in-the-past male fans! Sagar is a regular participant and moderator on the TDS forum and isn’t just a non-traditional fan because he’s a dude. Sagar’s taste in music leans decidedly NOT pop-centric and when you’re breaking down music you can’t ask for more than people with a varied pallet. I’ve always appreciated how much he adds to our discussions as they surround the important stuff like vocals, musical styles, and production quality.
Let’s hear from Sagar directly on his journey as a BSB fan!
When were you first made aware of the Backstreet Boys? Not necessarily when you first heard their music, but when did you first hear about them in the media, from friends, etc.
Well, the first I heard of them was in 1998 when I was 13, during a mock fashion show at an event in my school back in India. Everybody came on during the show, and a bunch of people got excited over it (this was late 1998). I asked one of my friends who the band was, and he said “Backstreet Boys” and looked at me all surprised because I didn’t know. I wasn’t into a lot of contemporary pop music even then, I just had old mixtapes of 70s/80s music. But I did like the song from whatever I heard.
And at what point did you first listen to their music? (Bonus points if you remember the first song that you heard!)
Well that would be right there in 1998, when I listened to “Everybody”. I actually went with my dad to the music store to get one of those “current hits” sort of audio cassette compilations, and spotted Everybody on one of them. I went home and played it and was hooked instantly.
What were your first impressions of their music? Did you see what they looked like before or after you first heard them and did that change your perception of them/were you surprised at all by their appearance?
I loved Everybody, it was the first song of BSB that I heard. Then some time later, I chanced upon a live performance of 10,000 promises (from what I would later know and love as the Night Out acoustic show). And I couldn’t believe this was the same band. I loved their harmonies. This was also the first time I actually saw them without all the special effects make-up and their “guys on broken down tour bus” attire on the Everybody video. I actually pictured them as punk-looking before! But they made quite the impression as serious singers and performers on me by then. Then I heard Quit Playing Games, I’ll Never Break your Heart and figured their range of songs well.
When would you say you became a Fan, with a capital F as opposed to a casual listener?
Millennium, definitely. And I Want It That Way in particular. Was just blown away by the song and the hype it generated. Bought Millennium, listened over & over to it beginning to end (well, I skipped Don’t Want you Back, No one else comes close sometimes). Then I looked forward to all their videos on rotation on music channels, live performances. I went back and bought their older albums, the debut & Backstreet’s Back. Everything but their topless pictures on my wall.
As a male fan, you’re kind of a rare bird! What is the general feedback you get from other people when they find out you’re a BSB fan?
I know right? I get to experience what it feels like to be in the minority and not the central focus of the marketing for a change. It didn’t stand out as much the late 90s when everybody and their mama liked BSB. But yeah, sometimes I get made fun of by friends (some of these guys loved BSB when they came out, which I duly point out). But it’s especially strange when I go to concerts. People are always expecting me to be accompanying my superfan girlfriend, when it’s the other way around. Most people don’t say much except “Really, you like them?”.
I know you aren’t into a lot of pop music in general, what artists do you listen to the most outside of the Boys?
I am a huge fan of this progressive metal band called Dream Theater. Other bands I love are the Eagles, Bryan Adams, Tool, A Perfect Circle. I listen to a lot of 60s and 70s rock music, some of the current metal and experimentative rock bands, some old-school hip-hop. I also love old Indian film music a lot.
How do you reconcile your general musical tastes with your love of the Backstreet Boys? Or is it not even worth it to try lol?
I suppose Bryan Adams is more of a pop musician, and bands like The Eagles and some of the older rock bands focused on harmonies. So it’s not hard to reconcile at least some of my tastes in music. I do have a very eclectic taste in music otherwise, so it doesn’t really bother me if BSB stands out a bit more from the rest. The common thread would be that I like passionate music, whether its love songs, inspirational or socially relevant messages within lyrics. Or just intense instrumentation. If I feel songs are completely “hollow”, they don’t interest me.
What keeps you in the fandom?
The main thing would be the Backstreet Boys, their longevity, talent and desire to keep making good music. I also love how varied the fandom is. It may have shrunk over the years but it’s still very widespread across the world. So you get people from so many different backgrounds. It’s nice to be able to interact with people about the Boys’ music and other things too. I care a lot about the Boys’ music, so being able to interact with other fans about what I like and dislike, and want them to do is a lot of fun.
Wow, first of all let me thank Sagar again for speaking with us on the blog and giving us invaluable insight into his evolution as a Backstreet fan. Who amongst you didn’t love the thought of a guy dragging his girlfriend to Backstreet Boys shows?! I love hearing stories of what people connect to the most and what keeps us all here, continuing to love and appreciate our Boys, especially people that don’t seem to fit into the perceived model of what we expect Backstreet fans to look like. Thank you again, Sagar!