With his COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS due out today, singer, songwriter and performerJOEY McINTYRE talks about holiday traditions, his Boston upbringing in a house of nine children, his NKOTB roots and his duet with Mario Cantone on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
You’ve done quite a lot to this point in your career. Why did you decide to make a Christmas record now?
JM: Well, to be honest I was itchy, creatively. I had been off the road for a couple of months and wanted to make a record. And “my Christmas album” has always had a prominent place on the back burner. It was in late September this year that I decided to do it and I just went for it. I knew time was tight, but if God was ever gonna help me out on a record, I figured it would be this one. I was lucky enough to have my producing partner Rob Lewis for this. Together we started on the same page and jumped right in.
This CD really seems to be a labor of love for you with you self-producing and self-releasing. How has the process been for you to be the artist, producer and label?
JM: I feel a sense of pride with this album that I haven’t felt with other albums I made. I am always very hands on in the creating of my music and writing. But these songs are special and I think I handled them with great care. From a producing side, I feel that I molded this with my hands.
You sing a duet with your sister Carol, with whom you say you sang your first onstage duet. Were you raised in a musical household? What was it like to sing with her again?
JM: It was very special to sing with my sister. I would not have been where I am in my career without her first holding my hand and leading me on stage. It made performing a very safe and natural experience. And now the stage is home to me. I have to say we sound great together on “Do You Hear What I Hear.” We have the same birthday (New Year’s Eve) ten years apart, we look alike and we sound a lot alike too
You come from a large family, are there any special holiday traditions or memories that stand out from your childhood?
JM: The holiday theme in a house full of nine kids in Boston was “survival of the fittest.” It was like a platoon camped out in our living room. But we were lucky to have each other. There were lots of good times, in between all the fights.
Let’s talk for a minute about the other duets with Jordan and Mario. How were those songs decided on?
JM: Well, I sang “Peace on Earth” with my sister Carol before and always loved singing the song. I thought it would be a nice match for me and Jordan. I was afraid that Jordan might not like it, but he thought it was cool and maybe a little off the beaten track of Christmas songs. Jordan suggested that we share the lead part that was once sung by David Bowie. I like how it turned out–true to the standard but modern enough.
And with Mario, I just knew a version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” would be a hoot. (I call him Buddy instead of Baby in this rendition.) Mario is a powerhouse. He’s done it all. We both love to perform and “go for it,” so it was a real thrill to see it come together.
Your versions of many of these holiday classics evoke classic renditions, yet they sound modern and updated. How did you decide on which songs to record?
JM: There are a ton of songs to pick from, but I think the song list came from a comfort level I have with them. These songs kind of roll off my tongue…or off my heart.
What was the recording process like? Did you set a mood in the studio to make it feel Christmas-y?
JM: Well, the cool thing about deciding in October to do this was that it at least felt like the holidays were around the corner. We did some recording in New York and in Boston, my hometown. I got all my nieces and nephews to sing on a couple of songs and that made for a fun and festive atmosphere in the studio.
Living in Los Angeles now, do you do anything special to make it feel more like home during the holidays? How will you celebrate the holiday season?
JM: Well, it’s nice if we get a few days of rain. I make believe its snow and make a fire. I also have my tradition of grilled ham and cheeses on challah raisin bread by the fire…with a good glass of red wine. Other than that I miss Boston desperately during the holidays.
What’s next for Joey McIntyre?
JM: Well, we have the juggernaut that is NKOTB–thanks to having the greatest fans on earth. We will be touring the UK and Europe and Australia in the spring of ’12 and then planning for some dates here in the states for the summer.
Personally, I am focusing on acting with some cool guest spots–CSI: NY and Psych–and a nice part in one of the year’s holiday movies “New Year’s Eve.” All the while having my hands full with two boys–4 and almost 2 years old–and a beautiful little six-month old girl, who can do no wrong.