The reunited fivesome formed in 93 and chose SeaWorld as their first on stage performance
In 1993, Kentucky cousins Kevin Richardson and Brian Litrell made the move from the back rows of the local church choir to the big stage. They were thrown together with the other three – A.J., Howie, and Nick – and the preeminent boy band was set in stone. Their first show at Sea World in Orlando was a figurative experiment with their new harmonies. A short while later, the band took off (first in Europe, then America) and now they reunite, 20 years on, for the ultimate In A World Like This album and tour. In an exclusive interview with Dazed, founding member Kevin Richardson, who once worked as a Disney World cast member, tells us about some of the more unique moments through their extensive tenure.
Dazed Digital: Your first performance was at SeaWorld. Could tell me a bit about what that was like?
Kevin Richardson: Yeah, my cousin Brian had just come down from Kentucky to Florida, and we had a gig booked to do Grad Night for Junior High students going from Junior High to High School and we were booked to perform in front of about 2,500 students. We had a nice set worked up of mostly cover tunes from some of our favourite artists, and we had a couple of originals that we performed. But we were unsigned and it was our first performance in front of a really large crowd. It was amazing, the response that we got. We’ve got it on video (above), there’s some archive footage you can probably find of that performance.
Dazed Digital: On the "I'll Never Break Your Heart" video it was kind of that futuristic vibe right?
Kevin Richardson: Yeah we had two versions – we had one where we were on a ski slope. There’s actually two versions of that video. There’s one that we shot really early on when we hadn’t broken in the US yet, and we released the single in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the UK. There was a video of all of us on a ski slope and walking on top of a mountain and like wearing these big puffy like leather jackets and when we released it in the US, we reshot the video wearing like these black outfits and we each had like our own set up and own scene in these different rooms and stuff and that yeah, that was kind of a futuristic looking vibe for that video.
Dazed Digital: How come you re-shot the video?
Kevin Richardson: Because when we released it in the UK and the rest of Europe – basically we broke in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the UK in ’95/96 – we didn’t break in the US until 97. Now, that’s like a two year time change from when we first released the single in the UK and in Europe until we released it in the US, so we had changed a little bit. I mean, when we first shot that video Nick was like 14 and he was 16 when we finally broke in the US, so he had changed quite a bit so we wanted to update the video. Our first album in the US was a combination of our first two albums that we released in the UK and in Europe. Then after that album, Millennium came out and it was the same album, released at the same time all over the world. We finally had every territory caught up with one another so we could just do a simultaneous worldwide release of Millennium.
Dazed Digital: I read somewhere that once a woman threw a bottle of salad dressing on stage and then Nick read the card that was attached to it and it read, "You can toss my salad Nick". Any similar stories?
Kevin Richardson: We were in the Swiss Alps performing and we were on an early promo tour – it was either Switzerland or Austria – and some guys were in the back heckling us and throwing snowballs and one of them hit AJ in the mouth and it had a rock in it and busted his lip, so we look over at AJ and he had all this blood dripping out of his mouth (laughs). That was pretty funny. We had tons of bras and panties thrown on stage and stuffed animals and it’s frustrating sometimes; we’ve slipped and fell because of the bras and the panties and the stuffed animals on stage because back in the day we used to do some crazy dance routines, some pretty crazy stuff. And there was one time Brian was singing, and he had his eyes closed and he heard all this screaming and commotion and thought, "Wow, the crowd are really getting into my performance" and he opened his eyes and there was a girl standing right in front of them and she had got up onstage and was right in his face and she just grabbed him and would not let go. That was an interesting story…
Dazed Digital: …So what happened?
Kevin Richardson: Well, our security came out and got her to let go then escorted her to the side of the stage and dropped her back down into the audience.