AJ, or Alexander James McLean (9. January 1978) the voice that captured the hearts of millions around the world as a member of the group the Backstreet Boys. On January 20, 2010, his first debut album Have It All, was released in Japan. It was released in the U.S. on March 20, 2010.
For the last 12 months, AJ has been in the studio writing with One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, *NSYNC’s JC Chasez, as well as industry legends, Mark Hudson and Kristin Lundin to create his debut. The album, which he sees as ‘pushing the envelope’, is a departure stylistically and musically from his Backstreet Boys material, and has seen him rediscover an inner sense of himself.
A personal record, the record draws inspiration from his own experiences, including exorcising the alcohol addiction he once suffered.
Says AJ of his new material ‘This record for me has allowed me to rediscover a sense of who I really am. I’ve been writing with some amazing people like Ryan Tedder and Mark Hudson; to be able to finally create this body of work, I really do think I’m going to surprise people with the direction of this album.’
Talking further about the sounds of the album – ‘We recorded partly in Nashville so we’ve got this whole Southern Rock vibe going, as well as in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The record really allows me to unwrap another side to me’.
On first hear of the material, you get a sense that AJ really is, in his words, ‘a sponge in terms of musical influence’. You can sense some early Lenny Kravitz, a bit of Jamiroquai, dripping into Daft Punk and rounded off with some Lynyrd Skynyrd. If you had to use one verb to describe this record, it would be funky.
Having had massive success with the world’s biggest boy band, AJ is no stranger to global chart success. However, he understands that with this record, it is more about discovery as opposed to ‘ticking the boxes to fit in with what gets played on radio’. The album, currently without name, but AJ admits ‘he has a few ideas’, is his vision, and won’t be compromised.
Having already teased fans on the Backstreet Boys World tour, as each of the boys performed one solo track, the record will be released toward the end 2008. The intimate European tour will allow AJ to reconnect with new and all fans, on a level not experienced since his early tenure with the Backstreet Boys. AJ’s tour kicks off in London on May 15th, taking in multiple dates in Germany (Frankfurt, Hamburg, Koln), Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, finishing in Paris on the 3rd of June.
Substance abuse issues
Rising to fame in his early teens, McLean became known as the "bad boy" of the musical group known as the Backstreet Boys. In 2001, the other band members reportedly became distressed by A.J.'s self-destructive behavior. Following an intervention, McLean entered rehab for alcoholism and cocaine abuse. His mother, Denise McLean, later authored the book Backstreet Mom, describing A.J.'s life before, during, and after rehab.
In December 2003, McLean and his mother appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about his recovery from clinical depression, alcoholism, and drug use. Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, and Nick Carter surprised McLean by appearing on the show to talk about their experiences with his addictions and to offer their support for his rehabilitation. This was the first time all five Backstreet Boys had appeared together in public in almost two years.
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