Howie Dorough says Backstreet Boys have matured

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Backstreet Boys began as a group of wide-eyed teenagers but 16 years later, after battles with drug addiction and the loss of loved ones, believe their seventh album shows they have matured.

The Backstreet Boys, the first U.S. group launched by boy band mogul Lou Pearlman, started as a five-member band with a list of chart hits but is now a quartet.

The band took a break from 2002 but returned two years later, with a fifth album released in 2005, "Never Gone," then a sixth, "Unbreakable," in 2007 after singer Kevin Richardson left in 2006 which did not sell as well.

Howie Dorough, 36, said the band has high hopes for its new album "This Is Us" which will be backed up with a world tour starting at the end of October. Also in the band are A.J. McLean, who went into rehab in 2001 for alcohol and drug addiction, Nick Carter, and Brian Littrell.

Dorough spoke to Reuters about the band and new album:

Q: So it's not a comeback?

A: "That's right, we say don't call it a comeback. But I think this is going to be a record that people hear. Our last two were great but came after we took a break and there was a bit of a backlash. People needed a bit of a break from the Backstreet Boys. The last two records were a good rebuilding process and taken us to this point."

Q: It's been 17 years since you started out together. Have you all changed?

A: "No, time has not changed us but it has made us grow. We have grown into the adults we are now -- the fathers, the friends, the entertainers that we are now and the career minded people that we are. There have been bumps but everything has happened for a reason -- maybe apart from the loss of some loved ones -- and we have always tried to find a positive from it."

Q: Have these experiences over the years changed your music?

A: "It has affected our music. We have a lot more to write about now with the personal experiences that have happened along the way. We have also become more seasoned as entertainers. It has opened our eyes and our minds. We're no longer just entertainers but also businessmen and we are finding a healthy balance of career and families."

Q: You began as boys but have become men. Any plans to change the band's name?

A: "Boys to us has never been an age thing. If the Beastie Boys and the Beach Boys and Pet Shop Boys can stay boys, so can we."

Q: You all have other projects on the side of the band with solo records and you also co-manager other singers. Does that cause any conflict?

A: "For me I am into having my hands in a bunch of different things. I am a Leo and I love to be active and creative. We all came from individual backgrounds and we don't want to lose our identities so we allow ourselves to do other projects on the side. We all try to make sure the Backstreet Boys takes the main role."

Q: Your sister Caroline Dorough-Cochran died in 1998 of Lupus aged 37 and you set up a foundation to raise money for this.

A: "We all have always believed in giving things to the man above. I try to give back. We are so blessed as artists and entertainers and we should use our powers to raise awareness of things where we can."

(Editing by Jill Serjeant)

Boyzone star Stephen Gately dies

Boyzone singer Stephen Gately has died suddenly at the age of 33 while on holiday in Majorca.

Spanish police said he died on Saturday and that there were no signs of suspicious circumstances. But the cause of death is not yet known.

Gately was on holiday with his long-term partner Andy Cowles. His bandmates said they were "completely devastated" and are now travelling to Majorca.

The Irish band had six UK number one hits in the 1990s and reformed in 2007.

The four remaining members of Boyzone described Gately as "our friend and brother".

"We have shared such wonderful times together over the years and were all looking forward to sharing many more," a statement said.

"Stephen was a beautiful person in both body and spirit. He lit up our lives and those of the many friends he had all over the world. Our love and sympathy go out to Andrew and Stephen's family. We love you and will miss you forever."

Singer Ronan Keating is on his way back from the US and will join the rest of the group in Majorca.

Police said they were called to a house near Port d'Andratx on the western tip of the island on Saturday afternoon.

"At the moment it is not known how he died," the police spokesman said. "There are no signs of suspicious circumstances."

Boyzone manager Louis Walsh, who is still expected to appear as a judge on The X Factor results show on Sunday, told the News of the World newspaper: "We're all absolutely devastated.

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