The kid brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, Aaron was 12 years old and catering to the pre-teen crowd when he scored his hit songs “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It),” “I Want Candy” and “That’s How I Beat Shaq.” He sold millions of records.
Now 25, Carter is in the midst of a concert tour, his first in eight years, that will bring him to Canton’s The Auricle on Thursday.
Since his first burst of pubescent stardom, Carter has experienced both highs (placing fifth on “Dancing With the Stars,” starring off-Broadway in “The Fantasticks”) and lows (rehab, reality-TV show, dating Lindsay Lohan).
For me, the idea of Carter, now 25, singing “Aaron’s Party” and his other boyhood hits in concert sounded just a bit desperate. But then he phoned me, seemed like an upbeat and self-aware guy and gamely answered everything he was asked.
“Aaron’s extremely nice and down-to-earth. He has great social skills,” said Tim Eddings, whose Celebrity Concerts booked Carter for recent shows in Akron and Columbus. “Both (concerts) were very well-attended, mostly women ages 16 to 30, and they definitely all wanted to meet him. It was as much a party as it was a concert.”
Here are excerpts from my conversation with Carter.
Q. You haven’t toured in awhile. Was it a challenge to put the show together?
A. “People haven’t seen me in a long time, so they probably don’t know what to expect. Initially, I wanted to do an acoustic show with bass, guitar and piano, but it’s hard to jump around and party to acoustic music. So my goal is to create nostalgia for the fans, to let them feel like they’re tapping into their past. It’s like when I go to the store and see Fruit Roll-ups — it makes me happy because I remember when my mom would give me those in the summertime.”
Q. Can you describe the show?
A. “I’m giving them everything they want. The show starts off as a high-energy dance show. I hired Trey and Nico from ‘America’s Best Dance Crew,’ so it’s them, my deejay and me. The show starts with ‘I Want Candy.’ I get right in their faces. I don’t really give them too much time to think. It’s just right there. I wanted to bring all the elements from the big shows I used to do into the smaller places. I bring girls onstage and sing to them, there’s an acoustic medley, costume changes, it’s a lot of fun.”
Q. The crowd is mostly female, I’m guessing?
Page 2 of 3 - A. “Probably 70 percent, but we love the guys showing up, too. The demographic goes from 5 years old to like 50. I think when I did ‘Dancing With the Stars’ it opened up a different fan base. It’s a family show, it’s not the Miller High Life tour. All ages are welcome.”
Q. I bet it feels good to be back on the road again with fans cheering you on.
A. “Just when you feel like your lowest and nothing’s going to happen again, all of a sudden a light comes into your life. For me, it was a booking agent named Alex Ross, who booked me for 18 shows at first, then 40, then 75, then more. It’s all been falling into place nicely.”
Q. You’ve done some other type things since your last tour, “Dancing With the Stars” and (the off-Broadway musical) “The Fantasticks.”
A. “I did ‘The Fantasticks’ for a year and a half, and I learned so much from ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ One prepared me for singing, one for dancing.”
Q. You’re only 25 but you’ve had a long career already.
A. “It’s been crazy my whole life. There’s nothing else I can do but music.”
Q. What was your best gig ever?
A. “Rock Over Rio in Brazil. There were a million people there and I was so shocked. I was 12 or 13.”
Q. What was your worst gig ever?
A. To be honest, there’s been tons of bad gigs and bad promoters. But what I do and what my crew does is we try to lift spirits and energy around us and do the best we can.”
Q. Is a lot of your early career a blur now?
A. “We were doing so much stuff at the same time, there aren’t a lot of single memories that stick out.”
Q. Didn’t you meet Michael Jackson at some point?
A. After Sept. 11, Michael invited me and my brother to do a charity song with him called ‘What More Can I Give.’ I felt blessed to be with the handful of other artists he picked, like Beyonce, Usher, Celine Dion and Luther Vandross. Michael told me he’d been watching me my whole career.”
Q. I want to ask you about Justin Bieber, who seems to be drifting into some trouble lately. Can you relate to his situation?
A. “Absolutely I do. People ask me about that kid all the time. Thankfully, I found a way to make it out and actually survive that life. Fortunately for me, my parents divorced, I left the industry for a bit, and I became a kid for awhile. I got into some trouble, made some mistakes, but the majority of things I went through weren’t under media scrutiny. I stopped performing when I was 18 and I developed an appreciation for my career again. It had gotten to the point where I dreaded it, it was monotonous, every day, no fun, no change.”
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Q. You think that’s where Bieber is at?
A. “I think that’s what might be going on. He needs a chance to step out and step back and develop his identity as a person.”