Brian Littrell still wants Backstreet Boys to win The Last Thing

Often, reporters research the people they interview, not the other way around. However, most of the subjects were not Backstreet Boys' Brian Littrell. "I have a question before we get started — are you a big Taylor Swift fan?" he asked on a recent Tuesday when we called. (The correct answer is "very big," and Littrell listed some of the beats I've covered before.) "I got you," he quipped.

This thoughtfulness and thoughtfulness is one of the reasons the band still resonates 30 years after their debut. To mark the occasion, the band will host a weekend-long celebration in Mexico, with two special BSB shows at Cancun's Luna Palace in April 2024, one of which will include a set list decided entirely by fans, Live Nation is giving away a copy of two fans' journeys to realize their teenage BSB dreams.

Littrell said this experience is something the band has wanted to offer "for the past 20 years," and they've spent the past three years putting it all together. BSB brought some of their favorite artists on board like Jason DeRulo. Each member also plans their own unique activities, including Littrell, who brings his family along for a variety show. His son Baylee will be 21 next April, which is testament to how long the band has been on our playlists. "I'll have to keep an eye on him," he joked.

Below, Littrell tells the story of celebrating 30 years with the Backstreet Boys, from his audition for the band to performing with Elton John, and the one goal that still sticks in his mind today.

Brian Littrell, 1997. JMEnternational /Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Do you remember the band audition?

My cousin Kevin called me and said, "Hey Brian, I want you to come down and audition for this band and we'll see how it goes." He picked me up from Orlando International Airport in a limo and took me I went to the house of Mr. Lou Pillman, who was financing the band at the time and bringing everyone together. I sang some songs. Lou looked at me and he said, "You're in." This literally happened overnight because I was taking Mrs. Rick Wolfe's American history class the night before.

Thirty years later, is there a song that you over performed live?

I once said "Stop Playing Games (With My Heart)" because I didn't really like that song at first. But I changed my attitude. When we sing this song on tour, I see people's smiling faces and the person singing it reminds them of their youth. It reminded them of the first time they saw and experienced the Backstreet Boys, whether it was on VH1 or MTV's music shows at the time.

Now, what song do you think you will never get tired of performing live?

"As long as you love me." I met my wife while filming a video in California, and gosh, we've been together 26 years since 1997, so I'm very, very lucky. It’s a great day and a great song… If I didn’t say that, I’d be in a lot of trouble.

Is there a Backstreet Boys album that you're most proud of?

millennium . They call it the sophomore slump, where your second record never compares to the impact your first record had on the music industry. There are a lot of artists that come out and break out and then try to redo what they did and for some reason it doesn't work. When Millennium came out, things were unique.

I wrote and produced "The Perfect Fan" as a tribute to my mom. I also co-wrote "I'll Be The One" and "Larger Than Life," so there's a lot of sentimental value to that record. When fans look at the Backstreet Boys, they don't really look at us as writers and producers. They see us more as performers. This record was very special because I had the opportunity to write with some of the best writers in the world and write some of the best songs out there.

You'll let fans vote for the 30 best moments in Backstreet Boys history. Do you have a peak moment?

When we closed Times Square in New York and launched Millennium . I'll never forget being at MTV, looking out the window and seeing thousands of fans lining the streets. It's a scary thing at the same time, but it's exciting that you can touch so many people with your music. Another one will be singing "I Want It That Way" with us on stage as our special guest, along with Elton John. As a fan of his growing up, it was a landmark moment for me to be like, "Wow, we're really making an impact on music here."

What are your hopes for the next 30 years of the Backstreet Boys?

We are very lucky to be able to do something that we absolutely love. I will enjoy this journey for the next 30 years. If it was half the size of the last 30, I'd be ok with it. One of my goals has always been to make a Christmas album, and we were able to do that [recently] for the first time. In the back of my mind, there's always that elusive Grammy because we've been nominated eight times and we never walked away with that hardware. So I'm going to throw it out there and hope that one day the Backstreet Boys can accept a Grammy.

Since you started doing this, I have to ask: are you a Swiftie?

I used to love her original songs. My son is 20 and loves country music, so we listened to a lot of Taylor when she was a little country girl. I'm proud of her success. She is on top of the earth and she deserves it because she works so hard.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.