Onetime New Kid Reintroduces Himself

Meet Joe Mac might seem like an odd title for the second outing from Joey McIntyre. After all, this is someone we know pretty well. McIntyre was one of the New Kids on the Block, the '80s equivalent of Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync. But after the vocal group dissolved, he laid low and even contemplated careers in acting and non-pop music before returning to the scene with Stay the Same in 1999. Meet Joe Mac, he says, is a step forward from there.

"I wrote every song on the last record," McIntyre, 28, says, "but that was baby steps for me. This album is much more solid … a little more out on a limb. This album goes from rock to soul to ballads. It was just fun, good, free music. It didn't close me in."

The first single, "Rain," is a heartstring-tugger inspired by the breakup of a long-term relationship. But album's most unlikely moment comes during the spirited "National Anthem of Love," which hooks McIntyre up with an unlikely duet partner — Fred Schneider of the B-52's.

"When we were doing that song, me and Scot [Sax] kept going, 'Love, baby, that's where it's at," says McIntyre, nodding toward the B-52's hit "Love Shack." "When we eventually produced it, we brought in Sterling Campbell on drums, who sits in with the B-52's; hence, that was the connection. I sent [Schneider] an e-mail. Then he listened to the song, and he was into it. He came in, and it was just a trip to have him there. I guess I had this picture of him as this fun-loving, crazy guy, and he takes this stuff seriously; he practiced some stuff and went in there and did his thing. It was pretty cool. I was humbled by him being there."

McIntyre is, of course, anxious to promote Meet Joe Mac, but he also promises that the live performances with his six-piece band won't forsake his past; each show will feature a medley of the New Kids hits "Cover Girl," "Hangin' Tough," and "The Right Stuff."

"It's killer to revisit those songs in a different way," he says. "We've slowed down 'Cover Girl' to this smoky kind of '60s vibe, then 'Hangin' Tough' goes into Joan Jett's 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' and then back into 'Hangin' Tough' and on to 'The Right Stuff.' That's what the fans like and want to hear, and I don't mind playing those songs for them — especially if it'll help to get them to listen to my new stuff, too."