Have you ever wished your favorite musicians made more music that you could listen to with your kids? Well, you’re in luck. Backstreet Boy Howie D. is releasing Which One Am I?, a children’s album drawing from his own childhood.
We were able to have a chat with Howie before he took off for the Backstreet Boys European tour to learn about the inspiration behind Which One Am I?, and how being a dad is impacting his new music.
The album’s lead single, “No Hablo Español,” focuses on the struggles he faced as a young kid. Howie grew up in mixed race home — his mother is Puerto Rican, and his father is Irish. According to the album’s press release, the song “expresses the dilemma of being a thoroughly American-raised kid who is also part of a minority community.”
Like many children, especially back in the day, he didn’t really speak a lot of Spanish, which was challenging around his peers. Growing up in Orlando, Florida, he was around other Latinx children, many of whom did actually speak Spanish. “I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish, and the first thing I learned was ‘No hablo español,’” he says.
When we spoke, Howie hadn’t yet filmed the video for “No Hablo Español,” but he did tell us that there would be some very special guests in the video. Now that the video has finished filming, we know who the special guests are. His son, James, plays a younger version of Howie, while Howie’s mom Paula makes an appearance as “abuelita,” a role she’s clearly familiar with.
Even though he didn’t say that James would essentially be the star of the video, it comes as no surprise. During our talk, Howie mentioned that James seems to be following in his dad’s footsteps. In addition to taking music and singing lessons with Howie’s sister, he also has his own YouTube channel, where he likes to share his performances. “He’s a little ham,” he jokes.
Since Howie is on the road so much (The Backstreet Boys are currently on a tour in Europe before touring the U.S. this summer), having his son in the video is another way for Howie D. and his son to connect. And it’s clear that being a dad is his number one job. Though he credits his wife with holding things together, especially when he’s on tour, when he’s home, he’s all in. “I’m the bus driver, and helping them with their homework. When I am off, I come back home and wear a different hat.”
He always shares his work with his sons (he also has a younger son, Holden), but now he’s using them as his creative sounding boards too. “I’d have to learn the songs, so I’d play them in the car, and they’re like little sponges,” he says of the songwriting process. “They’d play the song like once or twice and they got the song already”
Making Which One Am I? parent-friendly was important to Howie D. as well. He knows the struggle we parents go through. When your kids really love a song or movie, you’re going to be hearing it a million times.
“I wanted to make something that kids and parents could get into,” he explains. So, even though the album is clearly made for kids, parents will enjoy listening to it too!
Having the songs appeal to parents is actually a two-fold concept. As we pointed out, many of the folks who were fans of the Backstreet Boys as tweens and teens are now parents. Being able to share an artist they’ve grown up with listening to with their kids makes for an even more unique experience.
Sadly, we still have to wait until July for Which One Am I? to be available. But Howie D. told us that themes of some of the other songs include living in the shadow of your older sibling (“Pollyanna’s Shadow”), wondering if you’re ever going to be tall (“Small Time Blues”), and confronting the anxiety of childhood fears (“Monsters in My Head”).
We’re literally counting down the days to release date, but in the meanwhile, you can pre-order Which One Am I? from iTunes, Amazon and other digital retailers.