Catching up with Aaron Carter

Long before Justin Bieber, One Direction, The Wanted and Mindless Behavior, the mid-’90s and early new millennium brought a wave of memorable pop talent for tweens and teens in the form of Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, Boyz II Men and the one and only: Aaron Carter.

With his frosted gold locks perfectly placed in a bed-head hairstyle, oversized shirts and mom-approved saggy pants, Aaron Carter taught his fans how to beat Shaq during a game of pick-up basketball and about the troubles of throwing a house party. Even though Carter has stepped out of the music spotlight for the last few years, the 25-year-old performer has embarked on a nationwide tour, appropriately named “The After Party tour.”

The Daily Illini recently interviewed Carter about his upcoming Oct. 5 show at The Canopy Club, his tour and his comeback to the stage.

The Daily Illini: We’re excited that you’re coming to campus. Could you talk a little bit about your tour?

Aaron Carter: It’s basically kind of like a researching of all of the tours that I have done in the past, and not a lot of the fans have seen me since I was younger. I make it into a new, more mature, more sophisticated version of the songs that everyone knows. I do “Aaron’s Party.” I do “I Want Candy” and “How I Do Shaq.” I have a live band, and we just make it a lot different.

DI: What inspired you to go on a college tour?

AC: Well, I mean a lot of my fans are in college right now that grew up with me. So, it’s just a good market, and I can really see everybody. And everybody’s been really cool. I’ve been doing a lot of college shows. Honestly, I have the best turn out, and thousands of people show up. It’s just incredible.

DI: How did you prepare for this tour?

AC: I got back with my band that’s toured with me for many years. We spend a lot of time focusing on what’s the best way to translate the songs, and how we can morph them into and make them into something new for myself.

DI: What has been your favorite part of the tour so far? What are you looking forward to?

AC: I guess it’s reconnecting with the fans that I haven’t seen for many, many years and meeting up with everybody. It’s really cool to see that I’ve grown up with everybody, and that’s probably my favorite part. I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time on the road and getting on different stages around the world — just reconnecting with the band.

DI: Will there be any surprises at your show?

AC: (Laughs) Well, if there were any surprises at the show, I wouldn’t tell you because then it wouldn’t be a surprise.

DI: You have been performing since you were 7. How has your style of music progressed over the years?

AC: It’s progressed a lot. I am still an artist, and I can write songs. I can produce beats. I learned how to do things that artists should really know how to do when it comes to being creative in that aspect. A lot of people didn’t believe in me — producers or writers or record companies. It took a long time for me to really get back out on the road. Once I performed over 400 shows with the off-Broadway production “The Fantasticks” in New York City, (and) it really proved and showed people, “Oh, wow! This kid really means business.” I’m a performer, and that’s what I do. A booking agent recognized that, and he said, “Hey, I see what you’re doing with ‘The Fantasticks,’ and I’m really interested in trying to book a tour for you.” He did it, and it’s amazing. It’s been a blessing, and it’s everything that I could ever want.

DI: The music industry is so tough to break into. How have you handled the challenges in your career?

AC: One challenge at a time. I try not to take on too much that I can’t handle, and I try to deal with everything as it comes. It’s a complicated question, and I can give you a complicated answer. The best way for me to handle it is just to stay positive and remember the fans that I have out there and not pay attention to the naysayers.

DI: Are you working on any projects lately aside from the tour? Are you going to debut any new music at the concert?

AC: Yeah, absolutely. The focus right now is the music and tour, so that’s all where my head is at. Yes, there is new music, definitely. They will definitely be performed at the concert – 100 percent.

DI: Do you have a drop date for a new album?

AC: Not yet, but as soon as we get into the studio and start figuring that out, you’ll definitely know.

DI: What has been the most memorable part of your career so far?

AC: I would say that there was this one time where I had a big show, and this girl — she got into a car accident on the way to my show. She had really bad internal bleeding, and they were like, “Oh, give her a call; give her a call.” I said, “No. I want to go to the hospital to see her.” So, I had my crew take me to the hospital, and I went to visit her personally. Miraculously, she stopped bleeding internally after that. Once I realized, you know, “If I could have this kind of effect on people, this is what I’m about. This is what my life is about — to find a way to be healing to people.” Although there might be a lot of people who might not need that, there are a lot of people out there who struggle with self-conscious issues and insecurities. It’s important for artists to recognize those people. That’s what I stand for, and that’s what I’m all about.

DI: How was it growing up in a musical family?

AC: It was amazing. My father played instruments, and he was a musician. My sister, Leslie – she passed away last year – was a very good musician, as well, and a very good artist. Obviously, my brother (Nick Carter) – it was a lot of fun. It was always a good time.

DI: Would you say that family inspired you to become a musician and pursue a music career?

AC: Yeah, I guess so. My mom and my dad inspired me a lot. They were definitely a big, significant aspect of my career. A lot of people don’t even realize this but (when) Nick was 13, he joined the Backstreet Boys, and when he was 14, I became an entertainer. I became a singer a year after my brother joined the Backstreet Boys. Nick and I have been doing it for the same amount of time.

DI: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians and students in general?

AC: Well, just stay focused. Keep going for your dreams and your goals. Never give up because you never know when something’s going to change — when something good is going to happen for you. I mean, look at Macklemore. He tried for 10 years, and no one believed in him. Then, all of a sudden, he saturated himself into the college market, and then, he blew up. He turned the haters into believers — or the people who didn’t even believe into believers.

DI: Would you like to add anything else?

AC: To the people who don’t know what I’m about, you have to come check me out before you have any room to say anything. You have to come see me. Come see what I’m about, and then, let me hear what you thought. There are a lot of people that don’t believe in me, but you know what, that doesn’t stop me.

Carter will perform at Canopy Club in Urbana on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

Amanda can be reached at [email protected]