‘Boy Band’ Architect Nick Carter on Rebelling Against His Backstreet Boys Image

“I was going through it at a young age, kind of having an identity crisis,” singer tells TheWrap

Nick Carter is more self-aware than you think, and the Backstreet Boy’s comfort level in his own skin will become apparent pretty early on in ABC’s “Boy Band” reality competition. On Thursday’s series premiere, for starters, show “Architect” Carter happily choreographs the dance from “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” for a couple of the guys. There’s no way that would have happened a decade ago.

“I was going through it at a young age, kind of having an identity crisis,” Carter told TheWrap of some public struggles that spanned his late teens and 20s. “Now that I’ve gotten older and I see who I am and what I represent and that it makes people happy — that we make great music and it’s melodic — I really embrace it. But there was a time that I really wanted to be anti that.”

He continued: “I think in a lot of ways, that was just me rebelling against everything that the entire world knew me as. And it might have hurt me in a lot of ways, you know, as far as business-wise or opportunity-wise, or whatever the case may be. But when you’re young, you’re not thinking, you’re just going. Especially if you’re in your late teens — that’s what I was.”

It wasn’t just Carter feeling that way, however — even if that’s the way you’ve heard the story. After a while, the entire group was against its image.

“We felt the need to tell people, ‘Hey, we’re singers first. We’re a vocal harmony group first,” Carter recalled. “And then all the other ‘boy band’ stuff and labels you want to add onto us — ‘Don’t come at us with that, don’t talk to us about that.’ We went through that phase.”

That, of course, makes the title of his current gig even more ironic.

But Carter, who bought a house in Las Vegas for his ’90s quintet’s recently extended residency at the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino, isn’t overthinking it. Instead, the light-lyric tenor is using his mind for more profound contemplation, like Carter‘s explanation on why the nostalgia train for BSB and New Kids on the Block, for examples, has never been more all-aboard.

“It’s hard to really put a finger on what it is,” he said. “In my opinion, boy bands have a little something for everybody, if that makes sense. Unlike a solo artist, which is one person, and then a lot of people have to relate to that one person. I think people like the idea of teams, they like the idea of being able to pick their favorites.”

“Maybe this is even a little bit more — even deeper, philosophically — but maybe the way that our world is right now, boy bands are very innocent,” new broadcast TV mentor Carter concluded, speaking to TheWrap from his adopted desert hometown. “Maybe people just want to connect with something that makes them not just feel young, but also makes them happy.”

“Boy Band” premieres Thursday night at 8/7c on ABC.