Stay The Same is Joey McIntyre's debut album, and though his name might not be as instantly recognizable to some as, say, his former bandmate Donnie Wahlberg, he's still a venerable show-biz veteran with years of success under his belt. While other teenagers were jamming in garages or playing on the softball team, Joey was touring the world, singing and dancing with a little group out of Boston known as the New Kids On The Block. But since dropping the curtain on the New Kids, Joey has reinvented himself as a genuine musician, with a passion and talent that virtually guarantees his breakout solo success.
Since the New Kids struck their set in 1994, Joey's been honing his talents, working on his singing, his performing, and most of all, his writing. What results is an album of self-penned songs full of insight, emotion and a maturity that stretches far beyond McIntyre's twenty-six years. "Stay The Same," the gospel-tinged, urban-leaning title track and first single, is a powerful ballad about learning to love yourself, to believe in your potential and strength. "I Cried," incredibly one of the first songs Joey ever wrote, taps into the release of letting a loved one go, and seamlessly weaves the Boston Symphony Orchestra into Joey's soulful tune. "The Way That I Love You" harks back to the big love songs of the Eighties, while the stark and bluesy "Without Your Love," in six-and-a-half minutes, reaches a frank sentimentality rarely expressed by such young artists.
"You can never stop exploring and going places with your music and yourself, and there are still places in me that I hold back," explains Joey of the path that took him to where he is today. "These songs are just the beginning of my thoughts of growing up, of being a teenager and seeing my feelings through. This is all my angst up to this point."
The angst of which he speaks not only refers to the frustration of growing up in the public eye, but to the confusion of not knowing exactly what he wanted. Back in 1994, after parting amicably with his group, Joey tried his hand at acting, taking some classes and even landing a movie role, but never quite found himself satisfied with his accomplishments. Music kept beckoning him back, and while Joey was mapping his future, he was also exploring his past. "There are a couple of generations in my family. I'm the youngest of nine children, and my father - being from that era - raised us singing Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra tunes. So it was natural that I started arranging some big band songs, and writing some in that kind of vein," says the old soul. "Then a friend suggested that I try writing some pop stuff. And that first song just got my juices flowing. I told myself, you can't do something until you try it, so I figured, what the hell - I'm gonna do this." That first song, "We Can Get Down," co-written with former New Kids leading man Donnie Wahlberg, put the wheels in motion faster than record company executives could keep up with it. Almost immediately hooking up with New Kids producer Phil Green, and soon thereafter, producer/co-writer Joe Carrier, Joey wrote and recorded the first ten songs that would become the core of Stay The Same faster than most seasoned songwriters twice his age. Using modern technology and a little bit of elbow grease, Joey put together his album and released it to his loyal fans via the Internet.
"I had already been working on my website, and the fans were getting in contact and I was telling them my story," Joey says of the impetus to deliver his music to the masses. "And I thought, wait a minute. I'm sitting back and not doing anything. So I decided, 'OK, I'm going to release the album on the website myself, get some live dates and get proactive with this.' And as a bonus, I played what I thought should be the single for Boston's KISS 108 FM."
What ensued was a virtual feeding frenzy. DJ's were calling up record companies, insisting the single would be a smash hit. Fans were calling in requests by the dozens, and right off the bat, "Stay The Same" was the # 1 most requested song every night on KISS-FM. Joey's first four solo dates ever sold out instantly. For a debut artist without a recording contract -- even one who had already sold 30 million records in his former incarnation -- it was a whirlwind of excitement.
Stay The Same, an album that excavates the heart and opens the mind, was snapped up by Columbia Records as soon as they got wind of the mayhem ensuing in Boston over the youngest of the New Kids. "Some of the songs speak of an independent kind of love, and others are needy ballads. I mean, I'm inspired by all kinds of things. I like to dance, I like to get down, I like to sing more traditional ballads," McIntyre explains of the varying sentiments and styles stretching throughout his debut album. "So this album has a little bit of everything, a versatility that can appeal to older and younger people. And at times, I'm very literal, so it can be very personal, but I believe that everybody has every personality inside of them. Everyone can relate."
The title track, which illuminates the importance of believing in yourself as the first step in achieving your goals, relates what the young singer is going through these days in simple language. "The more you just concentrate and focus on what you want to do and believe in yourself, the more you know it's gonna happen for you," Joey explains of his life and his song. "It's all a real crap shoot. I mean, six months ago, I couldn't get arrested, but the human spirit is very powerful. You just gotta hang in there and let the good things start happening."
On-stage and in the studio, good things are certainly happening for Joey McIntyre.