There’s an episode of American Dad where Steve joins a boy band, Boyz 12. It spoofs everything ridiculous about the Backstreet Boys of the world: the outfits, the personalities over musical ability, the songs with titles like “Girl You Need A Shot (Of B12 (Boyz 12)).” It was the best representation of what being in a boy band must have been like until Kevin Yee’s Reddit AMA earlier today. Yee was a member of Youth Asylum, a minorly popular 1990s group with a preposterous name.
I am Kevin Yee, 1/6th of the now defunct band Youth Asylum. We were signed to Qwest/Warner Brother’s records from 1998-2000. Our unreleased album featured Quincy Jones and David Foster as producers. Our single “Jasmin” was mildly successful in some markets (Miami, Boston) and the music video was top five on the Disney Channel and the Box. We toured the states three times in mall and middle school tours. We were eventually dropped from our label and our album was never released. (Via)
In case you still long to be the next Joey Fat-One, don’t.
how much money did you personally make from being in this band?
About $4000 over three years. I came out in debt.
What are boy band/groupie interactions like? Is it at all like the decadent backstage legends of 80s hair metal? Or are boy band fans all too young to hang out backstage?
Haha! 80’s HAIR METAL!!! We had a lot of really die hard groupies that would travel far to see us (did their parents drive them? I’m not sure…) and bring us random presents, make us signs, make us take millions of pictures and sign millions of things. I do think their parents enabled their behavior. Most were very respectful but screamed a lot. They were SO loud. Never underestimate the vocal chords of a teenaged girl. I did witness some of my cohorts take advantage of the situation, but personally I never did. I also think “the people taking care of us” were letting the fans get close to us, bringing them backstage and such, enabling the situation. I think they figured the happier the fans, the more money will come in. It does seem a little strange in retrospect…
Because of the circumstances that your group came together – everyone auditioning separately, you didn’t know each other – did you and the other band members get along well? Did you interact at all outside of work, so to speak? And do you still keep in touch with any of them?
We didn’t really fight but I wouldn’t say we really got along as a group. I think some of us were forced to become friends since we were living in such close quarters and there was no one else around. Very few of us were from Los Angeles (where we were based) so they rented us a two bedroom apartment where six of us and a chaperone lived. So we had to get very uncomfortably close very fast. There wasn’t really any “outside of work” since we were all in our teens and couldn’t really go anywhere unescorted. Basically, we spent three years in that apartment unless we were touring or recording. None of us have kept in touch except through Facebook… and even then I have most of them hidden from my feed ;P
What went wrong?
A lot! We weren’t great live because we had never worked together before we were signed… but there are a lot of boy bands who lip-sync or aren’t good live so… There were some shady music business dealings behind the scenes. Ultimately what ended us was a change at the record label. Our label was an offshoot of a larger label and they decided to shut it down. They gave our management the option to keep us, but our managers thought we could shop the album to another label. We were all sent home after a very unfair settlement and told that we’d hear from our managers when they found us a new label. It’s been 14 years and I’m still waiting for that call…
How much control did y’all have over your personas, clothes, lyrics, etc?
Absolutely none. We were told how to talk, dress, act. I was pretty geeky when I started, but they bleached my hair, pierced my ears, and tanned me. Most of our clothes were forced on us by whatever designer was sponsoring us. Music wise we were never encouraged to write our own music since our manager did and made all of his money that way. We were also coached what to say on certain subjects if we were coming off too “(not sexy enough…etc)”.
I know that there’s always one guy in the group that all the girls love above the others (I’d say Justin Timberlake in N’Sync for example), which one was that in your group?
Definitely Flashlight. He actually looked a little like Justin Timberlake and was the “rapper” of the group. The girls LOVED him!
Flashlight! Boy bands are the best (worst).