Wanted: Backstreet Men For Older-Is-Better Pop Group

By | April 4, 2001 at 12:00 AM

A London publicity firm is forming the world’s first “man band,” a pop group consisting of five musically talented men over the age of 50.

“If you look at Tom Jones, Elton John and Mick Jagger, these guys are getting better as they get older,” said Kizzi Nkwocha, an executive at 15 Minutes, the company launching the project. “We’re not sure why no one has thought of this before. Instead you have all of these young musical butterflies. They look beautiful for a few days and then they die.”

“If you look at Tom Jones, Elton John and Mick Jagger, these guys are getting better as they get older.” – publicist Kizzi Nkwocha Ý

Nkwocha’s “man band” – a variation of the “boy band” label often bestowed upon the likes of ‘NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys – is coming together in a manufactured fashion similar to the Spice Girls and New Kids on the Block.

15 Minutes quietly placed want ads in several British music and acting magazines less than two weeks ago, and 2,417 men have applied as of today (April 3), Nkwocha said. The company is screening demo tapes and reading bios to narrow the field down to 20 finalists.

Once the group’s members are chosen, a team of veteran singer/songwriters will put the “man band” to work on new music. Nkwocha will be in charge of creating their image.

“It will be a pop band, which is a huge departure from what most musicians over 50 are doing,” Nkwocha said. “There certainly will be choreography. They won’t be doing Boyzone moves, but they will perform as a group.”

The “man band” is expected to be formed within two weeks and the chosen ones will immediately enter the studio to record their first single, which could be out by mid-May.

“Fortunately we have a good relationship with a lot of record labels,” said Nkwocha, whose clients include the still rolling ’60s Scottish pop group the Bay City Rollers and several soap opera stars. “We have labels interested, but we want them to hear the single first. We want to sell the band on their talent and not because they had people opening doors for them.”

Several British TV studios have contacted 15 Minutes about doing a documentary series on the group ý la “Popstars” or “Making the Band,” but Nkwocha said they are being cautious about how they handle the group.

“Most of the men we are looking at have families,” he said. “We don’t want to put them in a situation where they have to go into hiding because so many people are trying to meet them.”

Nkwocha and his coworkers came up with the “man band” concept during a weekly brainstorming session that had turned to “why boy bands suck.” The participants decided older men with real talent were being unfairly overlooked.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook with reporters from America to Japan,” Nkwocha said. “We’re already becoming a global phenomenon.”

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