Don't call it a comeback. Judging from the roar of 50,000 screaming fans at KIIS-FM's Wango Tango concert May 14 in Anaheim, Calif., the Backstreet Boys haven't missed a beat following their lengthy hiatus—during which one (Brian Littrell) started a family, one (A.J. McLean) kicked an alcohol addiction and yet another (Nick Carter) dated Paris Hilton
. Returning to the spotlight with a full schedule of promotional appearances, a midsummer headlining tour and the June 14 release of Never Gone
—the band's first album in four years—the quintet have embraced adulthood without risking their fan base. "With the things we have all gone through, the music has this new outlook," says Carter, 25. "But it does sound like us."
BRIAN LITTRELL, 30, and his wife. LEIGHANNE, 35, stuck around after the band's May 8 appearance on Live with Regis and Kelly
, which was taped during Disneyland's 50th-anniversary celebration, taking the first Backstreet baby. 2½-year-old son Baylee, for a spin on the carousel during his first trip to the park. Brian, who plans to release a Christian solo album in the fall, claims that "being a father has made me very selfless rather than very selfish."
The group prayer circle is a standard part of the band's preshow routine. "Ever since we started, we asked for blessings for a great show," says KEVIN RICHARDSON (far right, with band members). One more preshow ritual: "We all go to the bathroom before we go onstage," says HOWIE DOROUGH. "None of us likes doing the peepee dance up there."
RICHARDSON, 33, grabs a quick backstage smooch from his wife, KRISTIN, 34, an actress who appears in the upcoming war film Jarhead
, which stars Jamie Foxx, before taking the stage at Angel Stadium. According to Kevin, the pair, who have been married for five years, hope to start a family sometime after the tour. "We both know that the day I pop out a baby he'll be back on the road the next day," says Kristin. "We're trying to be a little bit smart about [the timing]. He's going to be such a good dad."
Even SIMON COWELL
can't find anything mean to say about HOWIE DOROUGH'S mother, Paula, when introduced at Live
. In town for Mother's Day, Paula runs the Dorough Lupus Foundation along with her daughter Angie Herring. (Dorough's sister Caroline died from the disease in 1998.) "We're a very close family," reports Dorough, 31. "All my family's still there in Florida. This is the longest period of time I've been away, so I figured if I can't come back home, what better way to have Mothers Day than bring my mother out here?" A few hours later Cowell chatted with the guys, telling them how much he liked their single "Incomplete."