You may be too young to remember, but there was once a time when the internet was too big to fit in your phone, phones were too big to fit in your pockets, and pockets were too ugly to sew into your parachute pants. This time was called the 1990s and, for good or ill, the Boy Band was its cultural flag-bearer.
Say what you will about *NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys, and 98 Degrees. Their tradition of pretty-boy dance-pop harmony is largely responsible for the meteoric success of modern boy groups like One Direction, The Jonas Bros, and King Biebs, himself. But now a new contender named Midnight Red is entering the boy band battle royale arena, and even with no album out they already boast a co-headlining tour credit with New Kids On The Block and the Backstreet Boys.
Like their boygroup forebears, Midnight Red is five young dudes with origins all over America who like to dance and harmonize and stuff. But Colton Rudloff, Midnight Red's senior member at the ripe old age of 23, tells it better.
"First we have Anthony (19), who has that cool Seattle dancer vibe," Colton told us over the phone from his publicist's CA home during a recent press blitz for the band's debut single. "There's Thomas (21), and he's more theatrical, more out there. Eric (20), he's a sweetheart but he's a goofball to the fullest. And then we've got Joey (22), who's very business-minded and can be very serious, but also very bro-like. And I'm the all-American, Apple Pie kid."
Midnight Red's first single, "Hell Yeah," debuted last week (and you can watch it below). In honor of the launch we talked to Colton about singing "hell yeah" to the world, bro-ing out with Backstreet, and training his micro pig to poo outdoors.
Hey, Colton! You've been doing a buttload of interviews today. What's the weirdest question you've answered so far?
Oh, man. We got a fan question asking, if we were each a flavor of ice cream, what would your flavor be? I think I said like, "Jolly Ranchers," I don't know—something sweet, but different.
Which of your bandmates has the best music taste?
Oh man, well that's certainly not me [laughs]. I'd say that Eric's taste is the best. He's always playing something new every time I go over to his place, and he's got a very broad range of artists. Personally, I'm really waiting for the new Maroon 5 album to come out. This album was totally produced by Max Martin and like 15 other producers, so it's just gonna be this crazy, crazy pop album!
Did you get any backlash for putting "hell" in a song title?
There are some places that feel leery about posting the song on younger sites because it does say hell. But once the notoriety comes around and people hear the music, it'll kind of diffuse itself. Because—first of all—how many little 5-year-olds have you heard singing a song who have any idea what they're really singing? They don't know or care what hell yeah means. Second, I'm 23, and our youngest is 19, so we've been allowed to say the world hell for a while. I do understand where the hesitation comes from. But we're in our 20s. We're not too worried about saying hell.
Plus, you use "hell yeah" in such a celebratory sense. It's not like you're damning or ridiculing anyone.
Oh yeah, I mean, it's such a common thing! Your friend will be like, "wanna go to a movie?" and you're like, "Hell yeah, I wanna go to a movie!" You know, it doesn't hurt people. Not like, "go to Hell!" That's not what we're trying to promote. That'd be a very different song [laughs].
Did you learn a lot from touring with the Backstreet Boys last summer?
Yeah! At our first sound check of the tour—basically our first sound check ever—the Backstreet Boys were there hanging out with their fans, signing autographs. They had never heard us before. So it's our first sound check ever and it's gonna be in front of one of the biggest boy bands of all time. It's nerve-wracking. But Brian Littrell was watching, and after the show he came backstage and introduced himself, and he told us to stay together, to be one, to always have each other's backs because everyone in the business is gonna be pulling the strings and trying to rip us apart in some way. He didn't have to do that. But he wished us luck, and that really calmed us down. From then on we were cool with Brian Littrell the whole time.
Rad, so did you get to hang out with the Boys offstage?
Yeah, actually, when we were in Indiana we went to this arcade bowling place where they had a party for anyone on the crew, so New Kids were there, Backstreet was there, we were there, and it was so cool to get to hang out and see them! Actually, I played pool with AJ, and he kept telling me what an amazing player he is—and he really is, but I did beat him. He got the eight ball in too early.
When you were growing up did you have rockstar daydreams of yourself singing in arenas, shooting fire and lightning out of your hands and stuff?
Oh, yeah. I remember when I was younger I went to an *NSYNC stadium tour, and it was the most extravagant thing I'd ever seen! There was 80,000 people, just filled to the brim, and they were on these mechanical bulls, and had all these high-wires set up. It was a spectacle—something to look forward to.
What's your geekiest habit?
I really love dogs. If a dog is walking past me or whatever, I am not afraid to be like, "Hey, random person I don't know! I'm gonna pet your dog." And I do that all the time. The guys in the band will be like, "Colton, do not stop this person." But sometimes I can't help myself.
What kind of dogs do you have at home?
I have a golden retriever, a black lab/Rottweiler mix, and an Australian shepherd. But get this—I also have this little miniature pig. She's like a small, small dog and she owns the world. She's very smart, but pigs are kind of like cats, like how you'll tell a cat, "Come here, cat!" and the cat'll be like, "No, no thanks." So pigs are smart like dogs, but very independent.
That's awesome. Does your pig get along with the dogs?
Oh, yeah, yeah. She's just as big as them in her eyes. A lot of people think pigs are dirty animals, but they're actually cleaner than dogs. The only reason there's that stereotype about pigs is because their skin is really sensitive, so they have to be muddy to keep the sun from damaging their skin.
Dang. Sorry to derail this interview. Only one more question about pigs, I swear: Can you teach them tricks?
Oh yeah, my sister is like an animal whisperer. She's great at training animals and can train any dog, or pig. She just gives them a little treat and tells them what she wants them to do. She house-trained the pig. When the piggy wants to go out she just rings a bell. She learned that by watching my dog. The pig's really smart. As long as there's food in the way.