“You know what, there is one that I’m probably going to get in trouble for,” AJ McClean said before delving into what is perhaps the most bizarre factoid from the entire oral history of the legendary boy band, the Backstreet Boys. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their formation, the group opened up about the making of the music which quickly became the most ubiquitous sounds of the 1990s. But AJ’s strange tale forever changed the way we think about at least one song in the band’s repertoire.
The short version is this: that bass sound you hear in “The Call,” the first track of the band’s Black and Blue album, is actually a fart.
The longer version is better told by AJ himself: “So when we were in the studio with Max [Martin] making the song ‘The Call,’ Howie [Dorough] was in the booth and we were doing that vocal break down, [singsdun dun dun, dun dun dun dun.′ Max gave Howie his harmony, and I think he was just putting so much air into the vocal that as he was singing, he went ’dun, dun’ and he farted—but he farted not only on the beat, but in key. So Max tweaked it and made it sound like one of his patented bass sounds, and it stayed on the record.”] ′
“Howie’s fart became an instrument and is on the record for the rest of our lives,” McClean adds. ”[Max] could turn a fart into a bass sound, that’s pretty damn genius if you ask me.”
The other boys were less enthusiastic about sharing more information about that particular memory: “I plead the fifth to say anything,” Howie said. “I’m sure there were a lot of beverages consumed back in the day. It’s one of those kind of things... Everybody at that age—especially Nick [Carter]—was constantly passing gas, just being young 20-year-old guys doing guy locker room kind of stuff. And coincidentally, I got in the booth, was breathing in really heavily singing my part, and I guess some extra air kind of came out. It made everybody laugh, and Max decided to take that and sample it to turn it into the ‘dun dun dun, dun dun dun dun.’”
“If it was me, the guys can definitely thank me for that,” Dorough laughs, “and thank what was consumed the night before singing those songs.”