"We're still young guys," said McLean, 33. "We're still in great shape. We always try to keep it youthful but mature. It's a sophisticated youthfulness."

McLean said the Boys admire the Kids.

"When we first started, they immediately compared us to New Kids on the Block," he said. "They've been down the same road we've been down. They pretty much paved the road for us."

McLean has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse in the past and has checked into rehab three times, most recently in January. But he said the band members have been supportive.

"My boys have been very supportive throughout. It makes it easier for me," he said. "It'd be difficult if they were all party animals."

He said the tour bodes well for their future — the Backstreet Boys are about to go into the studio in the fall to record a new album — and his own. He's getting married later this year.

"I've got four and a half months sober," McLean said. "I'm in the best shape I've been in my life. Between rehearsal and eating better, my focal point in life is different. There's life outside Backstreet Boys that is going on and continuing."

erik.maza@baltsun.com

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If you go

The Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block perform Sunday at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $29.50-$93.50. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmaster.com.

A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the member of the New Kids on the Block who came out of the closet. It was Jonathan Knight. The Sun regrets the error.