Brian's One-on-One Interview with John Norris
This interview took place on February 15, 2000 at the MTV studios in New York and was aired on MTV's "Ultrasound Backstreet: The One-on-One's" on May 4, 2000.
John Norris: I want to ask you about the "Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely" video, because I think a lot of people are actually surprised that you are able to bring something like your heart surgery in to a video like that. Was it a hard decision to make? Or what it like, "Let's go for it?"
Brian Littrell: It was something that we wanted to give to the fans or give to the audience, so to say. Something that came directly from us. Life experiences. And it was a tough decision for me to make, because I was thinking, "Well, what has been trying in my life that sticks out?" Obviously, it was my heart surgery. I had long talks with the director, because I didn't want it to be too vivid. I didn't want it to be too graphic because it's hard enough for my family to watch it, let alone me. But I wanted to share that, because it was a growing experience for all of us. For each and every one of us.
MTV: Do you remember -- because I talked to you a few months after the surgery, and you were showing us the scars and everything, and you guys were back at Radio City, hitting the road and it seemed all to be all good. But I know since then, you've talked about the fact that you postponed surgery the first time to stay out there on the road, and then you did go back on tour relatively soon after the surgery.
Brian: It really wasn't my choice.
MTV: I was going to say. I mean, but it should have been, shouldn't it have?
Brian: It should have been nothing but my choice, but it was scheduled, and you deal with...I mean, a lot of stuff went down with that. A lot of trying times happened with that with our previous management. The schedule was just laid out in front of us, and that was what got so frustrating, because it was just chop, chop, chop. Had to be everywhere at a specific time, and nothing could stand in the way. After experiencing a delay in my surgery twice, then finally having it, and then eight weeks to the day of my surgery, I was back up on stage in Charlotte, North Carolina.
MTV: Oxygen tank standing by.
Brian: Yeah. I mean, for the first two weeks of the tour I had paramedics and people, because I didn't know.
MTV: It had to have been pretty scary.
Brian: It was very scary. I mean, that put a lot of weight upon our shoulders with coming to terms with making a decision about what was most important. Was our health important? I kinda got picked as the example. I guess to say, that out of all five of us, it happened to be me, it turned out. Everything happens for a reason, and it turned out good. Thank God, you know that everything went well, that we didn't have to take too much time. I know there's a lot of loving and caring fans out there, and I got letters beyond belief. You know, of gratitude and thankfulness. But I think it shows them a different phase of what our work is like, 'cause they realize that a little bit through me, I think, of how hard work is. You know a lot of people think the entertainment business is such an enjoyable thing and glamorous. It has its perks, but, you know, there's real life behind all that.
MTV: I would imagine that Kevin, having lost his dad and knowing that his cousin had a condition growing up as a kid...I would imagine he was going through it pretty hard when you were having your surgery.
Brian: Yeah. He flew to Minneapolis to see me. Rochester, rather. But he came up and visited me for a couple of days and it kind of hit home when he saw me out walking with my, you know, walker and things. They had me up on my feet two days after my surgery, and I was walking laps around the hallway, and that was tough, because I've always been so physically active, and knowing that something would kind of knock me on my butt like it did...it was tough, but that's kind of when it hit home. I remember looking in the waiting room and seeing him in there -- and he kind of turned a little white -- thinking, "Wow." You know, "It's really happening." But we were going so fast, it was hard to kind of slow down and wake up to what was going on.
MTV: You mentioned your faith, that it's always been important to you. When you went through the surgery, was it at its darkest point? Was it challenged? Were you questioning? Was there a lot of, "Why Me?"
Brian: Not really. It was kind of disbelief, because I felt so healthy going into the surgery. That was kind of the hardest thing to believe was why I had to do this in order to live the rest of my life. And when you weigh those things, I thought, well, I've got a wife and some kids ahead of me that I would like to see, God willing, besides all of this going on. I'm making a living for myself, but I'm benefiting my family down the future, down the road. But when you weigh those things I thought, well, no career, no status, or no star status...is worth losing all that.
MTV: Your faith is as strong as ever.
Brian: I think it's stronger now, just because there's more. I've been asked several times when I've been home, you know, people say, "How do you stay accountable to God?" You know, because of all that is introduced with this business.
MTV: I was going to say. Does it challenge you a lot?
Brian: The way I handle situations on the road is like: If you don't put yourself in that situation; if you can think ahead and plan to be elsewhere when you know that something else is going on over here; if you choose the right path rather than the left path, and you don't even set yourself up with putting something that might be strange, that you could see or take part in...you've gotta pre-think those things. I'd rather stay in my hotel room than go out to a bar and be caught with whatever and have somebody say, "Well, you're such a big Christian, and then you had a beer." I'm not gonna tell that I'm not gonna have a beer, because I do, but at the same time, it's like, you put yourself in that company, because you're not just going out to be by yourself. You're going out to be involved with everything that's going in there, and God forbid something happens. It's not worth it.