You would never have guessed it, but one of the Backstreet Boys’ catchiest songs has more than just the boys playing vocals. One of them actually became an instrument. And no, it wasn’t because he clapped along to the beat. It was something worse. Much worse.
It’s been 20 years since the release of the Backstreet Boys debut album, and in celebration, the gang had gotten back together to speak with Billboard about their days recording. As you would expect, most of their tales are about the stupid things that a bunch of guys in their 20s get up to like late night drinking, partying, and roughhousing.
Although the interview was supposed to stay strictly about the Backstreet Boys’ first album, AJ McLean couldn’t help but share a hilarious story from their fourth studio album, Black & Blue, and specifically the single from that album, The Call.
“So when we were in the studio with Max making the song The Call, Howie was in the booth and we were doing that vocal break down, ‘dun 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.”
Naturally, this story seemed too far fetched, and Billboard attempted to get Howie to confirm the shocking revelation. At first, he attempted to “plead the fifth”, but later fessed up to the truth—the iconic bass line from the song indeed has a sampling of him passing gas.
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In his defense, he says there was indeed a lot of drinking, and that he had been breathing especially hard to record the vocals that day. Apparently, all that heavy breathing resulted in a buildup and “some extra air kind of came out”.
AJ even confirmed the story on Twitter:
Well… the truth had to come out sometime… https://t.co/N7IJ7KmLtb
— AJ McLean (@skulleeroz) August 11, 2017
The true moral of the story is the creative genius of Max Martin, who upon hearing the sonorous toot saw the potential to turn it into a musical tone. Isolating the flatulence alone wouldn’t be too difficult, but then instilling it with audio alchemy to become a truly catchy beat is not something you’d expect to hear from flatulence.
For your viewing and hearing pleasure, here’s the music video for The Call. See if you can find the fart. It’s like a game of “Where’s Waldo”, except you’re trying to find Howie’s fart noise.
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