As Westlife and the Spice Girls grapple in the UK, things are altogether more mellow across the pond...

As WESTLIFE and the SPICE GIRLS are at each others' throats in the UK, the ongoing
rivalry between BACKSTREET BOYS and *NSYNC is being played down by HOWIE DOROUGH in the run-up to his band?s 'BLACK & BLUE''s release.

"The whole big thing is who's breaking whose record," he says. "Especially since we had the record ourselves last year. But records are made to be broken, and to us, it's not so much about that. It's just about making good music, and if the fans love it and we're happy with it, everyone else will come along with it."

"All I can do is relate it to sports, where a person has their favourite team. The recent World Series is the best example I can think of - two teams from the same town. There are fans that are partial to both, and there are fans that are die hard
*NSYNC or Backstreet Boys. For me, I feel there's enough out there for everybody to share, but sometimes people feel they just want to have a loyalty to one group. At the end of the day, though, we're all out there, just trying to make good music."

On the subject of the Boys' 2001 world tour, Howie also tells Wall Of Sound[/url] that it is likely to have "a musical theme". Explaining further, Dorough says: "It's going to be a great show. We're probably going to go with an end stage this time, instead of in the round. It's going to be really exciting."

Finally on the subject of Swedish megaproducerMax Martin contributing to 'Black & Blue', Howie comments: "We were both there for each other at the start of our careers. We're like family with him. He's just a great guy. I definitely feel this album is a growth for us. Each album we constantly strive to better ourselves as
musicians and writers. We've got seven tracks that we've written. Two as a group, and the rest were written by us individually, or collaborating with a couple of the guys or different producers."

The band are due to touch down in the UK tomorrow (November 9) for a whirlwind promotional visit, including a signing at London's Virgin Piccadilly record shop.

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