Soldier of the Month: May 2020, Meet Tara
To say the least, 2020 has been one of for the record books. All around the world people have been isolating in their homes, trying not to catch Covid-19. People deal with idea of being locked inside in different ways.
For Tara Roland of Washington state, it is the Backstreet Boys who are helping her through the situation.
“It’s odd how history repeats itself. BSB is helping me in almost the exact way they did as a kid,” Tara said. “I grew up in a very small town in rural Eastern Oregon, and from the ages of 13-16 when I finally had a license, I spent my summers essentially social distancing. My dad was at work and my mom had gone back to college. My parents lived 10 miles from town so it wasn’t an option to just walk to a friend’s house.”
During her teenage years, Tara suffered from depression and horrible anxiety and it was the Backstreet Boys that got her through it.
“I would sit on my computer and build my BSB websites and chat on AOL to all my BSB friends,” she said. “It’s so weird because this is pretty much what I am doing now to get through this.”
Recently Tara was one of the lucky fans who was able to get a Looped call with AJ McLean and was able to talk to him about how much the band means to her.
“… In my head I’m like there is no way in my wildest dreams I would have ever thought at 12-13 that I would be sitting here at home as an adult, not being able to see my friends or go anywhere, and I would actually be on a video call with AJ,” Tara said. “I remember when I was making my websites all I wanted was to meet them that I actually photoshopped a picture of me with them and now I have real pictures with them!”
While she no longer makes Backstreet Boys fan sites (but she did previously own take-my-hand.net and kevin-11.net), Tara has been sitting at home during the pandemic watching music videos, going through old memories, and chatting with her best friends around the world that she met through the group.
“One of the few things lately that is giving me a glimmer of hope in dealing with my anxiety and depression is knowing that one day I’ll be able to see my friends and BSB again, even if it doesn’t happen this year like it is planned,” Tara said.
Fan Club Username: Tara Lynn
Where are you from? I grew up in a super small town in Eastern Oregon (8000 people in the entire county), but now live in Seattle, WA.
What do you do for a living? I am an administrative assistant at a small gym and also a certified personal trainer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am 34, married with no kids but 2 cats. I have a degree in Biochemistry as well as my personal training certification, and I actually started college at the University of Kentucky because of BSB! When my uncle got sick, I came back home and ended up staying in Oregon to finish my degree. I also had a pug (she was the best dog ever), because Nick had pugs.
How long have you been a BSB fan? Since 1997. I was 11!
How did you become a fan? Where my parents lived, we couldn't get cable TV (literally lived so far out of town the cable company wouldn't reach us) so in late 1997, we got satellite and had Much Music as a channel. Since it was from Canada, they played a ton of BSB. When I first saw the music video for “Quit Playing Games” I was hooked!
When was the first time you saw BSB in concert? August 13, 1998 at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR. Portland was a 5 hour drive from where I grew up and my parents wouldn’t drive my friend, cousin, or me unless I helped cover the costs. I had been raising pigs in 4H and actually used that money to pay for everything so that I could go see them! So it always makes me smile whenever Kevin says anything about 4H.
What is your favorite BSB memory? For me there are two memories that are tied. The first one was the first time I met BSB. They hadn’t scheduled a show for Seattle the first leg of the IAWLT tour so my friend and I bought tickets for the show in Vegas, which also was my first trip to Vegas! About two weeks before the show my husband surprised my friend and me with VIP so I could finally meet them. I don’t think I slept one night that entire two weeks leading up to meeting them. When I finally did get to meet them I couldn’t talk and all I could say was I met them, I met them, I met them.
The second one was on Halloween night of the 2014 cruise. I had spent so much time making my comic book Kevin costume and I was so proud of it. I had left my room and was in the hallway on the ship when Kevin came around the corner in a huge hurry. Keith had said that he was late to an event and that he couldn’t do any pictures to those of us standing around and Kevin looked at me and said I would get my picture and actually grabbed me by the hand and had me follow them through the ship to the event he was late for (the event for the scavenger hunt winners). Justin was there at the same time and was the one who took our picture together!
What is your favorite BSB song and why? “Quit Playing Games” - this is the first song I ever heard of BSB and no matter what I always come back to it as I look through their song titles picking out a favorite. It will always hold a special place in my heart, especially as an 11 year old seeing that music video for the first time, haha.
What is your favorite BSB video and why? “Just Want You To Know” because it is so different from anything they have ever done. It always makes me laugh.
Who is your favorite Backstreet Boy and why? Kevin! Always has been Kevin from the start. When he left I was so devastated I missed the Unbreakable tour (only tour I have missed!) At first I was just the most attracted to him, but then as I started to get to know his personality over the years more, he always stuck as my number 1. And although all of the Boys are amazing and great to their fans, the amount of patience Kevin has when you talk to him is just incredible.
How has BSB impacted your life? Where do I even start? As a kid I dealt with really bad anxiety and not the greatest relationship with my parents, but no matter what I had BSB. I spent hours working on my BSB websites, teaching myself HTML from viewing other websites, and chatting on AOL with friends to escape from it all. I feel like I can genuinely say that they saved my life. Not to mention the friendships that they have created! My closest friends I have met from BSB. Even though we may not live in the same town, all of my best friends I met because of them. One of my oldest friends, Robin, and I actually met online over 20 years ago because of our BSB websites and we finally got to meet in person on the 2018 cruise! And since then we’ve been able to see BSB live together twice.
I also don’t know if I would have done as much traveling as I have because of BSB. I got to visit Europe for the first time because of the cruise and because of the friends I have made I have excuses to travel to visit them!
What is your favorite thing about being a BSB fan? The friendships I have made because of BSB. Like I had mentioned with the previous question all of my best friends I have met because of BSB. And we always have something to look forward to with being a fan since they continue to hold events and put out music!
Did you get to go to Vegas to see the boys? How about the DNA Tour? I was able to go to Vegas in April of 2017 and on their anniversary show on April 20, 2019. My birthday is April 22 and one of my best BSB friend’s Stephanie’s birthday is April 19 so we met along with my other best BSB friends from around the country for a fun birthday weekend in Vegas! And I was able to go to the DNA tour in Vancouver, BC and Everett, WA. Fingers crossed for the upcoming tour! I currently have tickets to the Auburn, WA show and the Albuquerque, NM show.
What has been your favorite BSB moment over the past 27 years? Definitely the release of In A World Like This. When Kevin had left, I still loved BSB (because no matter what I always will), but it just wasn’t the same. I had actually met my now-husband during that time, so he wasn’t even aware of my BSB fandomness. And then Kevin came back, and he learned what he was in for, haha. The second leg of the tour I convinced him to go with me and we got a picture with BSB together.
What do you think about how popular the boys have gotten again? And a whole new generation of BSB fans? I love it!! It makes it so much fun to be able to actually buy BSB stuff again and not on eBay! I love that when people ask me who my favorite band is and I say Backstreet Boys I don’t get the deer in the headlights look. And I love that the BSB Army can still break the internet.
What's one thing you are most looking forward to with the future of the Backstreet Boys? To continue to see their music grow! Lately while I’ve been working at home I have been cycling through all the different albums and have been listening to them from start to finish rather than on random and really have taken the time to see the progression in their music. I am excited to see what the next 27+ years will sound like!
If you had to go in a bunker and take ONE Backstreet Boys item with you, what would you pick and why? I would probably take my Kevin Burger King toy. There are such good memories associated with that toy, down to how I got it. Growing up where I did the closest Burger King was about 2 hours away. We happened to be making a trip to the town where the Burger King was located for a doctor’s appointment, so I was so excited to go and get the toys/VHS/CDs. When I got to Burger King I told the employees how far I had come to get the toys and they actually sold me all five of the Boys and all of the CDs because I wouldn’t be able to get back before the promotion was over even though they were not supposed to be sold as a set. And Kevin has been with me on all three of the cruises I have been on, as well as traveled through Peru with me! He also has been with me at every job I’ve had.