AJ McLean Says 'Life Is Just Beautiful' After 2 Years of Being Sober (Exclusive)

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Mclean spoke to PEOPLE about his transformative sober journey in Los Angeles on Sunday

 Jesse Grant/Getty Images AJ Mclean
Jesse Grant/Getty Images AJ Mclean

AJ McLean is celebrating his sobriety.

The Backstreet Boys star, 45, said his “life is beautiful” as he spoke to PEOPLE about his two-year sober journey at the Celebrity Poker Match supporting The Actors Fund in Los Angeles on Sunday.

“[It’s been a] little over two years sober now, and life is just beautiful,” Mclean tells PEOPLE.

“Probably the biggest thing I've learned is authenticity, being my true, authentic self,” he says of what he’s learned on his transformative journey.

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty for We The Best Foundation</p> Mclean told PEOPLE "life is beautiful" two years after getting sober

Kevin Mazur/Getty for We The Best Foundation

Mclean told PEOPLE "life is beautiful" two years after getting sober

Related: AJ McLean Says He and Wife Rochelle 'Still Live Separately,' but Are in a 'Much, Much Healthier' Place

This has included letting go of his celebrity persona.

“I've had multiple conversations with my bandmates and the people that work with me when I'm not working, I've asked them all to call me Alex. That's my real name. AJ is a persona. AJ is a character,” he tells PEOPLE. “It doesn't define who I am, and I now feel like I'm getting this healthy balance of when I'm done on stage and I walk off. I'm a dad, I'm a husband, I'm a friend, I'm a brother. That's all that matters to me.”

The singer adds that he is “just trying to continue to grow in my true, authentic self” as he moves forward in his health journey.

<p>Mclean is back to being his authentic self</p> Michael Kovac/Getty

Mclean is back to being his authentic self

Michael Kovac/Getty

Related: AJ McLean Talks Sobriety Journey Ahead of 2-Year Sober Anniversary: 'It Never Gets Easier' (Exclusive)

Another recent milestone for Mclean was completing The DNA World tour this spring with The Backstreet Boys, which marked a special time for the band.

“April 20th of this year was 30 years together,” Mclean tells PEOPLE. “I feel it when I wake up in the morning. No, man, we've never stopped. Even when we lost a member for six years, when Kevin took a bit of a break to start a family and to do his own thing.”

“Our business is finicky, it's always upside down," he adds. "Doesn't always go the way you want, but you have to stay unified, stay strong and lean on each other. We have to always be there for each other and just keep pressing forward. And after 30 years, we haven't killed each other yet — so that's a really good sign."

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic Mclean is working on his marriage to Rochelle DeAnna McLean after splitting earlier this year
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic Mclean is working on his marriage to Rochelle DeAnna McLean after splitting earlier this year

The band isn’t stopping either, as Mclean teases a “huge” project from the group in 2025 — which he credits to his wife Rochelle DeAnna McLean.

“I can't say what, but I wish I could take full credit for it. It was actually my wife's idea and I've been planting the seed with my boys for seven years and they finally agreed," he tells PEOPLE.

"So 2025 is going to be huge for Backstreet Boys. Very big."

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Away from the band, Mclean is working on his marriage to Rochelle, 42, following their separation in April.

“We talk every day, we are spending more time together. We just have to rebuild something that was never there from the beginning,” the singer told the iHeartMedia podcast Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans, last Tuesday.

“I came with baggage, she came with baggage, she had trauma, I had trauma. I wasn’t sober or ready to get sober. She was dealing with her own s---,” Mclean added. “It was just a constant push-pull: She would sweep her feelings under the rug or I would dive into a bottle.”

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