It’s official, Steps are back with a bang. According to Official Charts Company data, Tears On The Dancefloor, the pop group’s first album of new material since 2000's Buzz is currently at No. 1 on the midweek charts. Music Week has already caught up with the group to talk about their 20th anniversary, as well as asking manager Peter Loraine of Fascination Management to take us further into the campaign. Here Steps - that’s Claire Richards, Lee Latchford-Evans, Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer and Ian ‘H’ Watkins – shed more light on the album that is kick-starting their 20th anniversary celebrations in style…
What does this new album mean to Steps?
Ian ‘H’ Watkins: “For me it’s all about celebrating this milestone in our career. We always said we’d do it, but not many bands get the chance to do this. I mean, how many bands after 20 years get the chance to record and produce new material? Especially in pop. For me, it's about celebrating and marking the occasion with a bang.”
Do you wish you’d done this album of new material first time around when you reunited in 2012, instead of doing a covers album?
Latchford-Evans: “I think nostalgia was needed at that point, and that’s what it was in 2012. It was a nostalgia tour, really.”
Claire Richards: “The whole thing was quite a cathartic process for all of us just to get out what had happened, and just to be able to get in a place where we wanted to do it together again, I suppose.”
Latchford-Evans: “I think that tested the waters a little bit as well, because we weren’t sure how that was going to do and we ended up with a No.1 album, sell-out tour and top-rating TV show. But that was a surprise.”
And where do you think Steps fit into the modern pop scene now?
Watkins: “We’ve always gone against the grain.”
Lisa Scott-Lee: “That’s what people like.”
Faye Tozer: “I think there’s lot of people out there in the world that don’t fit in, they’re not accepted into society – we appeal to everybody because we’re universal. They can be a part of it.”
Watkins: “I think where we succeed is that we crossed over. Parents and families wouldn’t mind listening to the same music as their children, so they’d go, Oh, go on, I’ll buy you tickets to a Steps concert! When really they wanted to go! For a lot of our peers, I don’t think it was the same crossover.”
Tozer: “There are not many things in this day and age a whole family can go to and enjoy. We’ve got generations at our shows now.”
Speaking of which, you have the big arena tour towards the end of the year. How are you preparing for that?
Watkins: “We’re talking about having a lot of nostalgia in there.”
Tozer: “Our last tour was massive, we put so much into that – all the high tech things. We want to be a little bit smart with this one and give the creative ideas and make it clever in a way that will bring fans on board.”
Watkins: “We’ve been known for our big productions, but I don’t think it’s about that, it’s about people reliving nostalgia. Already we’re talking about a homage to the Deeper Shade Of Blue PVC outfits. We’ll just camp it up. This is a party.”
Scott-Lee: “It’s going to be a visual explosion so every song is either stamped in its original form or we’ll give people something completely different!”
Tozer: “Our problem is that we’ve got that so many hits we can’t fit them all into the time. We’re trying to work out how we can squeeze all the songs in and which ones to drop. That’s really hard; we had 14 singles out that did really well, now we’ve got a brand new album that we need to showcase. Hopefully people will be able to tell us what they like.”
Watkins: “Maybe we’ll do it like Harry Potter and do it in two halves.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over your 20 years as a group?
Richards: “I think sticking together as a band – the five of us not really letting outside influences infiltrate that to kind of put us against each other. And not to take ourselves too seriously and just embrace what we are.”
Latchford-Evans: “You realise what you’ve got and who you are. It’s a life lesson. It takes a long time to find that. You only realise later on in life that, You know what? I just need to be who I am and hopefully that’s accepted. That’s the same in this industry. We are what we are, we are Marmite – some people are not going to get it, some people will absolutely love it, and that’s fine!”
Watkins: “It's compromise for me. You learn you’re not right all of the time.”
Scott-Lee: “Can I have a copy of that please? I’d like to put it above my fireplace.”
Watkins: “You understand it’s not your way or the highway. We all have our own quirks and reasons.”
Scott-Lee: “That’s really mature of you! I think I just feel lucky to be doing what I always wanted to do from being a little girl. For me, I didn’t fall into the industry – I always wanted to be in it, I was singing and dancing from a young age and doing dance classes every night of the week and went to stage school. I hoped I could make a career doing what I loved, I just feel blessed that that’s happened.”
Tozer: “For me it’s keeping your feet on the floor, being grateful for every tiny little success and not expecting too much and being upset when things don’t happen. I think sometimes it can be a rat race, and I think we’re so blessed we’ve got the time to pause and soak it all in and appreciate it and tell the people who support us thank you. We’re really lucky people.”
Watkins: “We never took this for granted, but when we were in a pop bubble back then, it was part of our every day life to be on Top Of The Pops, or morning television, all of these incredibly huge shows. It was just part of our world. And when that ends you go, Oh my God, that was us! It’s just part of our job.”
Richards: “I honestly, honestly believe – and I always say this – but I do think everything happens for a reason. If we hadn’t split in 2001, if we hadn’t come back in 2011, I don’t think we would be here at this point and be able to do what we’ve done now. I honestly think there is a plan for everybody that just has to unfold, no matter how you feel. But now, looking back on the last 20 years, if none of that had happened we would’ve been dead and gone a long time ago.”
You can watch Steps’ video for their lead single Scared Of The Dark below: