Steps are back – and topping the charts again. Reuniting after ten years in the wilderness, the new greatest hits compilation, The Ultimate Collection, has gone straight in at number one, giving them a number one album in each of the last three decades.After a warts-and-all documentary on Sky Living and appearances Daybreak and This Morning this is turning into a great few weeks for the five piece camp-pop supremos: More than 80,000 tickets for a brand new arena tour next April have already been sold, including needing to add an extra night at London’s O2 arena. So So Gay spoke to Lisa Scott-Lee and Lee Latchford Evans about the reunion earlier this month:
In the five years they were together they scored 14 consecutive top five hits, two number ones and sold a staggering ten million albums. But behind the scenes all was not well, and the new documentary reveals all about the reality of being in a manufactured pop band: how it feels when you find out none of your vocals can be heard in the final track and what happened when H had a secret relationship with band manager Tim Byrne.
Just an hour before the last gig of their sell out Gold tour, H and Claire handed in their resignations and that seemed to be that. Lisa Scott-Lee certainly seemed to think so. ‘I don’t think anybody did, especially with the way things ended.’ In fact it took two years for their to be any communication between the two camps – H and Claire, and Lisa, Faye and Lee. ‘Myself, Faye and Lee really felt divided because of how things split,’ explains Lisa. ‘Over the years we really kind of worked on building the bridges and supporting each other.’
For Lee and H it was even longer before they saw each other. ‘In those first two years I think it was just finding ourselves, finding who we are, keeping close with people that we trusted at that point. But I think out of all of us myself and H probably had the longest divide,’ he reveals.
So what was it that brought them together after six years? ‘It was Claire’s wedding – second wedding, may I say – that brought us all together for the first time,’ says Lee. ‘But even then it wasn’t a time that we all sat down and discussed anything because obviously it was a nice occasion. Don’t want to ruin any atmosphere.’
They are obviously nervous about giving it another go. ‘It’s a big deal,’ reckons Lisa. ‘And also because we did have so much success we didn’t want to tarnish anybody’s memory of Steps.’
It had been quite a career; Lee remembers doing ’5, 6, 7, 8.’ ‘We were only signed for one song originally, so it was just a case of go out, do that track and see what happens.’ And what happened was quite remarkable. ‘It had a huge success in itself,’ continues Lee. ‘It’s still in the Guinness Book of Records for being the longest song in the charts that actually didn’t enter the top ten – which was quite a weird and phenomenal achievement in itself. I think the record company were happy with that; they saw potential. We got Pete Waterman involved, and, as they say, the rest is history.’
Steps have always had a massive gay following, some of their largest gigs were on stage at G-A-Y. ‘Some of our best memories are from our shows at the Astoria,’ recounts Lisa. ‘We were always lucky to have a great gay following and it’s still very present today, and that’s something that we’re really proud of’
And why do they think they have such a gay following? ‘Well I think because we’re a bit camp,’ laughs Lisa. ‘We’ve got great pop songs. I think the gay audience appreciate that; they’re really good at letting their hair down and enjoying themselves. I think they could just see that in ourselves that we were enjoying ourselves.’
One of the reasons has to be Lee himself. When So So Gay took to Twitter to ask readers what questions we should put to the band, we were asked to pass on at least four proposals or marriage to him. ‘Lee is looking very hot,’ agrees Lisa. He’s spent much of the time since Steps broke up running famouslyfit.com, a site that provides ‘loads of information if you’re into that sort of thing. You can go there and find out lots from diet, health tips, injury prevention.’
But there’s one thing every fan wants to know: when will Steps be back on the stage. ‘I think there’s no doubt about it – the thought of touring again and coming to see you all is really exciting thought,’ says Lisa. ‘But we really are going to see how the Ultimate Collection goes – that’s out on 10 October. If that’s well supported then it means we can take it on the road. It really is down to the fans.’ So maybe you should be brushing up on your ‘Stomp’ and ‘Tragedy’ just in case.