It was never deemed to be cool to be a fan of Steps – the UK pop group that was for want of better words, manufactured music for the masses.
scenestr spoke with Claire Richards on the makings of Steps, their evolution as artists, and what 2020 has in store for both Steps and their Australian fan base. “It’s nearly 23 years since we became a band," enthuses Claire.
"I definitely feel like we have evolved and come into our own, more than we were back in the day; we were a manufactured band and that’s cool, as a lot of bands started off this way.
“We have a chemistry on stage that can’t really be explained. We’ve never tried to be cool; I don’t think we could be even if we try.
“Sometimes we were criticised by the critics because they didn’t quite understand what we were doing, it was like ‘this is pop, but not how we know it, so we're just going to say we don’t like it'.”
Even at the peak of their commercial success in the early noughties, Steps received plenty of negative feedback from the music media. But Claire is adamant Steps enjoyed the support of the silent majority at the time.
“People now are saying, 'well actually I loved Steps, but couldn’t say it at the time',” Claire chuckles, “because they worked for this cool magazine, cool TV show or this cool radio show.”
It is perhaps true that pop music today all sounds the same, created by artists hooked on making bold statements through their lyrics; musing on this Claire adds this was never what Steps was about. “Pop then was exciting, every pop act was different. I don’t think there really was one act that you could say they’re just copying so and so.
"Today, it’s not that it’s not great music, but a lot of it sounds the same. Although pop is of course whatever is popular at the time, the cool thing is, Steps still has a fan base from all those years ago, who still want to listen to us.”
In 2020, Steps will finally make their way down under performing as part of the So Pop festival series, which features a stellar line up of '90s and '00s artists including the likes of the just re-formed Pussycat Dolls as well as Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
The festival will visit Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne in April. “We’ve never performed a proper show for you guys in Australia, which is massive considering that '5, 6, 7, 8,' was number one in Australia. It’s going to be a chance for us to come out and show you what we are made of.
"When we do shows, it’s all about everybody leaving everything at the door when they arrive, all their baggage and all their worries, and everyone just going nuts and remembering what it was like, however young they were when they heard us the first time."
Not only are Steps touring Australia in 2020, fans should be elated knowing they will also be realising new music. Claire finishes the interview by promising: “Our new music will still be Steps, with big soaring choruses, bittersweet lyrics, and a decent melody that people can sing along too."
2020 looks certain to be a great time to be alive; this Steps fan can’t wait to see them live on stage. If you too are excited as all hell, book your So Pop tickets asap.
So Pop 2020 Tour Dates22 April - RAC Arena (Perth)
24 April - Brisbane Entertainment Centre
25 April - Qudos Bank Arena (Sydney)
28 April - Adelaide Entertainment Centre
30 April - Melbourne Arena