5ive look again: ‘The label wanted a boyband with an edge – ours was pretty sharp’ | Pop and rock

5ive members (from left) Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville and Scott Robinson in 1997 and 2022. Later {photograph}: Pål Hansen/The Guardian. Styling: Andie Redman. Archive {photograph}: Getty Images
5ive members (from left) Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville and Scott Robinson in 2022 and (with the remainder of the band) in 1997. Later {photograph}: Pål Hansen/The Guardian. Styling: Andie Redman. Archive {photograph}: Getty Images

Formed in 1997 by the administration staff who put collectively the Spice Girls, 5ive had been the dangerous boys of pop identified for bust-ups and large hits akin to Keep On Movin’ and Everybody Get Up. The band break up acrimoniously in 2001, and reformed with out Jason “J” Brown for actuality present The Big Reunion in 2013. Abz Love left in 2014, so 5ive now encompass Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville and Scott Robinson. This yr they launched Time, their first album in 20 years.


My reminiscence of this photograph is I used to be glad we had been mendacity down so I may half relaxation whereas working. I’m carrying a little bit of weight; we had been consuming lots of junk on the time, fast fixes. Once we began doing OK, I stated to administration: “Look, we’re going to die if we keep eating like this.” So they upped the ante on the meals.

I got here throughout the advert for 5ive auditions in a newspaper. It was a photograph of the actor Paul Nicholls’ head and Peter Andre’s physique, and the headline was “Do You Want to be a Spice Boy?” My instantaneous response was, oh, give me a break! Then the cogs began turning and I utilized.

The auditions had been like a circus. Tribute acts, folks breakdancing. I swayed backward and forward feeling very awkward and sang George Michael’s Freedom. It went from 3,000 folks to 14. Once we had been all in the identical room, they’d the ultimate 5 inside half-hour. I reckoned Scott was gobby and thought lots of himself, whereas Sean was a bit moody and abrasive. Now that I do know him, I realise that was his method of coping with nerves.

I may inform administration needed me to be the Baby Spice of the group. I preferred Nirvana and dance music – I ran off to Glastonbury to see the Prodigy after I was 15 – so I needed to insurgent towards that function for a very long time. The extra exhausted the 5 of us bought, the extra we’d combat – punches and kicks had been thrown. I keep in mind strolling previous a pet store and seeing this pet. It was the runt of the pack and all the opposite canine had been biting and climbing over it. I noticed myself, so I walked in and stated, “How much for that dog?” I purchased it then and there.

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After the band broke up, I moved to Australia and we misplaced contact. I needed to be nameless. I shut the door, turned a recluse for years and doubtless had a little bit of a ingesting downside. One day I used to be in Pizza Express and Coldplay was enjoying. I used to be in floods of tears and felt so blended up. I realised all I needed to do was music.

This time 5ive are much more purposeful and fewer anxiety-ridden. I do know the opposite two are going to show up for the gig on time, do the present effectively and go residence having put meals on the desk for our youngsters. That’s all that issues.


I’d have been 16 when this was taken. I used to be positively a lad, and the time period boyband didn’t sit effectively with me in any respect. Before I joined 5ive, I used to be writing songs at residence. I had an A in GCSE music, however was absent for all my different exams. I joined pondering it was a technique to get into the business, however we ended up getting actually large. There was no turning again.

I had a really humble childhood residing in a council home. When I joined 5ive, we used to receives a commission £100 per week – it felt like profitable the lottery. It all bought spent on alcohol. Being dangerous was a part of our advertising and marketing – each time we had been within the tabloids, we’d panic, however Simon Cowell would say: “Perfect! It’s going great!”

I discovered it laborious being away from my household. I used to be solely 15 after I left, so I used to cry fairly a bit. I used to be a baby, and felt completely overwhelmed. I’d do signings in retailers and will barely lookup on the followers. The boys knew I used to be struggling. They had been supportive of me, however I had a little bit of a breakdown. Eventually, I began to go to counselling they usually prompt I shouldn’t return to the group. The report firm advised the press I had glandular fever and ended up utilizing a cardboard cutout of me for the Let’s Dance video. After that the band break up up.

We’re not as boisterous as we had been the primary time round. We’re males. Dads. Still like a superb drink, although – solely now we all know when to go to mattress.


This shot was completed by a photographer who did lots of our shoots; he’d shut one eye to take the photograph, and the opposite one would look large and peculiar. I keep in mind him on a ladder above us, his bulbous eye looming over us.

I at all times needed spiky hair, however knew I’d by no means get away with it except I used to be a pop star as a result of it’s a bit on the market. As quickly as I bought into 5ive, I stated to administration: “I know exactly the hairstyle I want.” They stated no, however I managed to influence them. I believed: that is it! I’ve nailed it!

One time I used to be spiking my hair up in a lodge rest room earlier than we went to report We Will Rock You. I bought Abz to come back in and see if it was trying OK on the again. He’d been smoking a cigar within the bed room and left it unattended. When we rotated, the entire room was ablaze. Using moist towels over our heads, we crawled out, and simply as we had been about to flee, Abz goes: “No, man, my Timberland boots!” I went: “Leave your boots! It’s not worth it!” We bought handled for minor burns and smoke inhalation. Everyone thought it was actually humorous, but it surely was really fairly traumatic.

The report label needed a boyband with a little bit of an edge, however ours was fairly sharp. We had been all shut, however had a lot so younger, it was at all times going to finish badly. One time I attempted to go away the group after a combat with J. In a gathering with administration, I advised them: “I’m not myself, there’s something wrong. I want out.” Instead of making an attempt to get assist for me, they stated I couldn’t depart, so I misplaced it. I pinned Richard [Griffiths, the band’s manager] up towards the wall, and Simon Cowell was making an attempt to combat me off him. I stayed within the group a bit longer, but it surely was powerful.

For his personal causes, J didn’t need to rejoin the group, and I’ve bought nothing towards him. Before the Big Reunion, we went for a pint and I stated: “I’m bigger than you now – I’m not the little boy you bullied before.” We had a extremely open, good chat as males, and I respect his resolution to step away. About eight years in the past, Abz tweeted saying he’d left 5ive too. I used to be unhappy he couldn’t even decide up the telephone and inform me. We haven’t spoken since.

Because of the damage and the ache from my time in 5ive, I by no means thought I’d be capable of sing the songs once more. Before the Big Reunion I used to be doing solo gigs and masking tracks like Sex on Fire. One day my spouse, Kerry, stated, “Sing Keep on Moving”. I used to be reluctant, however did it. The crowd went wild. I realised, what am I shying away from? These songs are unbelievable. I turned my negativity into one thing constructive, and for that I’m proud.

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