Interview With 5ive’s Abs
(May 31, 2003)
Sky News showbiz reporter Hannah Stott interviewed former boy band 5ive back in 1998 when they were just starting out. Now five years on the group have split, Abs is going it alone and Hannah has returned to speak to him.
It was a bit of a lottery as to which member of 5ive would make it as a solo artist after the band's demise.
As a group they were hugely successful, being named best pop act at the Brit Awards in 2000 and selling more than seven million albums worldwide. It's a hard act to follow on your own - but one member has so far shown his abdominals are strong enough to stomach the pressure.
Richard "Abs" Breen is 23 years old and has already learned what it is to have fame, lose it and clamber to get back on top again.
He told me: "I do look back sometimes and think what I've had: a greatest hits album: I've worked with Queen: I've worked with these great producers around the world. "You have to stop and think about it or you can get a bit blase. But right now it feels fresh and brand new again."
Abs and I are taking a walk in a London park.
No sooner do we start out on our stroll than we get mobbed by a group of school kids.
He tells me that he appreciates the attention more than ever. After 5ive went their separate ways he spent endless days sat at home watching daytime TV. "I didn't want to split up, to tell you the truth. I was like, 'what's wrong with you guys, why can't we do one more tour?'," he told me. Richie, Jay, Scott and Sean made 5ive complete.
Other than being spotted out on the town, none of the singers have been seen since. Abs was the artist picked up by their record label BMG, which came as a suprise to many. "Rich was always the one at the front of the band that had celebritry girlfriends, he was in the papers and so was Jay." Richie went out with Billie Piper before she chose the more rugged charms of Chris Evans.
He was the pretty boy of the group. At one time it was even debated whether he was a lady! When reminded of this, Abs laughs and puts the record straight. "He got a lot of stick, people saying his lips were really red and he wears eye liner. He doesn't. He's just a gorgeous-looking guy. It was his eyes I think that killed it for the girls!".
With a new rude boy accent and image, Abs has released his follow up to his top five debut What You Got. Stop Sign is a re-invention of a northern soul classic. The original version was by Mel Wynn And The Rhythm Aces in the late 60s. It has been received well, with one music critic writing: "This is a track that will change your perception of Abs as an artist." Abs said of his music:
"It's all I know. I have no grades, no GCSEs, so I'm lucky to be doing this. I'm going to make the most of it." Hearing this, I can't help but root for him. With his feet - and the seat of his baggy trousers - firmly on the ground, I leave Abs to revel in the glory of his young fans are showing him. Stop Sign is in the shops now.