The Band Split, But No One Told Me!
Now Magazine, August 2002
Abs on his solo comback- and truth about his relationship with Sugababe Heidi.
Abs was ready to board a plane to Stockholm for a gig, but where were the other members of Five! The band had split up and no one had bothered to tell him.
They were the boy band who had sold over seven million albums, gone platinum in 27 countries and had 10 top 10 hits. Then, just as their last single Let's Dance hit the no.1 spot Five split without any warning.
The split took Five's fans by surprise and band member Abs was just as shocked. "I turned up at the airport for a gig and no one else turned up" he says today, a year after the groups sudden bust-up.
"They could have at least called me to let me know they'd had enough. I felt really wounded by that, especially after spending five years with them."
However, he does admit that the writing had been on the wall for months, starting when Sean bowed out, leaving the group recording the Let's Dance video using a cardboard cutout of him. Then Scott lost interest after the birth of his first child.
Reported fights and jealousy between band members Ritchie, J, Scott, Sean and Abs are also thought to have contributes to the decision to call it quits, although Abs insists that he'd have been happy to perservere with the band.
"I didn't want Five to split, but the boys just wanted to do their own thing. We started arguing more and communication slowly broke down between us. When it ended, I didn't have any plans for a solo career. Five had been my life."
Even the offer of £1 million for a farewell tour failed to tempt the boys to bury their differences. "I was the only one prepared to do the tour." Abs says "All we had to do was travel the world and jump on stage a bit. It wasn't even about the money. We'd spent a lot of time together and I thought we'd at least be able to do a final tour for our fans."
"Maybe the others had become complacent about what they already had. I know J felt he'd had enough and he was desperate to get out of the showbiz lifestyle."
Overnight Abs went from a chart-topping pop star to a jobless singer without a band. Not surprisingly he thought his career was over. he spent his months watching daytime TV shows such as Trisha and Bargain Hunt, ocassionally locking himself away in his studio to write music.
Then, just as he'd started to wonder if it really was all over, he recieved a phone call that would change his fortune and give him a second chance in the cutthroat music industry. It was from a totally unexpected source- Pop Idol's Mr Nasty, Simon Cowell.
"Everyone expected Richie and J to go solo because they'd been out with celebrity girlfriends and were always in the limelight," Abs explains. "I couldn't believe it when I got the call from Simon saying he wanted to sign me. Getting the call was like hearing the voice of an angel," he grins, aware of the hard-nosed reputation of his new boss.
Abs insists: 'I've got a good working relationship with Simon, plus he's got a really nice black Ferrari that I want to borrow, so I'd better say good things about him.!
"Simon signing me is as a solo artist is a big compliment, because I know theres no way that he would have taken me on unless I was worth the investment."
Ab's first solo single What You Got has just been released and he's determined that his solo career will be as successful as his time with Five. However, he says that he's not going to follow the same route as Robbie Williams, who walked out on Take That to become a star in his own right.
"I'm not about to take my career in the same direction as Robbie, who left a huge part to go solo, or someone like Mel C. I've written most of the songs on my album and I'm really proud of it. I want to take this album around the world and carry on where I left off with Five"
Abs has certainly made no secret of the fact that he's single, but the mention of the reported new love in his life, Sugababe Heidi Range, is met with a cheeky smirk. He admits: "Heidi's really sweet and we're kind of dating.
"We met ages ago, when she first joined Sugababes, but I had a girlfriend at the time. Things have moved on quite a bit since. It's all easy-going at the moment as shes busy with her career and I am with mine. There's no marriage, babies or even house-hunting on the agenda. We're just having fun."
Abs has also been linked to Hear'Says Suzanne Shaw, but he's eager to set the record straight about the relationship. He says they never dated properly, but kept bumping into each other at events.
"It wasn't as if I'd call her and tell her that I wanted to see her. Nothing was ever arranged like that," he says coyly.
There appears to be little love lost between Abs and his old band members- only Scott attended his recent 23rd birthday bash. Abs admits he was hurt. "I was gutted that the boys didn't turn up, but I think they had something more important to do on the day. I did see J recently- he's the spitting image of Steven Seagal. He's grown his hair long and he's got rid of his beard and eyebrow ring. Sean texted me "good luck" for my single, but I haven't heard from any of the others."
Not that Abs is too worried- he's too busy concentrating on the future. "When you've had a job that was as good as Five, you'd be mad not to want to keep it going. This is my second chance in the industry and some people don't even get a first chance, so I'm determined to make it work."