Worldpop, 8 August 2002
Abs Breen is the first member of the chart smashing boyband Five to embark on a solo career with his debut single, What You Got. Worldpop caught up with him and chatted about the Five split, paving the way for Blue and er, eating coco pops...
1. On What You Got and going solo
Tell us about your new single, What You Got.
What You Got is the first single off my album. Those of you that have heard it are probably wondering where you heard it before. It's a sample from Uptown Top Ranking which was a big hit back in the 70s for Althea & Donna. It's a very summer time track.
Were you familiar with the Althea & Donna original?
To be honest with you I didn't really know the original; I was in my mother's womb at the time! But I heard the backing track in the studio and I was just like, 'Yeah!' And a couple hours later What You Got was born.
Is your debut album going to sound like Five?
A lot of people have asked, 'Is it going to be similar to the Five stuff?' Because I was in Five there are gonna be times when you think, 'Oh yeah, that's Abs' stuff.' But musically I've just been free to do what I want in the studio. You've got a bit of dance music on there and you've got some slow stuff, you've got some up tempo, a bit of rapping, a bit of singing. Something for everyone.
You were always in the background in Five. How does it feel having the attention focussed on you?
I think people are going to get to know me a bit more now that I haven't got four other guys to hide behind. A lot of people were surprised that I was the first one to come out of the band, because Rich and J were always in the front doing the interviews and had the celebrity girlfriends on the front page of the tabloids. I'm surprised that I have come first, especially with the type of single that I've released.
Did you plan to go solo as soon as the band split?
I didn't know what I was going to do, the band split and that was my first job from leaving college. It's like a lifestyle, everything's planned out for you and then all of sudden you split up and none of that's there anymore. It's a bit life changing.
2. On the Five split
Do you have more control over your career now than when you were in Five?
We had a lot of control over Five. But it got to the point when there were so many requests coming in that one person in the band would make the decisions. But now everything's coming to me and I pass everything; things like choosing girls for your video and dancers. It's a tough job!
Were you surprised when Five split?
The split got mentioned every now and again, but then it'd go away and everything would be normal and cool again. Then it'd get mentioned again and the gaps were getting closer and closer. Then all of sudden it was, 'Don't bother turning up for work today.' Then there was about two months of watching TV and eating coco pops that I did.
You recently said that the other Five guys have lost the plot. What's happened?
Scott hasn't lost the plot. He's settled. He's got a kid, family, his own radio show. He's one of the only ones I keep in touch with. But the others, I don't know. I think they've kind of experienced their five years of madness and just want to lead a normal lifestyle now.
Do you miss the other guys?
I don't miss them. The only thing that I get now and then is I go to a hotel and I remember, 'Damn I was here with the boys and this happened or that happened.' Apart from that it's nice to be back travelling, recording and performing, so I don't really miss that side at all.
Do you miss being on stage with the other guys?
Not really. I was on stage with four other guys and now I've got six lovely looking women. It's a lot more enjoyable and a lot more appealing!
What would you do if the other guys said they wanted Five to get back together?
Depends how my stuff's going at the time! If I've still got a mortgage to pay and dogs to feed, I might even have kids by that point! But to be honest with you I highly doubt it. I think everyone's had their mad five years and that's it. Otherwise we'd still be here promoting singles. But I think everyone has had their time, apart from me. I'm still hungry.
3. On paving the way for Blue and why boybands are still OK.
Are boybands still a viable commodity?
There's a lot of them, and I don't think people are getting tired as they're still getting released and there are still boybands that are being successful. They've been around for a bit, and as long as you're coming with something fresh, that's all that matters.
Do you think Five paved the way for Blue?
Five stepped out the way and Blue moved in nice and sweetly. They're cool, they're nice guys. So obviously if you're doing something a bit fresh and a bit different then people will be like, 'OK.'
What's Five's legacy?
Five paved the way for a way to be. Even from day dot, when Take That were still around we were like, 'Yeah, we've got girlfriends, yeah we drink,' and that was unheard of in those early stages. But that was because of who we were. There were so many things that we did that made a name for ourselves, and it just got bigger and better. We started off winning awards, then we did the Queen collaboration which was killer. I think in a lot of people's minds Five were still the band that were a bit different and the band the boys said it was alright to like. It makes me realise being on a solo career how big they were and how tough it was.
Darius is just about to release a single. Are you fed up with Pop Idol yet?
To be honest with you, if you want to be in the industry you'll pretty much do whatever you can to get it. So if I hadn't had the Five thing and the solo thing I'd probably still be going to auditions trying to get myself known. The only problem I would have had is how manufactured it is. You have to wear this, sing this, there's not much say. They don't really come across as their own people. But I'd have probably done the same thing.
Have you had any Robbie Williams comparisons yet?
Yeah, there's been a few people saying, 'Is he gonna be as big as, is he gonna do the same kind of thing.' It'd be nice to do that, just Abs, rather than Abs from Five, just like you don't say Robbie from Take That anymore. It'd be nice to get that eventually, but I'm not looking at Robbie and going, 'That's where I wanna go.'