Smash Hits, August 2002
It's a sunny Thursday afternoon and ex-Five hottie, Abs, is bouncing around a London photography studio, chatting about his forthcoming birthday party. Sporting a half-shaved eyebrow and some calf-length socks ("I ain't telling you where I got them, man, but they ain't from M&S. Or Littlewoods!"), he's trying to climb into a shopping trolley when his tour manager strides into the room with a grin on his face.
"I've just been speaking to a girl who's absolutely stunning," he says. "It turns out she's a model. So I told her that I know Abs from Five, and she's like, 'Oh my God, Oh my God! I've always really fancied him!'"
Abs: "Yeeeeah! Was she blonde or brunette?"
Manager: "Blonde. She had nice friends with her as well!"
Abs: "Did you invite them to the party? Are they coming to the party?"
Manager: "I forgot to ask!"
Abs: "Oh man! Where are they? Quick, they might still be in the car park! Let's go and find them and give them some tickets!"
Abs sprints after them, forgetting he's wearing the baggiest pair of jeans in the world. By the time he reaches the door, the jeams have started to slip down. Somebody ought to tell him, because Abs is just about to chat up a model with his bum showing over a pair of Yves St Laurent boxers...
Richard Abidin Breen, 23 years old the day after this interview, is having the time of his life. He's got everything he could ever need - models at his disposal, blinging jewellery and erm, a new tropical fishtank in his flat. He greets us with a finger-crushing handshake, a smile the size of England and a shout of "Geeeeeezer!"
He looks happy now, but it was different when Five split up last October. "I was the only member who didn't want it to happen," says Abs, who was left wondering what to do next. So he took refuge on the sofa. "I spent two or three months watching crappy TV," he laughs. "I really got into Trisha and Bargain Hunt!"
But thankfully, his Homer Simpson period didn't last long. Abs was soon off to Dublin, recording an album in the same studios as Westlife. "I had some wicked nights out on the town with the boys," he grins. "One evening, I ended up with my trousers around my ankles and don't ask me how it happened, because I can't remember! I also hung out with U2."
Finally he got around to recording his new single, What You Got, which is unleashed this month. It's a cover of '70s reggae track Uptown Top Ranking which Abs has customised, doing an Eminem and name-checking Britney. "I met her at the MTV Awards when we were presenting an award together. Walking to the stage, she said, 'I really like your band's stuff.' I was like, 'Don't say that, cos it's obvious you haven't heard any of our music in your life!' But she is cute!"
Bad Boy Behaviour
Despite his confident exterior, Abs admits he's nervous about being the first member of Five to release solo material. "Well, it was always J or Ritchie in the tabloids, getting celebrity girlfriends and all that stuff. And Sean and I were always kinda pushed to the background. So it feels weird, man," he smiles.
Five were the original bad boy boyband. They did things boybands weren't supposed to do - swearing, tattoos, piercings, booze, fighting and snogging girls. Lots of them! And Abs obviously hasn't lost his wild streak. Does he always approach random honeys in the street and ask them out on a date? "To be honest with you, yes!" he reveals. "If you see someone you like, it'd be mad to let them walk past. If you show a bit of interest, they always say yes. It's brilliant, man!" There's nothing like the direct approach, then...
"Absolutely. I've met lots of girls in clubs and gone straight to hotel suits with them," he says, smugly. "And I hardly ever get turned down," he adds, "but once, I was chatting up a gorgeous girl, who was totally acting like she fancied me. She gave me her number and then all of a sudden, she's got a boyfriend who wants to knock me out! It did get heavy and he gave me a bit of lip!" Oops!
But there's good reason for his womanising. "I was tied up in a heavy relationship when I was in the band," he says. "Now I'm just a single guy sampling the world, man. Having a good time..."
Party On, Dude!
Indeed he is. The following night, is Abs's 23rd birthday party at London's exclusive CC Club. Inside, Lee Blue and So Solid Crew shuffle away on the dancefloor to Nelly's Hot in Herre. Elsewhere, Emma Bunton is having a heart to heart with Michelle Liberty X, while Suzanne Hear'say is looking foxy at the bar, fuelling rumours that she and Abs are an item. Elsewhere, Shane ex-Boyzone is slumped on a sofa texting somebody. He's later seen puking in the toilets - rock'n'roll!
And then Abs swaggers in, wearing a tracksuit and cradling a champagne glass. Immediately, he's pounced on by six girls who look like models. Could these be the laydeez from the studio the day before? He winks at us before the six girls usher him off into the distance. It's a hard life being a pop star again, eh, Abs?
Are Five Alive?
Abs fills us in on what his ex-bandmates are doing with all that free time...
Scott: "He's got a baby and is living in his hometown, Pitsea, and is doing a drive time show on Essex FM. Scott is a happy family man. His son is called Brennan, but I don't think he's a closet 911 fan!"
Sean: "Sean is mountain-climbinb in Canada. He's also plays for a rugby team and has just taken up boxing. I don't think he'll return to music at all..."
Ritchie: "Ritchie is writing a solo album. He's split up with his girlfriend and is into walking his dog. And no, he doesn't wear eyeliner - he's just got funny eyelashes!"
J: "J has been taking it easy. He's lived the whole rock'n'roll life, partied harder than anyone and just wants to have a normal life. I think he's enjoying not being in the papers!"