5IVE ARE BACK – AS FOUR!
OK! Magazine, March 2013

“HE CAME AT ME WITH A BASEBALL BAT”

Sean, Scott, Abz and Ritchie speak exclusively to OK! about losing their marbles and their money and why they’re pleased Jay didn’t return.

It’s been nearly 12 years since 5ive split and, big fans that we were of the seemingly perfect boy band, we were under the impression that the lads couldn’t wait to get back together and give each other a long overdue hug. But, when Scott Robinson, Ritchie Neville, Abz Love and Sean Conlon sat down in the same room together for the first time in years, there was a lot of unfinished business – and not of the pleasant kind!

Here, at London’s luxurious Kensington Hotel, the boys speak exclusively to OK! about why they’re secretly pleased “bully” Jay Brown is out the picture, which member was kicked out of the group but came back with a vengeance and how the split sent them all over the edge – including Abz’s story of how he lost everything and ended up living in a rat-infested attic…

5ive are back as part of ITV2’s The Big Reunion – but there aren’t five of you any more. Where’s Jay gone?
Scott: I’m ecstatic he’s not here. Being in a band with him is hard work.
Ritchie: He was a big reason as to why a lot of our days were dark. We flow better as a unit now without him.
Abz: He’s being made to look worse than he is. He’s not a bad guy.
Ritchie: Well, I remember one evening watching TV with Scott. Jay had just got home after a night out and one minute we were all fine, joking around as normal, the next he was like: “I’m going to hit you with a baseball bat”. I thought he was joking so I was like: “Go on then!” Then suddenly he came at me with this bat, threatening me, literally for no reason whatsoever. Then on a separate occasion, we were rehearsing for the MTV Video Music Awards and he was trying to boss me around, so I started ignoring him – I just wasn’t in the mood. So he dealt with it by running over and kicking me in the back as hard as he could!

Were you hurt?!
Yes. He knocked me off the stage and I was fully winded. He was off-the-Richter-scale crazy sometimes.

How was he not kicked out the band?
Ritchie: He was – a few times actually – but he promised to change. Then when he came back he decided to take Sean under his wing – and that was the demise of Sean.
Scott: You actually chucked me down the stairs once, Sean, and cut my lip. You were a very angry lad.

So we guess you weren’t exactly in tears when Sean left then?
Scott: I didn’t even care when he left.
Sean: I think they all probably felt angry.

So the cardboard cutout of Sean in the Let’s Dance video – was that a dig?
Sean: That was disrespectful. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t hurt.
Scott: I don’t feel guilty. It wasn’t our idea!

We caught your audition on The Voice, Sean. We take it you were missing the music industry?
Well I’d been working as a writer for a while and I think I’d been in denial about being a performer. So when the opportunity came long to perform in front of all those people, I took the plunge.

You went from being in one of the biggest boy bands in the world to auditioning for a TV talent show – and the judges didn’t even put you through. Do you regret it?
Sean: I don’t because, at the time, I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance to perform on a big scale like that again. I didn’t know this reunion was going to happen. In truth, my last audition before The Voice was with Simon Cowell for 5ive and that went pretty well! [Laughs] So it didn’t knock my confidence.

Do you regret quitting 5ive, Sean?
No, it was more a case of we were doing a photo-shoot one day, I had a panic attack, walked out and never went back. I was in a bad place and needed to find myself.

None of you dealt particularly well with the split. Scott, didn’t you have a breakdown?
I was quite low. I was overworked and that coupled with everything else, like all the mental bullying, made me very unhappy. But the very next day after the band split, I got married. It was a very quick fix.

Abz, you did pretty well after the split as a solo artist – then you disappeared! What happened?
When the band split, Simon Cowell just saw the true awesomeness of the band that was me! [Laughs] No, probably not. I think he just saw how upset and frustrated I was and he gave me this amazing opportunity to go solo. He told me I was going to be his Michael Jackson/Eminem. Then I had to sing Miss Perfect – how did that happen?! My creative control was taken away so I exited as quickly as possible.

And you completely vanished, Abz…
Because I lost everything. I ended up living in the attic of my friend’s bakery for four months. I’d wake up every morning with flour on my face and rats all over the place. It was ridiculous.

Couldn’t you stay at your friends’ houses?
They offered but they had wives and girlfriends and I didn’t want to get in the way. At that time, I’d basically disowned my mother too, so I wouldn’t turn to my family.

How did you lose everything?
Drugs. When the band split, I turned more rock and roll than ever. I was taking everything. I had so many debts because of I,, I started staring at my letterbox like it had teeth. I had to sell all my properties, everything. I found it really hard to trust anyone so I enlisted someone’s help but then he ended up being a conman and stole Ł250,000 from me and that was all I had left.

Have you tried to tracking him down?
Of course, but the conversation got very heated and I ended up in a police cell! Then I met this millionairess who took me under her wing. She took me around the world and it as amazing. Then after that ended, I met my girlfriend and moved in with her – that was my rehab. She helped me find a new way of living and understanding, which has kept me going ever since.

It’s hard to see how this happened – you didn’t even drink when you joined 5ive…
I know, I was teetotal, Jay was the one who started it. He got me on the Bacardi, lemonade and lime, and then it progressed.

Are you financially stable again now?
No not at all. I don’t even know how we’re going to pay next month’s rent.

After revisiting all the dark times you went through as a group, are you sure you want to do this again?
Sean: I want a second chance. This time I want to do it properly. I want to be grateful for everything we get and take the time to connect with the fans.
Abz: There was a time when I was embarrassed to talk about 5ive. I remember I took all the memorabilia and platinum albums off the walls. But since I’ve made up with my mum and I’ve had rehab, I realise now that 5ive was a beautiful thing. The awards are all back on the walls now!

Ritchie, you live in Australia now – would you move back here if 5ive took off again?
Never say never – I can’t rule out a return!

Is there a future beyond this tour?
Scott: It certainly looks like the industry is ready to welcome us back.

Finally, are you going to replace Jay?
Scott: We’ve had a few auditions, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Written up by Jen..