Five Bad Boys With The Power to ROCK YOU
[Sky Magazine - July 2000]

They're the boyband it's OK to like. But Five also reckon they're the hardest group in pop. SKY'll be the judge of that... Five don't behave like your average boyband. They celebrated their first No.1, Keep On Movin', with a tour of Amsterdam's red-light district. They slag off other acts. "They're wimps and they're dull and they hang around in frilly silk blouses," said J of Westlife. And when they row, it often ends in fisticuffs. Some would say that's all a front - that the real Five is Ritchie wearing more slap than Lily Savage and J not leaving the house unless his tan is dark enough. That beneath the swagger, they're your regular boyband nellies. How can ANY boyband be that hard, be that rock-n-roll anyway? This month they continue their bid to climb out of the boyband bin with a cover/collaboration of Queen's heavy metal football chant anthem, We Will Rock You. Watching them pad around as they have their photos taken, they behave like a normal bunch of blokes without the strutting of their stage and tabloid personas. J's the oldest, definitely the sexiest, and the self-confessed "dad" of the band. Abs and Scott are more than a little hyperactive and Sean's so shy he's suffering in silence despite the fact that he's broken his hand. And Ritchie? Well, Ritchie is the prettiest and 100% make-up free. So, are Five all mouth and Maharishis? SKY's seven-subject rock 'n roll test will decide...

1. Trashing Stuff
Throwing a TV from a hotel window is the toppermost cliche of rock 'n roll tomfoolery. Five have almost done it. "I tried to and it didn't go," smirks J. "Before we got big and famous like what we are now, we had to share rooms. Me and Sean were in Sweden, we'd been hammering the minibar and we couldn't find the control for the TV. So I tried to rip it off the wall, and Sean threw a bottle of beer which smashed the TV screen. So we tried to finish it off and throw it out the window. But it didn't work." Sean, a bit shamefacedly, backs him up. "Everyone says rock stars have lost it when they start doing things like that, but we did it before we were famous!" The same goes for Abs, whose antics were just as unlikely. "We were in Dublin. I was in Scott's room and we were just chilling out. I was smoking a cigar and the next thing I know the room is on fire. So that was about 60, 70 grand's worth of room up in smoke. But I swear it wasn't deliberate." Even cherubic-cheeked Ritchie admits faux-innocently, "I've trashed a few, but people come back, you have a little party and somehow things just get broken." Rock rating: One TV, one beer bottle, one hotel room... trashed. Not bad.

2. Taking Stuff
You've not really arrived in the world of rock until you've 'fessed up to a drug habit. From Fatboy Slim to Kurt Cobain, Liam Gallagher to Dr Dre, dabbling in the old recreationals helps cement your wild man status. Five are a boyband so they have to tread more carefully. There have been pictures in the tabloids of a pre-Five J smoking huge joints, eating hash cakes, and making "disgusting comments about the Queen mum". So does he do drugs now? "I choose not to do them, but it doesn't bother me. I wouldn't exactly walk out of a party in disgust if people were doing it". So just what's that guy in your tattoo doing, J? He looks down on his arm, where he has a tattoo of a guy smoking a joint. Aware he's been rumbled, he laughs. "Why that's a Marlboro Light. Can't you tell by the shape?" Does he think that cannabis should be legalized then? "Yeah, simple as that." Ritchie agrees, but is a bit more philosophical on the matter. "I'll tell you why," he says, warming to his theme. "Because it grows, it's natural. And if you believe in God, how can anything that grows be illegal? Also, no one who smokes a spliff goes out and starts fights like someone who's been drinking." And what did they think of the pictures of Daniella Westbrook and her one nostril (eaten away by sniffing cocaine)? Ritchie adopts an evil grin and says, "Now that is what I call caning it." Rock rating: Pass. When it comes to bragging, drugs is where they draw the line.

3. Drinking Stuff
They claim to be a drug-free zone, so what are Five's favorite drinks? Scott pipes up: "Stella". J's partial to champagne but insists, "I don't drink it to be snobby. I used to worry that people would think that I was trying to be flash, but now I just don't give a shit." No champagne for Sean though, because "It gives me a heartburn. I'm a JD and coke man." All this imbibing must have led to some sticky situations. What's the worse thing they've ever done when they've been trashed? Ritchie, in confessional mode, tells a long story about having a fight with his best mate. "We were 15, trying to organize a party, but only one person came. We filled a pint glass with spirits and got totally wasted. I had had one fag left and he hid it. So we had a fist-fight. Sad, isn't it?" Perhaps, but not when you have Scott admitting that he "pissed in the corner of my room when I was 15" and Sean revealing that he tried to run away from a cab fare "but I tripped over the back wheel and got caught." What about the normally calm and collected J? He puts on a serious voice: "Probably kissed some very unpleasant person." Rock rating: Cheers boys, you've got top marks and hollow legs!

4. Groupies
Five are a very, very good-looking band so it's hardly surprising that they get more than their fair share of willing admirers. Their South American fans are the most aggressive in their pursuit, they reckon, but it's pretty much the same story everywhere. what do fans do to get their attention? Abs shakes his head in disbelief, "Literally ripping off their shirts and hanging out in the middle of the road." Scott's equally mystified: "Plenty of fans have thrown their bras and knickers at us. But it's not what I call appealing." Ritchie, ever the gentleman, warns, "I'm going to swear now." Then he does. "Well, we get really disgusting letters - there was one which just went 'Rich, to fuck you would be so fucking good. I want to do this and that to you," etc. My mum read that one." But Sean's got the top story. "This girl nearly tried to rape me in Russia. We were in a club and she asked for a kiss and I politely said no. Later she pounced on me, pushed me into a corner and started kissing me. She was all over me." You sense that, what for a lot of blokes would be a dream come true, is a bit of a nightmare for the remarkably bashful Sean. "Everyone else was in hysterics, but I didn't want to push her off too violently in case I hurt her." But surely there must have been times when a groupie's offer seemed too good to turn down? Abs says not. "I've got a girlfriend and all the fans know it but they still try it on." Ritchie wavers for a moment. "Of course you're tempted when you've got a gorgeous 18-year-old standing there..." Is this the bad boy of Five coming to the surface? "But I don't want to mess with people's heads. It's not worth it." Damn. Rock rating: Too many morals. Minus score here, fellas.

5. Havin' it off with the Stars
Real rock stars don't do it with normal people, they do it with supermodels, actresses, presenters and sometimes other rock stars. Ritchie and Billie Piper were ticking this box until recently. What happened? He's a bit reluctant, but Ritchie eventually admits, "It's true that she was the one who dumped me. And I haven't spoken to her since - I've just got back from holiday. There was a rumour that we were back together, but I'm afraid that's not true." Then J had this tryst with Mel C. So he can categorically confirm that The Sporty One's not a lesbian? "Yep." In fact, he's going out with her to a film premiere once he's finished the shoot but, "It's all a bit strange now. We're like really, really good mates. But it's kind of teetering - not one thing or the other right now." It seems J is pretty sought after by his fellow celebs, as well as groupies. Asked if he's ever been on the receiving end of an indecent proposal by a celebrity, he answers, "Yeah. But if I tell you who, they'd get in a whole lot of trouble. It's someone who's happily married, you see - well, I say happily, but obviously not that happily." Sean shuns the celebrity dating thing, claiming "With a lot of these models and that, sexually I would probably enjoy myself like most lads would, but then when you think about it on a person-to-person basis, that's not really my lifestyle. I'm quite down-to-earth." Rock rating: Respectable celebrity rating without reaching "Met Bar Club" levels.

6. Fighting
Right. Who's the hardest? Scott thinks for a minute. "You know, I couldn't say because everyone in this band has got a really bad temper." J disagrees. "It would have to be me. I know a few tricks." The pair of them nearly came to blows on the video shoot for If Ya Gettin' Down. J explains: "We were just narking each other and the next thing you know, Scott's dad's holding him back and our tour manager's got a hold of me. We're screaming, trying to whack each other, then we turn around and all the crew, all the dancers, all the extras are watching us like a fucking soap opera. It was really embarrassing." Rock rating: Clearly a bit tasty. Paparazzi photographers beware.

7. Excess excess
"I do like having sex in strange places." So says Ritchie, who's definitely a bit of a dark horse. "I like the risk. Sometimes when you start kissing and you just think, "Let's do it. That's the best." Now that's more like it. Five have had their fair share of tabloid kiss-and-tell stories, but are they true? J laughs: "Obviously when one of my ex-girlfriends sold the story about me being a veritable stallion in the bedroom, every word of that was 110% true. I don't think she went far enough. Seriously, the few that I've had have been mostly true." J doesn't say if this includes the one who said he liked to be tied to the bed with a dressing gown cord. Finally, have any of the quintet been to a lap-dancing club? J nods reluctantly: "I have and I'm not embarrassed to admit I didn't like it. I walked in and I just couldn't sit there and look at them, because I could tell lots of the girls were just looking at the blokes and thinking 'Sad wanker.'" Rock rating: outdoor sex, lo-fi bondage and a lapping. Over-indulgence a-go-go.

Exam over, Five say their goodbyes. As he's leaving, Abs brags: "I want to record a single with Marilyn Manson, smash up a pink Cadillac, do a shitload of drugs, have sex with whoever's around, buy a plane and then get my penis pierced. And that would all be in one day." He's joking...just.