"FIVE: Part 1 - Abs & Ritchie"

Back at their best, the boys talk girls, falling apart and settling down... and explain why A1 are cack...

Abs Breen pushes back his shades revealing a pair of deep, dark eyes with a mischievous glint. "Where would I take my ideal girl on a date?" he chuckles. "It all depends on how you're feeling - that's the main thing. You might hook up and think, 'Sod it - hotel room, let's go!' or you might just go for a walk. Some girls go through the bullshit about how you need to get to know each other first, but they're just the same as lads really."

By pop's squeaky-clean standards, Abs' comments are shocking. In real terms, if you want to know how boys sometimes think, they're just honest. Anyway, Five wouldn't be Five if they didn't come out with the odd jaw-dropper.

That's what makes them the lovable rogues we adore - for all their bad boy antics, their dating and dumping of glamorous gals (between them: Mel C, Dani Behr, Dannielle Brent, Billie Piper, Joanna Taylor - and those are just the ones we know about!), the fights (both in and out of the group) and the inter-band feuds (Westlife, Hear'Say, A1). Now they're back and it sounds like not much has changed in the world of Five... or has it? STAR delves deep to find out...

STAR: What's happening with your love life now?
Ritchie: Well, I would like to find the girl of my dreams. I like the idea of true love.

STAR: Do you believe in love at first sight?
Ritchie: I know that it can happen, because it has. It happened once.

STAR: With anyone we know, like Billie?
Ritchie: [laughs] Erm, yeah! It happened to both of us, we both said we felt it instantly... but I really don't want to go there again.

STAR: What would attract you to someone now?
Ritchie: I used to say I liked blondes, but now I like brunettes, the whole Latin look like Jennifer Lopez. But it's not just that, it's not a hard and fast rule.
Abs: Until recently I thought it was all blondes that I fancied, but it's not. I know it's not news to you, but it is to me! I've been seeing girls with mousy hair and I've been like, "Wow!"

STAR: What qualities do you go for?
Ritchie: I just like nice people and people that I can feel myself around. Not 'feel' myself in a physical way! Someone I can say and do what I like in front of and they're not going to judge me for it.

STAR: Do you have a girlfriend?
Abs: No. All the girls I like at the moment are in relationships. I think I'm cursed. They're friends already but I'm not going to name names. I know they kind of like me too and that's the worse bit.

STAR: What are you going to do?
Abs: Nothing. I'll just stay out of it - let the course run naturally. I'll sit back and if it happens, then it happens and if it doesn't, then it doesn't.

STAR: Would you like a girlfriend?
Abs: At the minute I'm single and I'm enjoying the single life. If someone comes along, then they come along - there's nothing you can do. The last eight months is the first time I've been single.

STAR: Do girls have to be beautiful for you to fancy them?
Abs: Not beautiful, but attractive. I like the chilled out, not too loud and boisterous girls - mature girls. Even if they're young, if they're mentally mature it doesn't matter.

STAR: What's a big turn off?
Ritchie: If they were really really really flirty with everyone and every bloke thought they stood a chance, then I'd be like, "No, it's not for me."

STAR: Are you wary of another celebrity relationship because of all the press attention you received with Billie?
Ritchie: I'm not going to put restrictions on myself. I'm not going to say I won't date this person or that person, no matter who they are.

STAR: Did the press come knocking when Billie got married?
Ritchie: They hounded me and wanted a statement from me but it's nothing to do with me. But then they threatened me. One paper said they had a drugs story on me, which I knew they couldn't possibly have, and they said, well if you don't comment with us exclusively about their relationship then we are going to write this story about you and drugs. I just said write your story because it's 100% unfounded. Nothing was ever written.

STAR: Do you think the tabloid stories are accurate?
Abs: Most things are probably true, only exaggerated. They make us sound like pigs sometimes. For example the A1 thing - we were supposed to have slagged them off. It's nothing personal, it's just that we don't like their music - it's cack.

STAR: You've had quite a turbulent year. Splitting with Billie, your car crash, a court appearance and moving house. What's your state of mind now?
Ritchie: I went through one phase a long while ago when we were on tour. Me and the boys had a fall out and it was the worse fall out we ever had. Plus I'd split up with my girlfriend, then I crashed my car and it all came at once, within four days. I lost my head, I really did. I had a sort of a breakdown. I hated every minute of it but there was one side of me that was just like, "Oh my God, throw the towel in, everything's gone," and there was another side of me that was like, "Bring it on!"

STAR: How did you deal with it?
Ritchie: Well, up until that point I would've said I'd had quite a good life really, nothing had ever gone wrong, and then all of a sudden, nasty things started to happen and it was like I was getting a message that it's not always going to be rosy! I kind of liked it in a funny way. When I came out of it all, I felt like I'd dealt with the situations very well for my age, I've come out of the other end and now I feel strong and solid.

STAR: Do you prefer dating celebrities?
Abs: Not at all. At the end of the day, if you're nice and I like your style, I don't give a toss who you are.

STAR: Are you wary of people liking you because you're in Five?
Abs: Definitely. You might sit with someone and talk to them and you kind of get a vibe. You get an outline but you never really figure out if they're after your money, or they just want to have pictures taken with you.

STAR: Would you like to have a baby and settle down like Scott?
Ritchie: Well, I'm open to finding my true love, but I don't know about marriage and babies yet. Well, I say that now because I'm not in love, but if I was then I might be like yeah, I want that! It just depends on your state of mind.
Abs: Of course. I'd love to get married and have kids. I'd like a boy and a girl. I'd like the boy to come first so the brother can look after his little sister. Right now, with Scott, he deals with it the way he deals with it and he's cool with that. Personally I couldn't do it right now. I'd want to do it when the whole Five thing is over and I've got more time.

STAR: What's your main priority in life at the moment?
Ritchie: First of all, getting the album out and promoting it well. And hopefully meeting 'the one' somewhere along the line. I don't want to meet her too late, maybe in the next four years would be good, but the sooner the better!

STAR: Do you feel stronger now as a group?
Ritchie: Yes, without a doubt. We've bonded big time. At the beginning we didn't know each other and now we've spent four and a half years traveling the world, going through experiences together.

STAR: Abs, you've got a reputation as a bad boy. Is that justified?
Abs: In the early days, if I chatted to a journalist I was young and honest. If I didn't like their questions, I'd ask if I could change them. Maybe the journalist would get a bit funny about it and go back to their office and say I'd got an attitude problem. From there it seemed to spread across the country that I have an attitude.

STAR: How much input have you had with the new album?
Ritchie: We've had 100% creative input, obviously working with different producers, but from the first note or chord that was thought of on any of the songs, we've been there. It's our album.

STAR: Any songs which are close to your heart?
Ritchie: Yeah, one would be Lay All Your Lovin' On Me, it's a rocky sort of dirty sex track - wonder why I like that one! I also like Feel The Love because it's about peace and coming together.

STAR: Are songs with a message important to you now?
Ritchie: We've all mellowed out and we're firm believers that the human race should get together a bit more and forget our differences. Instead of fighting over our differences, like the color of our skin, we should celebrate our similarities.

STAR: Are you planning to tour again?
Ritchie: Let's just say I really enjoy touring. I just love being on stage. I find the only time I forget all my worries and completely feel myself is when I'm on stage. It's what it's all about, it's why I joined the band.

end of article...