Exclusive Big Reunion interview: A1
We chat with the Big Reunion boys ahead of the brand new series. And yes, they're still hot...
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These days we're all fighting over our favourite member of One Direction (it's between Harry and Zayn, if you're asking), but back in the 90s, Team GT always had a bit of a soft spot for A1. That's why we were thrilled to hear they'd be back on our telly screens for the brand new series of ITV's The Big Reunion – conveniently debuting tonight. We sat down with the boyband... sorry, man-band, to find out what they've been up to, whether or not they'd be pulling out some of their patented dance moves, and what they think of the current crop of pop's young pretenders...
So, why the big reunion, why are you getting back together?
Mark: We’ve been away from the UK for a very long time now and seeing as the last series of Big Reunion was such a success we thought, well actually it could be good fun to do something like that.
I suppose things have changed from your heyday, with the way people access music, and the way people approach it in the UK. Is that still something you’re getting to grips with?
Chris: The music industry is so fast today and if you haven’t had a hit in the last six months…
Ben: Or in six weeks [Laughs]
C: …Then you’re in the cold a little bit so you need a platform, like Ben said, a TV show to get people’s attention. There is so much screaming for attention out there, you know?
B: People have so much choice because of YouTube, Spotify and all that kind of stuff.
M: I know it’s probably going to make us sound old, but when we were around YouTube wasn’t, Twitter wasn’t, Facebook wasn’t.
Are you all on Twitter?
M: We’re all tweeters.
B: We’ve got an @A1official, @benadamsuk, @markreadmusic and @a1Chris
So, that in it self means you can connect with fans and engage, is that something you’re getting into and enjoying?
M: We love engaging with fans
B: The thing is now you have direct contact with your fans and you can get their feedback, whereas before you didn’t really know what people were thinking, or what they wanted to hear. It’s amazing to be able to have that kind of contact.
Speaking of performing in front of thousands of fans how are you feeling about getting back in front of a British audience?
M: Can’t wait. A1 actually blew up in the UK so to be able to come back and see some of those fans again to me is amazing.
What do you like most about touring, what’s the pinnacle of it for you, the highlight?
B: Touring is the best thing we do. We love being in the studio, we love all of that in fact. When we’re not doing stuff with A1, we’re all writers and producers for other artists.
It must be quite a rewarding feeling that people are excited about seeing it. Did you watch Big Reunion last year?
B: Yeah, watched quite a lot of it, big fan.
M: Actually, we thought some of the bands came across really well on that. The good thing about it is that you’re hearing stories that you’ve not heard from the bands. It was nice to see a program where what is perceived to be a squeaky clean pop band showing that, actually, we went through quite a lot of difficult times.
There are so many different elements to the show. I mean, the kind of interview process is: how are you, how are you finding that?
B: It was. It was very different for us, the interview process, because it was about the stuff that was from way back in our past. Going through some stuff was very difficult for us, you know?
M: People will be surprised when they hear some of the stories on this program. It’s quite difficult to watch just from little clips I’ve seen. Seeing us talk so candidly and seeing us struggle with some of those issues.
B: The drama is like, up there.
M: From what I’ve heard so far this is a very dramatic series, there is a lot more drama than the previous series.
C: It was refreshing not having to shiver in the cold about everything or try to paint a perfect, squeaky-clean image.
How do you think that you’d fair with boybands nowadays if you were coming out right now? You’ve got your X Factor boybands, your One Directions?
M: Musically, I think we’d fair rather well, extremely well. I think there are some good ones out there, like Lawson and The Wanted. We’ve always focused on our music as a band and I’d like to think as times move on, we’ve grown musically. I think our music would still stand up today.
You mentioned new music earlier. What stage are you at there?
C: We’re always writing. We’ve been writing all these years as a team, we were always really good. We’ve recorded quite a lot of stuff that is ready to be released.
B: A lot of people didn’t know A1 the first time round. It’s a bit of a surprise that we used to be in an all-dancing boyband. People over here are obviously going to recognise us for that, so it’d be great to get to a stage where we’ve managed to do a similar thing here to the rest of the world.
From each of you, what is your number one highlight of being in A1?
B: The number one highlight has to be winning the Brit Award I think. Even today most bands out there aim to achieve that.
C: I thought the whole recording process of the album was my favourite part as Mike Hedges, who has done bands like Manic Street Preachers, Travis and U2, gave us so much freedom in the studio.
M: My favourite experience from A1, wow. There is something magic about getting your first UK number one.
Something to brag about, definitely. So, to bring our time to a close... performing in front of a British audience again; what can they expect?
M: This is not just a one off thing. This is not just the big reunion, you know.
B: We’re just focusing on this for the moment and we’ll work out what the next step it when we’ve done this one.
Big Reunion returns tonight on ITV2, from 9pm.
Words: Chris Hitchings and Perry Juby