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Prepare to feel like an antique, because it’s been 23 years – we repeat, 23 – since Steps burst onto the scene and became bonafide 90s icons with the campy, country-inspired stylings of 5,6,7,8. Although it failed to attain a top ten position on the charts, it ultimately led to an unprecedented 15 consecutive top ten singles in the UK – including chart-toppers such as Tragedy/Heartbeat and Stomp. They embarked on a hiatus in 2001, but then staged one of the most successful comebacks in history (for a British, mixed-sex pop group) in 2017 with their number two-peaking fifth studio album, Tears on the Dancefloor. Now, the quintet – which consists of Lisa Scott-Lee, Claire Richards, Ian ‘H’ Watkins, Lee Latchford Evans and Faye Tozer – have announced that they will be lighting up the world UK once again with their aptly-titled follow-up effort, What the Future Holds.

News of their album and comeback single of the same name amassed over 140,000 tweets within a few hours, proving Steps’ undeniable longevity for the umpteenth time. To celebrate their new era, we caught up with the legendary group to discuss their infectious, Sia and Greg Kurstin-penned new anthem, how they plan to top their previous sell-out tour, and of course, their devoted LGBTQ+ fanbase. We started with H, because the rest of the group were occupied with Zoom interviews. Lisa, Claire and Faye make appearances later but sadly, Lee was unavailable to join and weigh in on “ma-nah, ma-nah” and the astounding impact it had on their careers – and each of them, personally. Just read, it’ll make sense later.

I mean, where do I start? I’ve got about a million questions here. So, you’ve been in the industry for over 20 years…

H: Alright, you went in deep there! Straight away! 23, yes. In two years it will be our 25th anniversary! But let’s not go there just yet…

You’ve done a lot of things throughout your career, but never an album campaign in the middle of a pandemic… 

H: Never! Obviously, it was never supposed to be that way. We have to kind of work two to three years ahead, so during the last tour, we were asked the question, ‘Do you want to do this again?’ We didn’t really know, but then we had Sia send this song to us and as soon as we heard it we were absolutely sold, hook line and sinker. So, that moment hearing that record was like the blueprint for everything that’s happened now. We’ve had the song for three years. It’s an incredible story. She’s a Steps fan, which is quite unbelievable, and she wrote this for herself and thought it wasn’t right for her, and she said she wanted us to have it. That’s kind of incredible and that’s where it all started, because of Sia.

I never would’ve put those two together, but Steps had quite a lot of success in Australia right? 

H: Yeah we had a couple of number ones in Australia. I think we’re around about the same age so she would’ve been aware of Steps. I guess she wasn’t the artist that we know today, but hey, I’m so grateful.

When you all listened to it, was it a moment where you all thought, ‘Okay, this is our song.’

H: Yeah, completely. For me, a Steps song is always determined by the chorus, and of course, we put in a key change there because it’s not a Steps song without a key change. But for us, we love to look back to the past with nostalgia and then try and look forward with our music. We were ready to go and then this bloody pandemic… It just wasn’t appropriate, the lyrics weren’t appropriate then. But now, they can be something completely different. It can be a very positive message.

H: From back in our day, there aren’t even any acts that are still together where there were five original members. We’re the only band still doing it, even Spice Girls, Take That…

When I heard the song and album title, I assumed it was written in response to the pandemic… 

H: Yes, it’s just an absolute coincidence. It was the first song we chose three years ago and the whole album was built around that song. Complete coincidence. Once we decided to do an album, we gave a brief out to some writers to see if they can write songs within that brief. Last time around we did it, we didn’t even have a record company so we did everything ourselves. We sourced songwriters and asked them to write specifically for us. It was hard… That was a task! We’d been away for a long time and nobody knew if we had any worth anymore. We’ve always been seen as a little bit of a joke within the music industry, but 23 years later we’re still selling out arenas and I’m very very pleased about that. So, we have the last laugh!

I mean, your last album went to number two. That’s huge. 

H: It’s weird, because when we were releasing records, even when I was buying records, a record was always released on a Monday and it would get a midweek chart, and you’d queue in Woolworths to get a copy. It’s part of our era and our fans are of that generation, they like to collect and they want something physical, which is why we’ve made so many formats available. It’s cassettes this time, I love that. We’ve got cassettes and vinyls. It’s a very different era, so to even be charting 23 years since our first single is magic.

It’s difficult for any act to reach the top ten, let alone an act that debuted in 1997. 

H: From back in our day, there aren’t even any acts that are still together where there were five original members. We’re the only band still doing it, even Spice Girls, Take That…

Not only do you have Sia on this album, but you’ve got MNEK, Greg Kurstin, Hannah Robinson, among others… 

H: Incredible writers! But like I said earlier, we were knocking on doors going, ‘Do you have anything for us?’ This time a lot of people came to us, and we’ve got a record company on board this time, last time we tried and nobody would take us so we went, ‘Okay, we’ll do this on our own.’ We funded it ourselves. We sourced all of our own PR and radio, sourced our own visual team, did everything ourselves. The admin involved in that is just incredible, very overwhelming. But now, a lot of record companies have copied our blueprint and they’re carrying that on. It’s great. It’s incredible.

23 years into your career and you’re still – as cliché as it is to say – marching to the beat of your own drum. 

H: Oh we love it. Last night we were signing all of these albums that people pre-ordered, so we had boxes and boxes and boxes in our hotel. Lisa, Faye and I were in the room because Claire and Lee live in London, so they go home. Lisa, Faye and I stay in a hotel because we live all over the place, and we were signing albums together and it was really quite emotional because we don’t take for granted the amount of time we’ve been doing this. Every time we release a record it’s special, you know? Then we started reminiscing about the good times and the laughs we had. I mean, we’ve had ups and downs. We’re like brothers and sisters. We love each other and we hate each other, but it’s great. We are more than friends. We’re family now. That’s why we stay together.

How would you describe the sound of the album? 

H: It’s very different to Tears On The Dancefloor. That was like a freight train and we always knew that album was going to be a club banger. Every song was very dance influenced, but this one there are lots of different influences. There’s 70’s and 80’s vibes, a lot of 80s-style ballads. So it’s a mixed bag, it’s more of a journey this time rather than a party.

Ahead of the single launch, you said your aim is to acknowledge what you’ve done in the past, but you’re now looking forward to the future…

H: Yeah, that’s why we love that lyric. That’s just who we are.

Does that mean that there’s going to be less 90s and 00s classics on tour? 

H: No, we’re so fortunate that we have an incredible, and I say that because I love pop music and I love our music, back catalogue. There aren’t many bands that can do hit after hit. You know, I’ve seen some shows recently and I won’t say who, but they rely on album tracks to fill their set and, you know… Give the people what they want. That’s what we do.

Steps are READY.

H: Everything is done, yes. We’ve recorded everything and mastered the album by the end of last year.

How do you decide the run of singles? 

H: I mean, we always knew that What The Future Holds… Hiya!

Lisa: Hi! How are you all? Can I join?

H: We’re talking about how we choose singles.

Lisa: When you’ve got Sia writing it, it was easy. Sia has written our new single… I don’t get bored of saying that. I just keep saying it! I’m such a massive Sia fan anyway. She’s an incredible artist and songwriter. We all love Sia don’t we, yeah it’s really exciting. I think it was a no brainer. I don’t know what you’ve said, H.

H: No, that’s exactly what I was going to say.

Lisa: As soon as we heard the track, there were just no questions that it was going to set the premise of the new album.

H: The club mixes are going to be epic.

Lisa: Oh I know, we haven’t even heard any yet have we?

Can I just stop you guys for a second and ask: where can I find the Fountain of Youth? 

H: It’s called a glam squad!

Lisa: We have a great team, but also honestly, we’re just so grateful and happy to be here and I think that kind of comes through a bit…

H: I was saying last night that when we were signing albums we got really emotional.

Lisa: Listening to our own album.

H: We don’t take for granted what we’re doing all of this time later.

Lisa: No we don’t. Each time we return, we don’t really like the word ‘comeback’ because we feel like Steps really never goes away because of our fan base, we’re always a little bit apprehensive to how we’re going to be perceived. We’re blown away every time by the support and we’ve just been trending on Twitter. We’ve had so much amazing feedback. Just really happy and grateful!

Lisa: We don’t really like the word ‘comeback’ because we feel like Steps really never goes away because of our fan base.

Oh hi Claire! Grab a chair.

H: Come here!

Claire if you need a fan, I have one right here. 

Claire: I’m just blowing hot air in my face. I couldn’t believe how warm it is. Cheers!

Keep it. We’ve got plenty in the office. Plus, it’s broken. 

Claire: We love a fan.

What time did you all start today? 

Claire: Well to get ready, it was around 5am?

You must be bloody knackered. 

Lisa: We did have a rather late one. I was drinking green tea in my hotel room until this one turned up.

H: No you weren’t! You were drinking gin and tonic with me. Oh before, yes, and then we drank a lot of gin and tonic.

Lisa: Then Faye turned up with a bottle of vodka, but to be fair we enjoyed signing all our albums while listening to our album. I know you’ve probably already been asked, but have you listened to the single?


Claire: And?

Love. It’s explosive disco and it fits with the disco revival right now, although you have been doing it for 20 plus years…

Claire: Exactly. We love all Gaga and all those artists though. It’s incredible that we’re still doing what we’re doing after… It’s 23 years isn’t it?

Lisa: I always ask Claire, she knows the facts you see. She always knows it spot on, she’s the oracle.

Claire: Are you having a nice time there, H?

H: A lovely time. I have done half of the interview to be fair.

He’s like, ‘I’m out.’  

H: Next!

Claire: Where are you from? I love your accent.


Lisa: It doesn’t sound like Devon.


Lisa: No.

Claire: Whereabouts in Devon?


Paignton, do you know where that is? It’s near…

Lisa: I know it very well. My first boyfriend was from Plymouth and he used to take me to look around that area. I do know it.

No one knows Paignton. 

Claire: I think I went to Devon last year, it’s beautiful down there.

I always have to say that it’s next to Torquay so people know. But yeah, my accent is just Devonshire gay. 

Lisa: Oh I love it!

Claire: We like.

H: I wasn’t going to drink today.

Lisa: The last time we were on tour, which was the Summer of Steps Tour, there was always Prosecco and gin in the room. We always said we weren’t going to drink that day, but by the end, we always ended up having a glass.

Claire: We do generally have fun though and enjoy ourselves. When we’ve done a show and we’re all on a high we can talk and be like, ‘Did you see so and so in the audience’, or ‘Which was your favourite bit?’ you know what I mean?

Lisa: There’s nothing more glamorous than splitting a bottle of Prosecco into five plastic cups.

H: It’s the only time we get to do it, when we’re away from our kids as well.

Claire: Yeah, you let your hair down.

H:  Absolutely, yeah.

I Wasn’t Going to Drink Today sounds like a future Steps classic? 

H: Oh my god…

Lisa: Yes!

Claire: Yeah, it’s got a ring to it.

You get Greg Kurstin on board…

Lisa: Yeah, and Sia!

We were talking about the tour, because it’s obviously not happening until next year, and what you’ll all be doing in the meantime…

Claire: Yes.

Lisa: The album isn’t out until November, so we’ve got this little initial bit of promo. We’re doing a video for the next single on Friday, and then I think November we’ll have a bit more promo around the album.

H: There are key times.

Lisa: We’ll probably have a bit next year as well but, the whole planning, it’s actually really nice to have such a long amount of time to plan a tour. We normally always say, ‘Let’s start talking about it now!’ and it never quite happens.

H: We have always said that we are a safe place for all different minorities, all communities. As Lisa says, we have an open door policy.

H: We’ve got an extra year this time.

Lisa: Every tour the fans say it was the best tour yet, and ask how we’re gonna better the next one. We do feel the pressure because we’re so known for our big shows and touring and being entertaining. It’s challenging and exciting to think about where we can push it next time and what we can try. Thinking about the set list, that’s a massive conversation in itself, so we’re really lucky we’ve got such a big back catalogue and that we have the option to take songs away. Whereas, some new artists are having to put covers in just to sort of make the time up.

Claire: I think we might do a few medleys.

Lisa: Yeah, we could just do one big medley! It’s not easy.

Claire: Obviously, tickets are going on sale next week and there’s a certain element to it that has to be decided. We know what our stages are going to be already, so that is really exciting, and it’s already different from last time. I’m really excited.

Are there any songs you don’t particularly like performing? 

Claire: There is one particular one, and that’s where we have be really creative and kind of recreate it.

H: Guess which one!

Claire: The audience love it.


All: NO!

Lisa: 5,6,7,8.


Lisa: Do you know what, for years and years we just did it full on. Then all the subsequent tours after that we would just try and think of ways how to do it, but not actually do it, you know? We made a cartoon one year with massive heads.

H: We did a fan video one year.

Lisa: We did fan videos one year, but then on the last tour, I have to be honest, and I didn’t think I’d feel like that, it was one of my favourite numbers. We had so much fun. We did proper line dancing.

H: Bales of hay, cowboys, cowgirls, saloon doors… Brilliant!

Lisa: We had this whole set and we all made our entrance through the saloon doors. It was so much fun! We had such a laugh. My only worry is..

H: How do you top that?

Lisa: Yeah how do we top that this time? I don’t know how we can.

Claire: But also, when you’ve been performing a song for 23 years and the audience loves it, we have to keep it fresh, really. It wouldn’t go down well if we weren’t to do it…

Lisa: Maybe we’ll just go back to the absolute, down to basics original. Just the five of us, doing our positions.

One of my favourite pop facts is that 5,6,7,8 is one of the biggest selling singles to never reach the UK top ten. 

Claire: Yes, that’s true! Yes. 14 was the highest position.

Hi Faye!

Faye: Hi! How are you doing?

I’m great thank you, how are you?

Claire: It was the biggest selling single of that year not to reach the top ten.

Lisa: Yeah it’s true.

Claire: It’s highest chart position, which we also had with Tragedy, was weeks after… Which wasn’t really heard of in those days.

H: It’s had millions of views on YouTube and on Spotify it’s our number one streamed.

Claire: It’s had billions!

H: Billions, sorry, billions!

Faye: People think it was a number one though.

Lisa: It was in Australia.

Claire: Actually it was, that’s true.

H: The first week we released it, there was a song that was released the same day called “ma-nah, ma-nah”.

Claire: “Ma-nah, ma-nah!”

H: “Ma-nah, ma-nah” actually charted above us.

Claire: No Way No Way! They were called Vanilla.

H: Did they go on tour with us? I don’t think so…

Claire: We did a couple of club gigs with them.

H: We did our first Top of the Pops with them and we were quite gobsmacked that they charted above us!

I don’t remember this song… 

Lisa: “No way, no way!”

Claire: “Ma-nah, ma-nah!”

H: In the video, there was a pool and… It charted above us. That’s why we thought, ‘This is our one hit. We’re a one chart wonder.’

Claire: 23 years down the line and we’re on our sixth album…

H: Who’s worried?

Faye: What do you mean?

H: It’s all good!

I’m dying to hear this… It sounds very Cheeky Girls. 

Claire: It was before the Cheeky Girls!

H: [plays No Way No Way by Vanilla]

Lisa: It’s brilliant.

All: “No way no way! Ma-nah, ma-nah! Don’t get fresh with me!”

H: I know this is cutting into your interview time…

Claire: “Ma-nah, ma-nah!”

No, not at all. I love this song. It’s… iconic? 

All: “You can hold me in your arms!”

Did they say, “But if you force yourself on me?”

All: “Things are gonna get narrrrrsty!”

How do I follow up “ma-nah, ma-nah”? What question can I possibly ask you now? 

H: What the Future Holds…

Lisa: Tell me what the future holds!

Let’s talk about the gays. At one point in your career, each of you, did you realise that a majority of your audience were LGBTQ+? 

Claire: Early on.

Faye: We used to do G-A-Y…

Claire: Was it the first time we did G-A-Y, where the queue was twice around Soho?

H: Jeremy Joseph used to say it was like New Years Eve, every time we performed. It was around the block.

Faye: The guys all had their shirts off, big sweaty messes having the best time.

Claire: My mum used to go to G-A-Y and I used to tell her that we weren’t on until 2 or 3am and she was like, ‘That’s fine!’

Lisa: It was such a great atmosphere.

Faye: We loved it!

H: In all seriousness though, we have always said that we are a safe place for all different minorities, all communities. As Lisa says, we have an open door policy, so it doesn’t matter what colour, what creed, what gender – whoever you are, we are here for you. You just come and be who you want to be.

Faye: And I think people know that.

Claire: I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s because we are so unapologetic about who we are and the music we put out because, we weren’t cool back then. From an audience point of view, they look at us and go, ‘You know what? That makes it alright for me to be me.’

H: ‘They’re having a fucking great time, so I’m going to join them.’

Steps’ sixth studio album, What the Future Holds, will be released 27 November. They will embark on their tour of the same name – with special guest star Sophie Ellis-Bextor – in November 2021. Visit here to purchase tickets.