16:44 Friday 16 November 2012

...5,6,7,8 - Steps to 'light up' Christmas


‘IT has changed my life’ were the truthful words of one of the most famous faces in the UK said as he prepares to embark on a new ‘intimate’ tour.


Reporter HELEN KREFT spoke to Lee Latchford-Evans, in one of his first interviews since his marriage just last week, who makes up one-fifth of bubblegum pop group Steps recently back together after a 10-year hiatus.

A TELEVISION show featuring the band getting back together for their first tour since 2001 showed the gritty reality behind their sudden split — surprising Lee and fellow members Lisa Scott-Lee and Faye Tozer at the time, who found themselves immediately out of a job and on the scrap heap.

The apparent unhappiness from the two other members, Ian ‘H’ Watkins and Claire Richards, was the reason that the band — which had played full blast in millions of children’s (and adults’) rooms since 1997 — split amid speculation of infighting.

Claire and H gave it their best shot at solo careers but disappeared — failing to recreate the magic that made Steps famous.

Now, 10 years and several babies and marriages later (all the girls now have children and are married), the members have worked out their differences and recently finished a sell-out UK tour as well as releasing a number one album.

Never ones to fade into obscurity, the band are to start a six-date festive tour — Christmas with Steps — starting in Plymouth at the end of November before finishing up in Wolverhampton’s Wolves Civic on December 5.

Their new Christmas-themed album ‘Light up the World’ was announced on September 24, and coincided with the 15th anniversary of the release of their debut single 5,6,7,8.

With all this going on it has been a busy time for the five-some —more so for Lee who recently got married to singer/songwriter and dancer, Kerry- Lucy Taylor on Saturday.

He said: “I got married in the last few days so it has been busy for me, but in Steps it has been manic. There is always so much going on. We have had a number one album, television show and a sell-out tour, and at the moment we are all in a room doing interviews.

“It is really great being back together and moving forward. We all get on great.” A lot has changed in the band in 10 years — a few more wrinkles and as well as mini Steps — but apparently the fans still remain and grow.

“We were shocked (at the difference between fans 10 years ago and now).

“During the tour we were expecting our fans to be about 20-years-old plus, those that have grown with us, but we were seeing young children in the audience who weren’t even born when we were around. It is a new generation of Steps fans. It is surreal.”

Lee, who joined Steps aged 22, says the band’s success, and ultimately why their fan base continues to grow, is ‘because you can leave all your troubles behind with us. We are non-offensive, with catchy melodies’.

All Steps fans can rest assured that ‘Christmas with Steps’ will feature all the old classics but ‘we have played around with them and have some ballad-esque songs too’, says Lee.

“Of course we have the old Steps songs, but it will be small and intimate.

“It will be a fun atmosphere. We look like we are having fun. You can forget your worries and have a bit of fun with it.

We get rid of your stress.” With the tour coming up it should be plain sailing for the 37-year-old who admits it is easier for him to work compared to the girls.

“It is easier for me not having a child on tour. The only thing I really think about is getting on the tube to work. It is as simple as that, but the girls have to plan nannies and babysitters and when to see their children, so it is difficult for them.”

Nevertheless, Lee says the whole Steps experience has changed his life.

“I am still a northern lad, I’ve got morals. I came from a working class family and this has given me a future because I am able to own my own home, and I have seen the world.”

Further information abut the tour is available by visiting www.livenation.co.uk, www.gigsandtours.com or www.facebook.comstepsofficial Tickets cost up to £50.75 in advance.

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