”Still Movin’ On Up”
S Club 7 evoked mixed reactions when they burst onto the UK music scene in 1999. Highly popular with their teenage fan base, but the nadir of pre-packaged pop for others, the group was conceived, created and ruthlessly marketed as a multi-media entity. The highly photogenic mixed gender line-up originally comprised Bradley McIntosh (b. 8 August 1981), Hannah Spearritt (b. 1 April 1981), Jon Lee (b. 26 April 1982), Jo O'Meara (b. 26 April 1979), Paul Cattermole (b. 7 March 1977), Rachel Stevens (b. 9 April 1978), and Tina Barrett (b. 16 September 1976). Polydor Records were no doubt highly satisfied when the troupe's debut single, ’Bring It All Back’, debuted at UK number 1 in June. 'S Club Party' narrowly failed to repeat the debut single's success, stalling at number 2 in September. Another setback occurred in December when S Club 7"s Christmas single, ’Two In A Million’/’You're My Number One’, was given a good old fashioned mauling on the sales chart by Westlife's ’I Have A Dream’/’Seasons In The Sun’. Their television series ‘Miami 7’ aka ‘S Club 7 In Miami’, which updated The Monkees format for the 90s, proved to be a highly successful export.
The group continued to enjoy UK success throughout 2000, culminating in December's chart-topping charity single ’Never Had A Dream Come True’. The following March, the group's squeaky clean image was dented when McIntosh, Cattermole and Lee received a formal caution for possession of cannabis. Nevertheless, their next single ’Don't Stop Movin’ debuted at number 1 the following month. Unusually for a UK chart single it returned to the top of the charts in May, by which time ’Never Had A Dream Come True’ had broken into the US Top 10. The group notched up their fourth UK chart-topper in November with the charity single ’Have You Ever’. In 2002, the group was seriously challenged in the UK charts by Polydor's pre-teen spin-off act, S Club Juniors and then proceeded to lose original member, Paul Cattermole to the pressures of touring.
While sitting in her house on Hampstead Heath I got to chat one-on-one with Rachel Stevens about all things S Club, Modeling, and Music. But, I first wanted to know, being that prior to S Club she had been a former model, why she hadn’t pursued that career instead ? ”I never did want to do modeling. That was just a competition I won when I was 15 and really young. My mum entered me into the competition just for a bit of fun really. But I went to the London College of Fashion because I’m really interested in fashion as a person. So I went there for two years and went on a business course as well and then I worked for a couple of years in a film company. I then did a bit of fashion PR and stuff and then I got into S Club.”
How did you even get involved in the auditioning process to become part of S Club ? ”I was really lucky and I think I was just in the right place at the right time really. They were auditioning people for S Club and my brother worked for a record company at the time and I met him for lunch and that’s when I met these two guys who were producers who worked with 19 Management. So I started working with them and recording stuff in the studio and Simon (Fuller) heard my music, liked it and that was it really. He then asked me to be in the band. I was just really lucky.”
If you weren’t in a band would you consider trying out for ‘American Idol’ or ‘Pop Idol’ ? ”You know what, I can’t honesty answer that. The way I feel now about it, no, I wouldn’t.”
What do you mean by that ? ”I don’t know if I would have done because at that time there wasn’t anything like the reality TV shows that there are now. Like ‘American Idol,’ ‘Pop Idol, ‘Popstars’ and that kind of stuff, so I don’t know. Maybe if I saw it advertised on TV I’d go for it.”
Do you think they’re a good idea ? ”Erm, yeah, yeah I do. I think they make a lot of money and people enjoy watching it as good entertainment. I kinda think that it’s been going on a bit though. There’s so many reality TV shows now that it’s kind of a bit too much, I think personally. I think it’s good for giving people the chance to show what they can do and get the opportunities. I mean, the people that have come out of ‘Pop Idol’ are really talented people and good luck to them.”
What does the ‘S’ stand for in S Club ?! ”The ‘S’ doesn’t really stand for anything in particular. It’s just something that we came up with that the kids could get involved with on the internet. So, they can make it stand for whatever they want it to stand for. We wanted it to become like a club thing, hence the word ‘Club.’”
What does the ‘S’ stand for for you ? ”For me ? Ohh, erm, I don’t know. You know what, it would change every week, I think,” she laughs.
So, it could stand for ‘Steven’s Club’ ?! ”It could be,” she laughs, ”I hadn’t really thought about that one, but it’s kind of more for the kids to think about. It could stand for anything.”
Having hit it big with your first single reaching #1 in ’99, and aside from Paul leaving the band in ’02, how have things changed for the band over the years ? ”Of course, Paul leaving has kind of changed things for us, but we still see Paul so it’s quite nice and we’re all still friends with him. I mean, he’s gone on to do what he wants to do and what’s gonna make him happy, so that’s really great. But it was really strange at first going from seven of us to six of us, because we were always together. But, apart from that I think we’ve just grown up and gone through lots of stuff together and I think we’ve just progressed as times gone on. Things do, they just change. We’ve just grown up slightly and our music is kind of changing with the time also, because we like to try and use different music styles. So, I think that would be the only way we’ve changed really.”
What are you memories of doing ‘S Club in Miami’ and ‘S Club in LA’ ? ”It was brilliant, really brilliant. ‘Miami 7’ was the first thing we ever did together as a band … actually no, I tell a lie. We recorded the album first and then went off to shoot the series. But yeah, it was really good fun and I’ve really good memories of it. It was quite daunting in a way because none of us had ever acted before. So, that was kind of weird, but we just had fun and enjoyed it really. There were lots of fun times.”
Do you guys feel any pressure from the S Club Jnrs. being promoted so close on your heels ? ”There’s no pressure at all. They’re great kids and they’re doing really well and they’re really enjoying it. We helped choose the S Club Jnrs. and I think it was just going to be for them to support us when we were going on tour. But they were so good and really talented I guess Simon just wanted to make them into another little band. I don’t think any of us feel under pressure from them though.”
What annoys you the most about the life you currently live ?”I won’t say it annoys me, but it can be quite – as we are in the public eye – I guess everybody would say the same thing, which is the privacy thing. But then that’s something I knew would come with the job. I can’t say that there’s anything that annoys me, but obviously I have days where I’m not in a great mood and there’s a camera shoved in your face. That’s hard, you know, when you’re not having a good day. Everyone’s human and everyone has bad days or doesn’t feel very good, but you have to kinda perform for the camera, but then that is part of what we have to do."
Is there a ‘cheesy’ S Club song that you’d rather never sing again yet have to ‘cause everyone loves it ?! ”Erm, I’m sure we’ve had some that people would say are cheesy, but our songs like ‘Reach’ and ‘Bring It All Back’ are aimed at a very young audience. But there are songs when I look back on things, I suppose. I mean, when we’re standing up on stage in concert and you see 15,000 to 18,000 people dancing along and singing along to ‘Reach’ and things like that you just think, wow, it really does feel right singing it. But, I mean, there are songs that I prefer more than others. I’d say, one I didn’t love the most was a song called ‘You.’ Yeah, that one I guess, but all our songs have made us what we are so out of all of them I’d say ‘You.’ But ‘Reach’ is a song that people always call cheesy, but I’ve always thought was really fun, and people would say now that it’s one of our anthem songs. If people could put a song to us they would say ‘Reach’ is one of them.”
Is it weird having your last two UK albums (Sunshine & Seeing Double) released over here as just the one compilation album Keep On Movin’ ? ”Erm, I don’t think it’s weird, no. I’m sure other bands have done the same thing. I think they’ve just taken the best of what we thought to be the best of each album.”
Will S Club be coming over to the US to promote this new album ? ”I’d like to. That would be really great if we could, but I’m not quite sure yet because we’ve got so much lined up over here with our movie coming out and our tour as well …. and another album and single ! So, I don’t know how it’s all gonna fit in, but it would be great if it could, yeah, definitely.”
Tell me more about this new album ”Well, we haven’t started recording it yet. I mean, our album Seeing Double has only just come out over here, but there will be another album. So, I guess we’ll start recording that later on this year.”
Tell me more about this new S Club movie, ‘Seeing Double’ ”It’s about us being cloned by an evil scientist, as you do,” she laughs, ”and it’s for the kids and it’s really good fun. We’ve got some really good actors who are in it and we actually filmed it in Barcelona a couple of months ago. That comes out over here in April.”
To see a SNEAK PEEK of the new S Club movie, 'Seeing Double' just click here and be whisked away !
When S Club comes to an end, have you thought about a solo career ? ”Definitely, definitely. I’d love to stay in the music and go solo and do my own stuff, but also I love the acting side as well. So, I’d like to do that and music as well. That would be fantastic.”
Would your music remain ‘pop’ ? ”I love pop music, I have to be honest. I’d like to do different variations of pop music. I just want to learn more. I wanna learn the guitar and then the piano. I like a lot of soul, and R&B, but I guess it all comes under the bracket of pop, really.”
Did you realize that you have more solo calendars and web sites donated to you than any other member of S Club ?!”I don’t look at the internet really, so I haven’t really seen what’s on there and I haven’t really thought about that, really.”
And what about all these solo Rachel Stevens calendars ?! ”No, maybe your thinking of the magazine, FHM ?!”
Nope, I saw, in England last Christmas, a 2003 Rachel Stevens solo calendar on sale ! (Long pause) ”Really ?” she exclaims. ”Oh my gosh, I never knew that. I think a lot of people like bands and artists get a lot of unofficial things released, which, you know, sucks I guess, but no, I never knew that.”
Reveal a secret about yourself ! ”You see, I don’t know ‘cause I don’t have anything that I don’t really talk about. I have lots of stuff and lots of ambitions and lots of things that I’m doing, but I can’t think of one that’s not been told before.”
Do you collect anything then ? (Pause) ”No, not really. Erm, I did start collecting boxes of matches from wherever I went in the world. I guess ‘cause it’s nice to - because we’ve been lucky enough to travel loads – I thought that was something nice to collect from all over the world. And now I’ve got some really different types of boxes, but yeah, other than that, no, not really !”
OK, a quick final burst of True or False:
Your last name isn’t actually Stevens, but is really Stenes ! ”False”
Your nickname is either ‘Ratz’ or ‘Ratzilla’ ! ”True. That’s something that the band came up with, because I used to carry Tic-Tacs in my pocket when we were filming and I used to rattle ! So, they used to call me that because of that !”
Your worst habit is smoking ? ”False. It would probably be that I’m addicted to mints and chewing gum !”
Do you smoke ? ”Erm, I have done.”
You never lock the doors in the toilets ! ”True, yeah, that was once a problem.’ she giggles. ”I don’t like small rooms or enclosed spaces, but it’s not too bad now actually. It was like claustrophobia.”
Finally, what is the most interesting thing to know about Rachel Stevens ? ”Erm, it’s always a hard question things like that really. Er, I really don’t know. There’s all sorts of things that I love, but I definitely want to be successful and carry on doing music career wise. Personal wise, in the future – not right now, obviously – I would like to have a family and have children, I love children. So, yeah, to be happy. My career’s important to me and I want to be successful in music and acting and a lovely family ‘cause I’m a real family person. Oh, and have a lovely husband as well.”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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