2017 has been a huge year for Steps, as they’ve just come to the end of their huge sell-out arena tour. This year has also seen them release a certified-gold album, Tears on the Dancefloor. A few weeks ago we caught up with Lee to chat about the tour, and upcoming summer gigs on the GRANDSLAM 2018: SUMMER OF STEPS 2018 tour.
Where abouts are you today?
It’s a good question! We’re in Birmingham, today and then I think tomorrow we’re in Manchester.
As it’s the 20th anniversary of Steps this year, is there any stand out moments from the 20 years?
We’ve done quite a few things, but the one that stands out is winning a Brit award. I don’t think many people can say that they’ve done that, and to have that is quite phenomenal.
Let’s be honest we’re a bit like marmite (you either love us or hate us!) But we’ve done our thing and we’re not shameful about it, we’re proud of it, we are what we are. With Steps people can let themselves go and truly be themselves, you don’t have to worry about what society thinks. Back in that day the industry was trying to be cool, so to win a Brit award was quite a big deal.
When Tears on the Dancefloor came out, it went silver in the first three weeks, was that also quite a big achievement for you?
Yeah definitely, we chatted about new music and we weren’t sure if it was the right thing to do.
Our old music was very successful, we had sell-out arena tours, number one singles and albums – and we’re very proud of that. But, you jump to 20 years later – and look at the industry now, it’s so different, there’s so many charts out there – what’s a download? What’s a stream? All these things just didn’t exist when we were originally about. So we were concerned if our new music would be accepted, if it would fit in with today’s music – and if there were there still people that really wanted it, or who just wanted the nostalgia of the past.
We took the risk, worked with great producers and songwriters to create a sound that I think does fit with today’s music, but is still what we’re about.
As this new album has been so successful would you say it’s your favourite album or would it be one of the older ones?
Yeah it’s weird, I’m funny, I don’t have any favourite albums as such, I think if you said a song from the past, it’s The Way You Make Me Feel. It’s a really nice song, and when it first came out it didn’t sound like Steps, but now it’s one we’re famous for. It’s actually quite a mature sound for Steps, and one of my favourite songs of all time.
From the new album I really like Neon Blue, there’s something about it that’s very cool but very twee, I can imagine hearing it on an American High School Movie soundtrack – I actually co-directed the video, and made my directing debut. The song is a blend of the past and the new and we’re making it work.
So how is your sell-out arena tour going at the moment?
It’s amazing, we’ve been accepted and embraced again. We’ve got old fans, and new fans – as they’re bringing their children along. People are saying it’s the best show they’ve ever seen, which is surprising because we’ve always put on a good show. It’s great that we’re still managing to make it even better. We have all the old hits that bring the nostalgia, and the new songs shake it up and heighten it. It’s a non-stop 2 hour show, and with social media we get an instant reaction, with the photos and comments. Fans are saying it’s the best show they’ve ever seen – so we’re doing something right!
Is Tragedy you’re favourite song to perform, or do you prefer performing the new stuff like Neon Blue?
I don’t have an actual favourite that I think oh I can’t wait to perform that. I have a few I really like; Neon Blue, Dancing with a Broken Heart, Tragedy. It’s always a showstopper, it’s everyone’s favourite, and it’s probably our most famous track.
For the show we’ve embraced the (Tragedy) video, in the video the girls are getting married and me and H are trying to stop them. I actually open Tragedy in the show, and start off on the top of this wedding cake looking like I’m about to get married. I’ve got to dance up there and actually get quite scared on top, it feels like the whole stage is shaking. I’m thinking really, do we have insurance? But, it’s a great moment, and the fans love it.
There’s a few tracks in the show that are amazing. There’s a bit where we just chill out, and get the audience to sing back to us with some ballads. The show takes you on a journey which is what I think a show should do. You walk in forgetting your troubles and walk out thinking that was amazing, when can I buy my next ticket?
You’re touring with a band from a similar era, the Vengaboys, how is that?
The vengabus is coming! They’re really fun actually, they gave us hats with ‘Boom Boom Boom’ on which was sweet. My family love the Vengaboys, my brother-in-law was absolutely ecstatic when he found out they were coming down. They’re a great opening act for what we’re about, and it’s a perfect fit. We used to meet them when we toured around Europe, so we know them from way back in the day. And, we’re all roughly similar ages, they’ve been going for around the same amount of time. Y’know it’s very similar music, and, dare I say it, some of their songs are cheesier than ours. They’re Euro pop, they’ve got tracks that the audience love, and they do a really good job.
What can fans expect for your tour next year?
Well next year we’ve got the summer tour, which is fantastic, and we’re being supported by Aqua and Blue. So fans can expect a similar tour to the arena one, but definitely not exactly the same, as that wouldn’t be fair. We’ll put in some songs that we haven’t done on this tour to make it different and special.
We want to do a good show for people, we want the dancers, and the stage effects. We really want to make it a great show and experience, and show people what steps are about.
The fact that we are the headliner over Blue and Aqua is just phenomenal in itself. It’s going to be a great night out for anybody that wants to have a bit of pop fun!
Do you have any plans to release any new music next year?
At the moment we don’t have any plans set in stone on what we’re going to do, or when. We’ve already set up this tour for next year, which we didn’t expect to get, if we want to keep this going we’ve got to look at doing some new music, which seems to be wanted by the fans, it seems embraced and people are loving it, and maybe even a Christmas/Winter tour in the future, maybe in a year, maybe in 2 years, maybe in 3. Let’s just see how the next year goes!
Get tickets to see Steps live in 2018 here (Blue and Aqua playing select dates only, check individual listings).