Hello Paul. How are you?
I’m good, I’m alright thanks!
A1 have the Boys Are Back Tour coming up in February and March next year; touring the country alongside Five, 911 and Damage. Are you looking forward to the tour, and what can fans expect?
I’m really looking forward to the tour. As far as the pop industry goes, I’ve been out of the picture for quite a long time; so I didn’t really know many of the guys. Now I’ve met some of them at recent gigs that we’ve played. Everyone is older and more chilled out now; so yes, it will be lovely to hang out on tour. I think we’ve got quite a short set of around twenty-five minutes, so it’s just going to be all the songs that the fans want and all of the hits. We’ve not actually sorted the set out yet, so it will be in the New Year when we get working on that.
There has been a lot of 90s and early 00s artists that have reformed during the last five years or so for reunion shows. It is lovely to see, especially for those who may have been a little too young to catch you touring the first time around. Is touring now much the same to how it used to be back then, or has it changed drastically?
Everything is so much easier now. Like I said, when I’ve met some of our peers at gigs recently, everyone’s very chilled out. There’s not a lot of pressure on us any more; we haven’t got the likes of record companies breathing down our necks. We used to have to do eighteen hour days sometimes! It’s definitely more relaxing, and that is fun and we love doing our jobs.
Speaking of a dose of nostalgia; I’d imagine that you might have crossed paths with some of your Boys Are Back Tour mates in the past at the likes of the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party or the Brit Awards. Do you have any fun memories or stories about anyone else from the Boys Are Back tour from back then?
Do you know what?… I don’t really have memory of what I did back then, let alone anyone else! I can remember that we did one thing for MTV; a five-night stand. It was a really big thing, because it was one of the first things that Hear’say did, and they were massive at the time. That was also one of the first times that we had ever done a show with Five. I remember watching them and thinking that they were really good. That has actually reminded me of something else now! When we were on one of our first promo tours of Australia, Five were already really established. They were touring there at the same time, and invited us to go and see them. We got to hang out with them in their green room for a little while and have a chat, and they were really nice. They saw us as an up-and-coming band, so they looked after us and put us on the front seats for an amazing show.
It’s nice to hear that there is a sense of camaraderie between the different bands…
Yes; I think it is even more so now too. People aren’t jostling for chart positions and there isn’t the press winding people up; or people’s press officers winding both the press and bands up. There was a lot of friendly rivalry going on back then. It’s so different now, it’s just amazing. Take for example Damage. They’ve always been good, but I’d never actually seen much of them live until recently when we performed in Ibiza. In Ibiza, I watched their entire set and they are amazing. Their live vocals are absolutely outstanding and I was extremely impressed by them. It also helps that they are really nice as well! Andre walked over to me and gave me a massive hug and was like ‘Welcome back!’; so that was lovely.
Last month A1 did their 20th anniversary reunion tour at several venues across the UK. You’ve been back together as a band for a little while now, but was it enjoyable to be back together to do a full tour?
The first tour that I when I rejoined A1 was in October last year, and it was in Asia. I was actually still working at the time; so I did the tour, and then went back to work. I really enjoyed it though. We are used to going to Asia and having a big crowd there, just for us. However; to do our own gigs in the UK and have a room full of A1 fans; that was mind-blowing. It was some of the best gigs that I have ever performed in my whole life. It was lovely to have our own fans in the UK coming to see our shows.
Most of the tour dates sold out very quickly. I went to the Birmingham concert at the O2 Academy 2 and it was packed out. Did the success of the tour surprise you?
We put three dates on to begin with; London, Manchester and Birmingham. Those sold out in four minutes! Beforehand, we were thinking that selling out of tickets in two weeks would be really good. If we managed that, we could think about doing something else next year, or in a couple of years’ time. Then it sold out that quickly, and we could not believe it. It was incredible and it really shocked us. In the band WhatsApp group and we were just like, “Oh my god!”. We knew we had a fanbase here, but for everyone to clamour for the tickets that quickly; it made us so proud.
Clearly after the success of this tour, the demand is still out there for the band. Will you be coming back for another A1 tour in the UK next year?
I’d absolutely love to. I’d like to do a slightly longer tour, with slightly bigger venues. However; we’d have to see what we’re doing. We are saturating the country so much with the Boys Are Back Tour, and we have engagements elsewhere in the world this year too; we’ve got Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and I think we’re going to a few places in South East Asia again too. It’s not just about having the time for the tour; it’s about having the time to do something different for the fans too. We’d like to make it that little bit extra special. It might take a few months to get something absolutely perfect; but we would definitely would like to do something in the UK again next year, or in early 2021.
Would you ever consider doing a tour over here with a full live band, like you sometimes do in Norway?
It is something we’ve been talking about recently. It’s all to do with production costs, and how many dates there are. As this last tour was only for four dates, a band for four dates would be too expensive. In Norway, we use the exact same band for everything that we do over there. They’ve rehearsed it time and time again, and we can go over there for a two-hour set and they know everything. It would be great to do something like that over here, and we would love to up the ante production-wise. Next time will be a next step up, and that is definitely something worth thinking about.
You mentioned during the tour that the band are working on a new album, and even premiered a new track for fans. Do you know when the album will be released, and what can fans expect from it musically?
At the moment, we’ve got about seven or eight songs that we are definitely putting on the album. We’re trying to decide on how many tracks to have. I think it’ll be about eleven or twelve, but we’re still trying to find these extra songs. We want it to be a perfect album to showcase where we are now. We wanted to complete it before the Boys Are Back tour, but that’s not realistic. It’s all about how much time we get to spend together. I think realistically, we’re now aiming for mid-2020. We don’t want to rush it. If we get a song that we’re unsure about, we don’t want to just stick it on the album as a filler; we’d rather write a better track instead.
The Boys Are Back tour has four different bands playing. If you were curating your own concert or tour and could choose any four artists, living or dead; who would you choose?
Well, I can only go for people I’ve seen, or people I love. I’m going to go for some from very different genres. Prince, Outcast, Aerosmith…. Arghhh, I wish I had five bands.
Ok, you can have five!
Ok! I add Guns ‘n’ Roses and Marilyn Manson!
Wow, that’s an interesting line-up; lots of different genres in there! That would be pretty cool.
Yeah. I would have put Lenny Kravitz and Jimmy Hendrix in there too; but I didn’t have enough space.
It would have to be a festival…
Yes, it would be a thirty day festival if I put all the bands that I like on!
The Boys Are Back Tour runs from February – March 2020, all across the UK.
For the ultimate slice of 90s nostalgia, make sure to get your tickets before they sell out!