Aside from the obvious amazingness of Eternal, our favourite thing about series two of The Big Reunion has been the formation of nineties-cum-noughties supergroup 5th Story. Consisting of Adam Rickitt, Kavana, Dane Bowers, Kenzie off of Blazin’ Squad and Gareth Gates, the guys have provided us with plenty of insight into their post-pop struggles.
I gave Gareth Gates a call to find out more about life in 5th Story, his newly-released greatest hits album and what he makes of today’s generation of reality shows. The formerly spiky-haired star also discusses whether we can expect new material from 5th Story, and explains why he initially said no when the idea was first proposed to him.
Between The Big Reunion and Dancing on Ice you’re certainly very busy at the moment – are you enjoying it all?
Yeah, really enjoying it. I’m coping! I did the Dancing on Ice final the other Sunday and then came up north. We have a week away from the skating, then training for the tour starts next week. It’s good to be involved in not one ITV show but two. It’s a real hectic decision of mine but it’s all going well.I’m in demand which is great!
How does it feel to be back in demand?
Well, for the past twelve years I haven’t stopped working. I had a massive amount of success in the early days as a recording artist: sold five million records, had five number ones, travelled the world and saw lots of different cultures – it was great! Then I went into the world of musical theatre and did some great shows like Joseph, Les Miserables and Legally Blonde, and created a name for myself there. But it’s great being a popstar and being on TV again. I’m embracing that and enjoying it and getting sleep whenever I can!
How was it going back to Dancing on Ice for the last ever series? What was the atmosphere like during the final show?
Well, I first did it in 2008 for series three. I was quite shocked because I finished fourth when I first did it so to be up against former champions was a big old ask! I was the last non-champion in the competition so I was the champion of the non-champions! But when I left it was definitely time for me to leave. I’d more than outstayed my welcome!
And obviously you’re now in The Big Reunion as part of 5th Story. What was your reaction when the idea for the band was first pitched to you?
When they first asked me, I was slightly sceptical. I actually said no at first because joining a band wasn’t really for me, but then I met the rest of the lads and we really enjoyed each other’s company. The lads are all great, we have a lot of banter on and off stage and I thought being in a band with these people wouldn’t be such a bad thing! We’ve no idea whether it will work long term or not but I think we’re all being quite open-minded just seeing what’s thrown at us I guess. If people want it then we’ll pursue the band; if not there’re lots of other things we could be getting on with.
Did you know who else was going to be in the band when you were first approached about it?
Well, at first I didn’t, and I pretty much made up in my mind that it was a no, but then they came back with the people involved. I’ve known Dane Bowers for years so I knew that he was a lovely guy and has a great voice. I agreed to meet the lads and it was great – we just hit it off right from the start and we’re all really good friends now. We just constantly laugh and we kind of mock each other and I think that that’s what it’s about!
Do you guys feel any pressure this time round?
Well I can’t speak on behalf of the rest of the lads, but for me I just wanna have fun with it and just see what happens. I mean it could be big, but if it isn’t then I’ve got lots of things on anyway. We’ll probably go on tour with The Big Reunion and take it from there. And I’m busy doing my own shows for the rest of the year as well – it’s good to be busy I guess!
Dane Bowers said recently that he wants you guys to record together in the future as 5th Story. Are there any plans in the pipeline?
Yeah, I’d love to make an album with the rest of the lads, but for me again it comes back to just seeing what happens. If we do a tour and there’s lots of interest then we’ll absolutely put an album together.
You’ve been very candid on the show about your struggles with fame and the Katie Price fling. Did it feel good to talk about that and give your side of the story?
Absolutely. I hadn’t had that opportunity, so to be given the chance to have my say on TV was quite therapeutic. And I’m sure it was nice for lots of people to hear my side of the story because I’ve never really spoken about it. Yeah, it was great.
Do you think 5th Story are going to get up to any hijinks on the road during The Big Reunion tour?>
I’m sure we will – we’re all lads and we all really enjoy a drink at the end of the night! It will be a mix of that and just looking forward to seeing what response people have to the band. The music’s great and we’re all singing one of our hits so when we combine them all, we have a really good set!
You’ve just released a greatest hits album as well: wat can you tell us about it?
Well, it’s a mixture of my hits and fans favourites – and there’re also three acoustic versions of some brand new tracks that I’ve written. It’s quite heartfelt stuff. It’s a nice sort of mix – it’s quite a good album even if I do say so myself!
You were really part of the first generation of reality show popstars. How do you feel about reality shows like The X Factor and The Voice today? Would you go on those shows again?
I think it’s a great platform for anyone who wants to make it in the business. Pop Idol was the first of its kind and I think that’s why I’ve been as successful as I have been and never stopped working. A few people from that show became household names because of how big it was. The final gripped the nation like I don’t think any other has. I encourage anyone to do it, and I know people criticise the likes of The X Factor and mock it but it’s still creating massive stars like One Direction – the format still works.
The pop scene has changed dramatically since 2002. Do you feel your career would have been a lot different if you had started now in terms of what you could get away with?
Maybe, yeah, but I certainly live with no regrets. I wouldn’t change anything really. Everything made me stronger and a better person if I’m honest. But yeah I think things are a lot looser as it stands now. There are less rules we people have to play by.
As a teenager who became famous, did you find your clean-cut image a bit stifling at times?
Maybe, yeah. Because at that time you thought that anything you did that wasn’t very clean-cut was a bad thing, when actually it probably wasn’t a bad thing at all – it was just what a normal 17 year-old would do. There was a lot of pressure at that time, looking back, I guess.
The Big Reunion 2014 album featuring hits by Gareth Gates, a1, Kavana, Eternal, Damage, Girl Thing and more is out now.