Blue interview: 'We'd never say never to another Attitude naked shoot!'
The boys from Blue are back. And this time, it seems, they're serious. It's hard to believe it's four years since their initial reunion, but after individual and collective stints on Strictly, Celebrity Big Brother and The Big Reunion, the boys have landed a major new record deal with Sony and have just released their fifth studio album Colours ahead of a 16-date tour around the UK later this month.
A mixture of new fresh new material and old soul covers, Colours is a more grown-up offering from the boys, a full decade and a half since they burst onto the music scene. But despite their organic new sound, Duncan, Lee, Simon and Antony show no signs of losing their characteristic spark - as is made abundantly clear as our chat rapidly descends into something approaching chaos. Read on to find out what just what happens on tour, which fellow Attitude Naked Issue star Dunc has the hots for, and what the boys make of the various pros and cons and getting a 'ball tuck'...
So you’re back with your fifth album, what’s the process been like getting back to this point?Simon: Well we always wanted to do another album, but it was always about timing and we were all doing individual stuff, but we got a call from the legendary [producer] Brian Rawling. It was fantastic. We had a meeting with him and he said he loved our vocals and would like to produce it, it was a quick and easy as that!
Duncan: He sat us down and said ‘I want to bring you guys back to your roots and what you guys do best; the songs you do best,’ and we just looked at each other and were like ‘Brilliant mate’. We did a couple of weeks of writing camps and what was coming out as those camps organically just started to pave the way of where the album was going to go. We wrote loads of songs in that time and of those six are on the album, so we’ve definitely got six of the best along with the covers. So there you’ve got it, Blue: Colours.
Getting involved with writing and with a more organic sound, were there any personal struggles that you drew from for the record?Lee: I don’t think this album is a self-loathing or depressing album in any way, and I think if we wanted to go deep into that aspect of Blue – Simon: – No one would buy it! [laughs]
Lee: Yeah, it’s not what Blue’s about. There are songs about breakups and stuff people can relate to, but us talking about our own problems, any ‘why we’re so pissed off with being famous’ – I don’t think anyone would really understand. We wanted to take the album back to the sound of the old Blue, with a lot more simple production and more organic sound.
Simon: it’s very easy listening.
There’s been so many early noughties reunions over the last few years, but do you guys see yourselves very much as a current band? Is this an album for old fans or new?Antony: I think it’s a bit of both. Fans that have grown with us over the years, but we’ve also got some new fans from the reality shows, the Strictly or Blue Go Mad in Ibiza, so for us it’s about people riding the Blue wave and enjoying it.
Simon: I think the last album, Roulette, that was about where we fit into the industry, whereas this album’s more what we want to do. I think sometimes you forget because of social media and you’re so in touch with your fans, you forget why they were your fans in the first place, and that’s because you did what you did in the first place. So we wanted to go back to what we do.
As you mentioned it’s a mixture of new material and covers – how did you go about deciding what you wanted to cover?Antony: Jukebox Costa mate! We went for a bunch of old-school songs. A lot of covers we’ve done are related to why we became a band, because of that Motown sound. They’re proper classic tunes like If You Don’t know me By now, Johnny Bristol’s Hang On In There Baby – proper classic tunes that we’ve put our own stamp on, and I hope we’ve done people proud.
Duncan: We covered a track by Eric Benét which was never really a big hit over here, but it was in the States, and I played it to a couple of my friends out there and they were like ‘Yo, you guys need to get over here, we don’t have guys that sing like you, this is dope man’. So people that have never heard of Blue have said they can’t believe that we’ve never transitioned across with our vocals. They were really complimentary which is really nice to hear.
Lee: I think people are always quite shocked when they hear us live, because there’s a difference between recording a great record and actually singing live as a band. And having been solo artists, you don’t have to have that blend with the intricate harmonies that we do. And we don’t just stick, we all swap parts.
Duncan: We’re versatile, sweetheart!
And both professionally and personally, how different does it feel a second time around as opposed to 15 years ago?Antony: You can’t become complacent in this business. For us, we’re looking at ourselves as a new band and people knowing us now, with a ‘second’ album. Some people don’t even know we’re back! It’s changed so much because back in the day you had CD:UK and Top of the Pops, you were in peoples’ houses, whereas now there’s so much choice, there’s YouTube... So we have to look at ourselves as a new band, it’s different, it’s changed. I mean, originally we had tapes!
You’ve got a big new tour coming up too, are you looking forward to getting back out on the road?Simon: We’re looking forward to Duncan taking his top off! [laughs]
Lee: [Gesturing to himself] If they want to come see a nice fat belly then come have a look! [laughs]
Simon: Yeah we’re looking forward to getting out there – this is what we live for. Going on tour is the end of the journey of making an album. There’s nothing better than giving the mic to fans and having them sing your words back to you because it means something to them.
What are the old songs you still love to perform?Duncan: I love doing Fly By, that always goes down really well.
Lee: One Love always goes down well too, it’s an anthem for us and one of our biggest hits.
Any that drive you mad?Lee: We don’t do songs we don’t enjoy singing. I think I’d like to do more songs off the old albums that weren’t singles that you forget about. Walking Through Leaves was a great song. But this album’s sound is quite specific ‘cos I think we’ll have to choose songs that fit that style for the show.
Are you guys as wild on the road as you were back in the day, or are you a bit more sedate these days?Simon: We’re a lot more chilled now – but it is touring so what goes on the road stays on the road! [laughs]
Duncan: There were some funny incidents that happened on the last tour – actually I’m not even going to say that for the record. But Lee, you remember what I’m trying to get to, when I was in that bunk and you were in the back room? And I came out and was ‘Oop!’
Duncan: You don’t even have to say anything, it’s happened so many times!
Lee: I can’t remember!
Antony: ANYWAY... Colours is a great album! [laughs]
Obviously Duncan’s just appeared on our Naked Issue, so we thought we’d bring a copy for you guys...Antony: Wheyyyy, Duncan!
Duncan: I haven’t actually seen it yet!
Lee: Is this the new one?
You guys all posed naked together for us a few years back – I'm sure people will wanna know whether you’d be up for it again...Simon: We’d never say never! We’re Blue so you never know what we’re gonna do. It was fun doing it that day, and I’m glad everyone liked –
Duncan: [Still looking at issue] Oh my god, I’ve got my fucking arse out!
Oh, looks like we’ve lost Duncan...Duncan: I’m just looking at people I know! Look, there’s Andy Newton Lee naked! I know him, that’s crazy! [laughs] I’m like, ‘Andy. What you doing?!’
So we have to ask – Duncan: Oh he’s quite sexy, who’s that?
James Hill from The Apprentice.Duncan: Oh is he? He’s hot... I need to put this down, it’s distracting me!
Lee: Stop having a perv! Oh an advert for Love is Strange, that film looks really good. Sorry, what are we talking about?
Simon: Look what you’re doing to him!
Duncan: I’d have loved to have done a shoot with the boys, and I hope we can do another, because that shoot was great! It was nice for us all to get naked and be as one together! They made the room nice and hot as well which was nice, so everything was nice and –
Duncan: You sweat a bit, your balls hang a bit lower... [laughs]
Lee: The thing is, your balls never stop dropping, that’s the only thing! As you get older, they’re just swinging – they’ll end up down by your knees.
Lee: Apparently so!
Simon: God that’s awful.
Duncan: Can you have a ball operation to make them smaller?
Lee: I suppose you could, but I don’t know if I’d do that, have a ball tuck.Simon: Ahh don’t be messin’ with your piece, man.
Lee: It’s not the piece, it’s the ball innit, it’s just making them –
Simon: But still man, that’s your area!
Lee: Yeah, but imagine if you were having to walk up the stairs backwards because they’re drooping! [laughs]
So this is what we’ve got to look forward to in the Attitude Naked Issue 2050!Simon: [laughs] That’s how we’ll celebrate 50 years of Blue!
Blue's new album Colours is out now. Watch the video for lead single King of the Worldbelow:More stories:Duncan James discusses Blue’s plans for ‘kinky’ tell-all bookDuncan James, Lee Ryan go shirtless in new Blue video