I AM thrilled to exclusively reveal that Steps will return tomorrow with euphoric dance tune What The Future Holds.
Claire Richards, Lisa Scott-Lee, Ian “H” Watkins, Faye Tozer and Lee Latchford-Evans staged the most successful comeback of the decade when they returned with a No2 album and 22-date sell-out arena tour in 2017.
But they were unsure whether they could top such unexpected success — until global superstar Sia handed them the new single to record.
It will be the first track from their sixth album of the same name.
Sitting down with Bizarre to announce their comeback, Claire said: “We were like, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing’.
“We’d had such a massive success with our last album Tears On The Dancefloor that this second stage of our reunion, we’ve just taken each day as it comes really.
“There wasn’t a ten-year plan. We had that album, we were going to do it, see how it went and make the decision if we wanted to do it again.”
Lisa added: “And to see if people wanted us again, which they did, which is lovely.”
On Sia, who has had countless hits and written for Britney Spears, Rihanna and Beyonce, Claire explained: “She wrote the track for herself but realised it wasn’t really for her and gave it to us.
“It’s not like it was in the bottom of a drawer somewhere. It was her who said, ‘We should give this to Steps because it would really suit them’.”
Lisa continued: “I am such a huge Sia fan. Her music is completely up my street, I have so much admiration for her as an artist and a songwriter so I’m in pop heaven.
“It has got back to us that she is a Steps fan and also that she has Steps on her playlists, which is great.”
I can also reveal the band pulled the plug on the surprise release of the single six months ago, just as the UK went into lockdown.
Despite knowing the world needed some much-needed Steps joy, they had to press pause so Lisa could get home to Dubai, where she now lives with her husband and kids, to avoid being stuck in the UK.
Faye explained: “It was really hard because it was literally the day after lockdown that we were going to start the whole campaign.
“We had a call from the record company in America saying, ‘We need to make a choice, either it goes ahead or it doesn’t’.
“It was so hard because we’d worked so hard to get this whole project together, make it sound perfect. We were really ready and suddenly it was like, ‘Don’t say anything!’”
They’ve had to keep schtum on the video too, which is already shot. Lisa teased: “We’ve got an amazing dance routine, a really good one.”
H joked: “Lisa looks great in it because they’ve really airbrushed her.”
The single is sure to get their millions of fans excited for their album, which will be out on November 27, just in time for Christmas.
Faye said: “The album is a little bit more intimate, which is fitting for the times because we can’t go out and jump around together quite yet.
“It’s a little bit more reflective and feels a bit more personal.”
Claire continued: “There’s much more of a mixture, with a nod to Steps back in the day.”
Now they are hoping their return will help lighten the mood of the nation after such a turbulent year.
Lisa said: “I know it’s been such a tough time for everybody all over the world, but I do think it’s time to smile again and Steps are very good at that. We’re going to be sprinkling some happiness.”
HE made history as one half of telly’s first same-sex couples by competing in Dancing On Ice with a male partner.
Now H is urging the ITV competition to continue to be a trailblazer for the LGBTQ community – by signing up a transgender contestant.
He believes the move is vital, as it was his casting that encouraged Strictly Come Dancing to feature its first same-sex partnership, which will feature boxer Nicola Adams in the upcoming series.
H, who partnered with pro Matt Evers, said: “Everyone knew it was going to be two girls on Strictly this year because we did it in Dancing On Ice last year .
“I messaged the Dancing On Ice producers telling them they should get a trans contestant.
“We need to embrace all of those minorities so we can become one whole fabulous community.”
H took his brave stance despite being horrified by online trolling over same-sex couples taking part in the telly competitions.
He continued: “There’s some really f***ing nasty people around. The messages of hate are just still awful in this day and age.”
And after H’s stint on Dancing On Ice, Lee has called for ITV bosses to get in touch with him for I’m A Celebrity . . .
Lee said: “I’d like to do the jungle. I’d eat anything. I’ll jump out of a plane. But they want people screaming for it to be good TV.”
On the prospect of stripping for the jungle shower, hunk Lee added: “I’ll do that.”
But he wants to wait until the show returns to Oz, rather than a wet North Wales.
He joked: “You won’t be having any tops off there, it’ll be woolly jumpers.”
STEPS have the next 18 months planned out, with their single, album and tour, but band members have been busy in other ways.
Glamorous Faye took up an unlikely new hobby during lockdown.
She said: “Me and my son Benjamin, who’s 11, have taken up golf, which has been really fun.
“We’ve been doing it for about three months now and we’re not too bad.”
And she’s not the only sporty one – Lee is planning to flex his muscles after qualifying as a personal trainer.
He has spent lockdown preparing to create his own fitness firm.
He said: “It gave me time to sit back and focus.”
SOPHIE Ellis-Bextor will join Steps on their 14-date What The Future Holds tour — but you’ll have to wait a year to see them.
She kept fans entertained in lockdown with her live-streamed Kitchen Disco karaoke sessions, and she will be bringing a similarly upbeat set as their support act.
Faye said: “It’s so exciting to have Sophie on board.”
The tour will kick off at Sheffield’s FlyDSA Arena on November 2, next year with 14 shows across the UK before it wraps on December 1 at Bournemouth’s International Centre.
Tickets go on sale next Friday, September 18.
THEY are the only Nineties pop sensations to still be having success with all of their original members and they credit that to . . . drinking gin.
Asked about the secret to sticking together – despite a ten-year hiatus from 2001 to 2011 – H said bluntly: “Lots of gin.”
Claire continued: “We’re just drunk all the time now.”
But jokes aside, H reckons it is a mark of the friendships they forged when they reunited again.
He explained: “We’re the only band still doing it from our era who still have the original members.
“Even Spice Girls didn’t have all of the originals, Take That have gone down to, well, it’s just Gary Barlow now probably.
“We’re the only ones still crazy enough and still friends enough to keep going.”
Faye added: “We’ve stuck to the real pop that we started with.
“We haven’t tried to change and it’s lovely to be unapologetic these days.”
STEPS are looking to mark 25 years since they burst on to the scene with hit single 5, 6, 7, 8 in a typically flamboyant way.
They want to organise a Steps cruise for the anniversary in 2022.
Faye said: “How fun would that be?
“We could all have different rooms. Claire could have a kitchen doing Pasta a la Clara, H could do arts and crafts, Lee could do his gym sessions, I’ll do make-up lessons and Lisa would teach dancing.”
With 14 Top Ten singles and more than 20million record sales, Steps do not plan on stopping anytime soon.
Lee said: “We’ve already got next year practically planned.”
Faye added: “We are all fit and healthy and looking fab, so there’s no reason why not.”
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