TWENTY years ago Steps were everywhere.

You couldn’t turn on the TV or listen to the radio without the distinctive sound of the poppy five-piece.

For a golden five-year period they had 13 consecutive top five hits and three number one albums before the band split in 2001.

Now, after a triumphant return to the charts last year with the album Tears on the Dancefloor and sold out arena tour, Steps are preparing for a very special summer including a headline appearance at Colchester’s Castle Park.

“It’s going to be fantastic,” says Lee Latchford-Evans. “At an outdoor event you get a very different crowd and a very different atmosphere but you are still going to get a great Steps show.

"There will be all the flashes and bangs, the spectacle and sparkle and the music the fans know. Hopefully we’re known for putting on a good show – it’s going to be a great night out.”

Lee along with fellow band members Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer, Claire Richards and Ian ‘H’ Watkins briefly got back together in 2011, primarily for a TV documentary which spawned a subsequent greatest hits tour, but he admits that with last year’s reunion the band were taking a leap into the unknown.

“In 2011 it was all very much about nostalgia,” he adds. “But last year we wanted to bring out new music and the challenge was to see if we could fit into the pop world of today which is very different to how it was back in the day.

“We just decided to be true to who we are. We knew there were great writers and producers out there who could help us create something that was very much Steps but also fit into today’s pop world.


The band pictured at the height of their success

“We took a massive risk,” he continues. “We were apprehensive, we weren’t sure it was going to work. We weren’t even sure that people were going to want it 20 years on to be honest.

"We know fans love the old stuff, it’s been proven. But the new material, we thought, ‘Oh God, we’re from 20 years ago, the charts have changed, how they buy it has changed, how it charts but wow were we proven wrong!

“We had a huge sell out arena tour and a number two album.”

Lee said that the band’s success vindicated their decision not to take the easy route back.

“We thought ‘we can’t do the nostalgia again because it’s unfair’. It would almost be like us going ‘let’s just make some money’ but the fans deserve more than that.

“Plus for ourselves it was a challenge to see if we could produce new music.”

For all their massive success, both first time around and with Tears on the Dancefloor, Lee believes that Steps have never really had the credit they deserve.

“I think the world needs a bit of light-hearted fun,” he says, “Steps always brought that. We’ve got upbeat music, we like having a great time, we just want the audience to join in with us, forget their worries for a while and just have a bit fun, and that’s what we want to bring back.

“Even from the early days, you either loved us or you hated us,” he adds, “we were a bit like Marmite. You either got what we were about and you really let yourself go and enjoyed it or you just didn’t.

"And that’s fair enough, everybody has their own individual taste.


Each bandmate is known for their individual style

“What annoys me is there are people within the industry who still just put us down.

“If you don’t think what we do is cool in your world that’s fine but there are millions of people who do.

“But what you can’t deny are the stats. I don’t see how people can slate something when there are maybe 21 million record sales around the world. Let’s be honest, not everyone can say that.

“We were possibly one of the biggest arena touring acts of the year and we had a number two album. We must be doing something right.”

Lee said that although the line-up remain the same, Steps 2018 remain a far different band to the one that first burst onto the scene with 5, 6, 7, 8.

“We got together after an audition,” says Lee. “We didn’t know each other beforehand. For a lot of the time in that whirlwind five years we were still getting to know each other

“Back in the day when the band kicked off it was pretty much 24/7.

“Everything was was very much 90 miles an hour. We couldn’t say ‘let’s not do that’.

"When you have a big machine behind you one thing just leads to another and before you know it, you’re going from one country to the next, everything’s organised for you and you just can’t get off. We’re a lot more in control nowadays.

“Time has gone by, we are all grown up now and you do look at the world differently.

“I think we do understand each other a lot more and we also understand the need to give each other space and to give each other time to take the pressure off and put the brakes on when needed.

“We’ve got families now and we’re all a bit older. You learn what’s important in life. We’ve made it work for everyone’s situation.

"We can’t be 24/7 any more, that’s just not possible.”

The Summer of Steps concert takes place at Colchester’s Castle Park next Saturday, June 16, when not only is there a chance to see the chart topping five-piece, but also a support line-up made-up of boy band Blue, X Factor and Finland’s Eurovision Song Contest entry, Saara Aalto, and the original tribute band to Abba, Bjorn Again.

For tickets and more information, click here.