growing pains | 

90s popstars Steps say Lillie’s Bordello was their favourite place in Dublin

“We always loved going to Ireland, and one of our favourite nightclubs in Dublin was Lillie’s Bordello,” Claire says

Steps are celebrating their 25 years in pop with the release of The Platinum Collection.

Eddie RowleySunday World

Five years on from staging one of the most successful comebacks of the decade, Steps are celebrating their 25 years in pop with the release of The Platinum Collection.

The album is packed full of their greatest hits from 1997 to 2022, and in an exclusive interview with Sunday World’s Shuffle the British group this week looked back on their rollercoaster ride.

“Claire was in a band that supported Boyzone on their first theatre tour,” Ian ‘H’ Watkins reveals as he talks about their Irish connections.

“We always loved going to Ireland, and one of our favourite nightclubs in Dublin was Lillie’s Bordello. We had some great nights there,” says Claire, who also recalls that one of the highlights of their career was being part of the MTV Awards in Dublin back in 1999.

In their heyday, Steps, famous for their catchy tunes and distinctive dance moves, were rarely off our TV screens, strutting their stuff on entertainment shows with smash hits such as 5, 6, 7, 8

“It was fantastic for us because we are an incredibly visual band. Every time we did a TV show, our single would jump up the charts,” Faye Tozer says.

“For each single we would do 20 or 30 TVs, which allowed us to perform and interact with the audience, and there isn’t that anymore. So we’re really lucky that that there were so many TV shows for pop music when we were starting out. If it hadn’t been for that maybe we wouldn’t be here now.

“Even though there are a million more TV channels than there were in those days, the music performance opportunities aren’t as many.”

H recalls that on one occasion when Steps were appearing on Top Of The Pops, Madonna was also on the show and she sent an assistant to get their autographs for her daughter. “We never actually got to meet her, but we did watch her rehearse,” the pop idol reveals.

It was 21 years ago that Steps announced their split after H and Claire resigned leaving fans around the world heartbroken. They reunited in 2011 for a Sky TV documentary.

“The break-up is part of our history and we’ve learned from that,” H says. “We’ve grown and we’re back together stronger than ever and celebrating 25 years. Not many bands can boast that achievement.”

Faye says: “There was just so much love out there for Steps. The fans wanted us to come back and do tours and we were happy to deliver. Back in the day it was all teenagers at our shows, now they’re coming along with their own children and in some cases grandchildren.”

Lee Latchford-Evans chips in to point out: “We’ve been together longer now than the first time around.”

Steps were one of the hardest working band in pop during their high-flying years and Claire says they needed a break by the time they split.

“If you had a bit of success you had to keep on the treadmill and keep going, and you can’t sustain that workload for a long period of time,” she reflects.

“I do like to think that the 10 years we were away was what we needed to discover who we were as people and as adults and as individuals, because we didn’t know…I certainly didn’t know who I really was in the early part of my 20s.

“Knowing what you want when you realise what you don’t want, it’s easier to figure out what you want to do. Hopefully all five of us knew that we wanted to be part of Steps and we are all here by absolute choice now. We love what we do and we enjoy every single second of it.”

STEPS’ new album, The Platinum Collection, is out now and includes all their biggest hits, including Heartbeat/Tragedy and Stomp, plus huge comeback singles Scared Of The Dark and What The Future Holds.

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