Legendary English Man-band 911 chat exclusively to MarkMeets, the talented trio consisting of Lee Brennan, Jimmy Constable and Simon "Spike" Dawbarn formed in 1995 who had ten UK top 10 singles and sold over 10 million records worldwide.
With a new single, album and tour on the way, the lads have a catch up to talks about it all. They also chat about Take That, One Direction and JLS.
First up is JIMMY:
You formed in 1995, did you imagine 18 years after you would still be performing?
No, I think when we started in 1995, I never thought we would still be together a couple of years later cos we had no guaranteed in the beginning. We were very humble to realise that if we could get through a year we would be very lucky so 18 years down the line is absolutly incredible, and even after the fact that we split up the first time round - I don;t think any of us ever imagained that we would be together again and certainly not doing a new album aswell.
How did you find time to record the new album?
We decided that we were going to go to Glasgow to do it as that was where we all started, and John McClaughin who we began, we wanted to write with the whole team. We travelled to Glasgow 3 days a week for 10 weeks solid and obviously I've got 2 kids and a wife at home. The media side and the promo stuff with the big reunion was all hard work but fingers crossed it's all worthwhile.
The album literaly came together last week and it's out on the 8th, so we are blessed.
The album is out on my birthday so I'm gonna be getting a copy!
Oh great! It's interesting time as we've been in the music business a long time and know how it all works. Even to this day we still become very nervous as we don't know if people are going to like the album, if they are gonna want to hear new material. The songs that we've written we had feedback and they love the whole album package. Fingers crossed we'll see what happens.
Social media is a massive promotional tool for new bands though for you it was Saturday morning TV, do you miss all that?
I certainly miss is a way that we had a very good relationship with these people when Ant & Dec used to do CD UK and we did alot of Saturday morning TV. In the old days we used to have to print of 10,000 flyers and get them out to people for them to know when your album is out or when you're doing something, these days everyone can know withing seconds with Twitter and Facebook. I do miss the old TV stuff as there's not alot of TV to do these days, it's more now just Daybreak, The Alan Carr show and stuff like that, there's no Saturday morning TV but social media has turned the whole music business around I think.
Do you get more nervious Jimmy talking on live TV or performing?
No, not all all. I don't think any of us...I think Spike probably get's abit nervous as I don't know if he's overcome that. I think when you've done so many years in the music business it's your job, it's what you do. If you perform to 10,000 people in an arena you get anxiety I suppose but not in a nervous way as you just want the show to go right. We've been in the game for too many years to let it affect us but we still enjoy it.
On the new album, did you do any song writing?
We wrote the whole album. We got together with John McClaughin and created this song writing team. Some of the songs on the album we wrote in the hotel we were staying in at the time. Songs can come in very strange places and times but from a writing point of view we've written a whole album and the whole package. It's great for us, not because of the PR side of it but it's job satisfaction aswell. Some of the nights that we were in the studio we never left til four in the morning. The birds were singing when we came out. It was very tiring and hard work but thankfully we think that we've come up with a great album.
If 911 were starting off today which other boybands would you compare yourselves too?
It's really wwird this time around cos competition doesn't really come into it anymore, especially for us cos we are known as a man band. You'be obviously got the young fresh faced guys like 'One Direction' who have done an amazing job, great songs. We would have to compare ourselves to Take That just because of the man-band thing. There older guys doing it a second timearound but Take That are on such a massive scale compared to us.
You have got your own areana tour coming up, have you planned any surpises?
We haven't got any plans for the tour yet. We have spoken about it and said the things that we want to do. From a fitness point of view we're all in the gym everyday to ensure that we keep fit mainly because we're alot older than the young boybands these days. We have to keep ourselves fit.
With regards to the tour within the next month or so we'll be sitting down putting some ideas together with what we want to do on the tour.
I would guess it would be around the title track of the album which is called "Illuminate", we'll obviously play some heavy in the tour so probably in 6 weeks time we'll at the drawing board discussing plans and ideas as to what we are going to do for the tour.
Your new single is called "Two hearts one love" why did you choose this one?
The funny thing with 'Two hearts one love' is when we decided that we were going to Glasgow to write the album, normal scenario is that you write your songs and pick the best ones, this one was the wrote single we wrote on the very first day in the studio! We were trying to be abit more clever with the lyrics rather than just doing your basic love circle of lyrics and stuff. We didn't do 40-50 songs, we wrote 9 songs but 2 of them aren't on the album. It worked out really good for us.
I'm gonna ask Lee who would win a dance off between you all?
It definitely wouldn't be Lee as he doesn't have any rhythm.
Do you have a question I could ask him?
Yeah ask him about his pink y-fronts! He'll tell you all about it when you ask him
Thanks Jimmy and the best of luck with the single and album!
Take care mate, bye.
Next up is LEE
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911's new single ''Two hearts one love" is released September 8th and their brand new album 'Illuminate' is out on Sunday too!
Have you found yourself with a new army of fans thanks to the big reunion?
Yeah I guess so. People come up to us now who probably weren't fans in the day and they say they like our personalities a stuff on TV so I guess we're like TV personalities as well as a pop band; that has brough us new fans because of the TV show yearh, alot of our old fans are bringing their kids along and stuff as well. The show showed our 'heart and sleeves' side as well as the glitz and glam.
You were always a boyband who could dance, sing and were good looking and gpot the girls, now you're approaching forty is that right?
(Laughs) Yeah that's right! I'm forty September 27th. We're now on the man band thing. We're mature guys I guess.
Jimmy told me you've all been hitting the gym hard everyday, do you stil get mobbed by girls when you're on the treadmill?
There is only me and a personal trainer in there so I've just been hammering the gym with the help from my trainer. I feel the best i've ever felt shape wise anyway.
Let's now imagine we're in mid september and your new single "Two hearts one love" and new album have done very well. What would this mean with regard to more new music and the future of 911?
I would love to record more new songs and stuff. We've got a great little team, it's like going back in time again cos we started with an independant label back in the day and we're doing the same thing again now just to get some new music out there. These song's we've co-written, I'm just so proud of them, they're really stong songs.
We are looking at this to be a 6-12 month project, doing the gigs, getting the album our there and raising more awareness. I think that is key to the way we are going to do it and the stratedgy to doing it independently.
You spent 10 weeks in the glasgow studio, how was that?
It was amazing, we had a great time doing it again. It was quite strange going back into the recording studio. We recorded afew bits in the kitchen, in the studio and a couple of bits in a rehearsal room. It was really raw the whole process. I've been writing stuff myself for many years so it was great to get ideas out into these songs, lyrics and melodies. We all were a really big part of it and are really proud of it cos we co-wrote every song in the process.
It sounds to me like you are enjoying the process even more?
You'ld be right, yeah. Back in the day your schedule is so mad that your young and care free and you miss certain things I guess cos everyone is taking care of your business on the side. You don't get a chance to appreciate the moment til you step away from it.
Now I wanna be in the moment, every single thing we do to me is exciting, whether we do TV, a magazine shoot. I've got my reality at home but so step into the crazy showbiz thing it's surreal, but i'm tring to keep the balance of normality as well and just enjoy it for what it is.
Having seen you live several times, you are known for numerous hits but would you ever make the 'bodyshakin' video?
I'd love too!! I think there is an audience out there that still isnlt aware of bodyshakin, after the first series of The Big Reunion went out twitter was going made with #bodyshakin and everyone picked up on that song. I would love us to re-do that as I think what the right exposure it would be massive. I really do cos it's such a great song.
If you think of 'Let's get ready to rhumble', that wasn't officially released and yet it still hit number 1 last year.
Exactly, bodyshakin is our 'Let's get ready to rhumble'.
Who would win a dance of with all of you?
I'd go for Spike yeah.
Tell me about the pink y-fronts?
(Laughs). Okay so the new series of The Big Reunion shows us on tour, the cameras caught us all in the hotel, backstage and stuff. I got locked out of my hotel room so I had to go down 6 floors to the reception in my undies basically. I was really embarrassed and apologetic as there were afew fans there and residents. The whole hotel went made with ITV for having me in reception in my underpants, but it was really funny at the time so that is going to be on TV probably. They were black but with pink rims.
You were always the main singer/pin-up in the group who the media and fans focused on, so what advise would you give a boyband to help make their career last?
When you're a brand new boyband and stuff and our young, you don't know anything about the industry so automatically the record company is going to take over everything you do but as time goes along you learn about stuff and then you can have more input further along but my advise would be 'Just enjoy it and don't get too serious about it'. After the first album people think they need to go serious and grow, well now you don't really as your fans are young. Sometimes boybands make that mistake. Longevity is just making great pop songs. Don't try to be too cool or credible cos people aren't that bothered, they just want a great song if you are a boyband.
Now we chat to SPIKE
Lee told me that he would love to re-make the Bodyskain video as I think it's a real a anthem!
It'a mad! It was always an anthem but it took 15 years for the whole country to know.
Did you imagaine that 911 would still be going after all these years?
No, I think If I had off gone back when me and Jimmy first started the plan when we were both 16 or something before we met Lee. I would never have thought it was last. I can remeber the first time we did the bodyshakin move it was for another song for when me and Jimmy used to be dancers called 'Wreckx-N-Effect Rim Shaker'. That's where for parts of it we used to do the shake in about 1988/89. I remember watching Beyonce watching us do a TV show and asking us about the move in 1997. She said "Do that move again". We were on a small TV show when she was in Destiny's child.
Do you miss Saturday morning kids's TV?
I miss SMTV, CDUK, TOP OF THE POPS, LIVE N' KICKIN. Do you know what Mark they were fantastic shows to do. You were buzzing before going on and really excited. I think TV missed them. Music hasn't been the same since those shows. No-one knows what is number one anymore.
I've heard quite afew songs from your album, is the LP more 911 rather than a record company pleaser?
Yeah, well we've done exactly what we wanted to do. No-one told us to to do, we done the songs and chose which songs are going on. It's been good to have total control...whether it's right we'll see! (Laughs).
What is your favouriute new song on the album?
There are two. 'Diamonds' which is a proper dance track and 'Back in the day' which is where we reminisce and probably a song we would have done back in the day, were were messing about when we did it and we though well let's keep it like a bonus track! I just love 'Diamonds' though.
Which other big reunion stars would you like to record with?
I like all the 5ive, B*Witched, Libery x, Kittens, Honeyz, I love them all. I think if we did a song with the Kittens it would be an absolute riot! They're absolutely mad just like is! So Kittens or Libery x
Do you still have the same die-hard fans or are there new one's now?
We've got new ones's which is nice, like 18-19 year old's. We've also got all the old die-hard fans back again, which is nice. It's a good feeling cos they bring their kids.
I've asked Jimmy and Lee the same question and they both gave me the same answer, so I'll ask you now Spike. Who would win a dance off between all you?
ME (Laughs). Is that what they said?
(Laughs), that's me thing!! I'd kick their asses.
You enjoying it all more this time?
Alot more as it's not as intense. Last time it's like when your doing everything day in day out you take it for granted. You stop enjoying it and it becomes a proper job. Being in 911 again doesn't feel like it's a job as it did first time around. It's just aload of fun, it's dead relaxed! We have a proper good time so it's miles better. The fans are lovely and you don't have to watch what you say anymore. You can just be yourself it's great.
When you all go out do you still get recognised?
We get recognised alot yeah, but nothing nasty is ever said anymore. The first time we did it we were rivals to lads, they were jealous. We were on TV and if their girlfriends liked us they would get jealous. I didn't get much crap but you didn't expect lads to like you. Where as now, lads seem to love you! It's just miles better for boybands to be doing it these days.
What advise do you have for One Direction or The Wanted who must be under incredible pressure?
Just enjoy it, don't quit. Wait until they kick you out of the industry, live it as long as you can cos your a longtime retired. It doesn't feel like at the time when you're at work and tired and you can't enjoy it.
It's like JLS finishing now, give them 6 months or a years time and they'll want to be back in JLS. I guarnatee that! It's like a drug - you cannot do without it. They might think we've run our course and all of that stuff but If I were JLS I would get straight back on TV and say "We were only kidding, we're gonna keep going". There is still alot of miles left in JLS, I can't believe it's ending. I love there music and that and think they are wicked!
Talking of other boybands, if you were on your own and could have been in any band over the past 20 years up to present day, which one would you most like to have been in?
The Rolling Stones as they are still going and shagging everything!! (Haha). I'm kidding, but yeah probably them.
I used to love 'New addition' when I was a kid with Bobby brown and all that. Our dancing comes from that including with MC Hammer, Boyz to Men with all their up-tempo stuff.
If you had to choose between the Backstreet boys, 'N Sync, Boyzone, Westlife or Take That?
That's between 'N Sync and Take That! Both of them I respect and their routines. I think probably Take That because of the shows they put on. Saying that I loved the dancing 'N Sync used to do so between them two.
Fantastic and thank you so much, we wish you the best of luck with the new single, album and tour. I'm really excited your back making music and you all seem to be really happy as well.
Watch 911's offical music video 'Two hearts one love'
Simon 'Spike' Dawbarn