An essential part of the soundtrack to nineties nostalgia, Kate Rothwell talks to S Club.
An ashamedly starstruck Otwo meets Jo O’Meara and Bradley McIntosh in the less than glamorous setting of a dressing room-cum-bathroom in the UCD Student Bar. Times have changed for the pair, who make up little over a quarter of the band that so many UCD students will remember from hours spent singing into their hairbrushes, S Club 7.
Although they started off as a septet, both admit that they have gotten used to performing by themselves, having spent the last couple of years often taking to the stage to relive old S Club hits, to the delight of nostalgic college-goers across the UK and Ireland. However, they are still in contact with the other five members of the original line-up, occasionally even meeting for what Otwo imagines is a pretty hectic dinner. While Rachel, Hannah, Tina, Paul and Jon are busying themselves with solo careers, theatre performances and parenthood, O’Meara and McIntosh have been enjoying the intimacy of smaller venues than they were used to in their nineties heyday, as the latter explains. “It’s nice, it’s something that we never got to do when we were in the band, doing the big shows … the smallest we would ever do would probably be about eight to nine thousand.”
Any fans fervently wishing for a full reunion tour can continue to hold out a glimmer of hope, but should still not expect an announcement any day soon, according to McIntosh. “I think every one of us would be open to it but even when we’ve met up we’ve not really talked about it. Who knows – we’ve not ruled it out.”
Should the original septet reunite, they will have to compete with the next generation of pop stars, two of whom are in fact their own protégés – Rochelle Wiseman and Frankie Sandford of the Saturdays both started their careers as members of spin-off group S Club Juniors. While both O’Meara and McIntosh are proud of the girls’ success, O’Meara hasn’t quite come to terms with their maturity. “I can’t stand the fact that they’re grown up and they’re sexy girls now because they’re our babies. I’m like, ‘put your boobs away woman!’”
The duo are well aware that Wiseman and Sandford are not the only ones who have grown up – so has their audience, who were originally, as McIntosh states, their “target market”. They might be in their early twenties now, but it won’t be too many years before few college students will have fond memories of growing up listening to ‘Don’t Stop Moving’, ‘Bring it all Back’ and ‘Reach’. McIntosh acknowledges that their performances don’t have a long-term future, but also explains that that was never part of their plan. “We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and it’s been fun but I think it’s getting to the point where you can only do it for so long … it kinda happened by accident anyway. I was doing a bit of DJing and at the end I’d put on a few S Club songs and then I pulled Jo in to do a couple of shows and then before we knew it the agent was getting calls and we were like ‘yeah, why not, we’ll do a few here and there.’”
As well as accepting that the S Club revival does not promise longevity, the remaining members are also surprisingly accepting of the fact that the group’s music is openly labelled as ‘cheese’, as McIntosh confirms that “It’s the truth, innit? We are cheese … we’re from the cheese era”, and O’Meara glibly states that it’s “better than being shit, out and out shit, I suppose.” McIntosh goes on to point out the foolishness of pretending otherwise, “I think we’d look like idiots if we tried to justify that we weren’t cheese when we are. It’s like me trying to pretend I’m white when I’m black,” with O’Meara echoing “Or me black”.
S Club impress Otwo with stories of nineties backstage band interaction, telling tales of how H from Steps would “sit in our room, cross his legs and have a chat.” O’Mara adds that his visits were also motivated by the use of their hair straighteners, and emphasises her point with a fairly accurate impression of the Welsh pop star “Hallooo! Oh are they plugged in?” We finish the interview in a haze of starstruck nostalgia, leaving S Club to take to the stage and prove that even in 2012, there still ain’t no party like an S Club party.