EDINBURGH has talent, of that there is no doubt, and this year, ‘Edinburgh Has Talent’, the Evening News’ annual search for a star, has 911.
The boyband, turned manband, comprising Lee Brennan, Jimmy Constable and Simon ‘Spike’ Dawbarn will make a guest appearance at the Grand Final of this year’s competition, at the Festival Theatre, on 1 November.
It’s perfect timing for band who scored ten Top 10 hits back in the 1990s, especially as their new album Illuminate: The Hits and More, will be in shops by then.
Formed in 1995, 911 made their debut with a cover of Shalamar’s A Night to Remember, in 1996. A first album, The Journey, came a year later.
Two more, Moving On and There It Is, in 1998 and 1999, respectively, as well as their only No 1 A Little Bit More, followed.
With ten million sales around the world the band split in 2000 only to reunite for the ITV reality show Hit Me, Baby, One More Time in 2005, after which they continued to perform together.
Earlier this year they were back on the small screen again, this time in ITV2’s reality-documentary series The Big Reunion. They have barely stopped since, with a new album, comeback single (Two Hearts, One Love), and headline tour in the pipeline.
Band members Brennan and Constable admit, they are enjoying the success much more this time around.
“It’s very relaxed. There’s no stress involved anymore. When we decided to do a new album, it was our decision,” says Constable.
Brennan adds, “We’re older and more experienced at writing stuff. I’ve had ideas in my head for years and it’s nice to get them down on paper. From that point of view, it’s been amazing. We’ve had a real laugh.”
Talking to the singers, it is soon clear that their appearance alongside Atomic Kitten, Liberty X, B*Witched, 5ive and Honeyz in The Big Reunion, put the fire back in their bellies for the business.
Brennan, who celebrates his 40th birthday next month, reveals, “I guess that if you get the opportunity off the back of The Big Reunion to write new songs, then you’re going to do that aren’t you?
“The Big Reunion was just the best time of my life. The show helped everyone. We all went through different things when our bands split up and it was a chance to address those feelings. I still had a lot of emotion, and it allowed me to get that out and move forward as a person. That’s why it was such a success.”
That, and the band’s own experiences over the decades leave 911 in a far stronger position today, believes 41-year-old Constable.
“We’re older and wiser. We’re grown men with families to look after, so it’s become a business for us. In the old days you would do anything because you were craving the fame or the money. Now it’s about not doing things that aren’t viable. Even down to the album; we made the decision to do it, then put our own finance pack together to ensure that we didn’t have to go for a major record deal. The whole control is with us. We decide what we release, when we release it. We have complete control, and that all comes down to our experience of the music industry and the fact that, having been through the ups and downs, we know what to avoid.”
Brennan adds, “This is a crazy industry. It’s a love-hate thing. Back in the day I thought it would never end, so when you get the chance to jump on it again you try to enjoy every single thing you do because it might just stop again. You can’t worry about what the future holds, just enjoy it while you can.”
The new album contains seven new tracks along with seven old favourites, which, Brennan reveals were “recorded in a kitchen”. But as they enter their 40s, how do they feel about still being referred to as a boyband?
Constable is philosophical, “We have to accept people are going to still call us that but we know what we are doing and we’re good at it, so as long as they enjoy the music, I don’t really mind what they call us.”
Illuminate: The Hits and More is released on Sunday