They leapt onto the music scene as a teenage boyband 13 years ago and caused despair amongst fans when they split five years later. But now the boys from Blue are back. Singer Lee Ryan talks to TOM PELL OF ALL the boyband types ripe for the ol' mickey taking, Lee Ryan is almost the poster boy. Ronan Keating is too bland, Brian Harvey too tragic and Justin Timberlake so damn successful we've even forgiven and forgotten those misjudged cornrows. Whereas with Ryan, he constantly seems to fall right in the middle of his obvious talent and rampant ability to make himself look a bit foolish.
But is it justified? Blue have sold more than 13 million records worldwide, and after almost 14 years are still dispelling doubters by heading out on their own solo tour this autumn, off the back of appearing on ITV2's Big Reunion.
Their latest album, Roulette, achieved a respectable position of 13 in the UK charts, and a stint doing Eurovision didn't actually result in the total, all-encompassing embarrassment that only Eurovision can threaten. And, after all this, Lee is still only 30 ye's old .
"I started in the industry when I was 16, which is absolutely mental. It's half my life, basically," he explains.
"I've always been pretty much the same person, if I'm hones". I think sometimes I get a bit of a bad reputation, because people think a certain way about me. But you have to think, that I was a . young boy when I got involved inBlue and now I'm a father."
He is indeed a father, not only to son Rain, aged four, but also to five year-old Bluebell, who Ryan accepted parental responsibly of when he discovered he was her father in 2009. His relationship past and present is somewhat chequered, yet can't be helped by growing up in the public eye. Just look at Miley Cyrus, off twerking her wrecking ball or whatever she's currently up to. Lee's feelings on this lifestyle are mixed, but he insists, "I've had the time of my life."
"I'd never complain about anything that I've gone through. There's been hard times with it, but that's life. Everyone has ups and downs. I just think some people can be very rude, and they think they can get away with it just because you're famous. That can get annoying sometimes.
"The thing I notice about the public is that they don't think... they just remember. When I wasyounger, when I was about 19, Igot done for drink-driving. Which is terrible, and obviously it's abad mistake to make. But as ateenager, I didn't really see theconsequences of it. And then the other day, I had a bloke comeup tome and say, '...didn't you just get done for drink-driving?'I thought, 'are you kidding me?'And that's the general public. Once it's in their head, they don'twant to forget, either."
While we talk, he gets a ticket for having no tax disc on his car. "It's new!" he pleads. You couldn't make it up. Said public have recently been given a more regular dosage of Blue as the band's stint on The Big Reunion has sparked a UK comeback.
"We're doing really well in Italy, and in Germany, and we've been to Japan. We've always sold records around the world. But, coming back to England, you need a platform these days. X Factor and all this stuff - it's hard to compete. There's such politics on those shows to even get on them, and there's nowhere to go and promote your music."
"Back in the day you had Top Of The Pops, Smash Hits, CD:UK, SM:TV Live, Live and Kicking... so many different avenues to go down in order to get your music out there. We're from that generation, and nowadays, record labels really struggle. You have to go on cooking shows! Cooking shows and breakfast shows, that's all there is. And kids aren't even watching television these days, they're going on the internet and watching YouTube. Record labels will sign artists based on how many views they have on YouTube, because they see that as a revenue stream. The industry has completely changed. Kids wouldn't be interested in watching SM:TV Live because there's so many other things for them to look at."
To avoid the struggle, the Blue boys decided to set up their own label in order to maintain control.
Lee says: "To get a top 15 record by doing it all ourselves I think is a great achievement. I mean, our album went to number four in the midweek charts, and then it dropped out. I've got a conspiracy theory for that, but never mind. I'm not saying it!" No time for detective work, however, as the headline UK tour is fast approaching. The band come to Nottingham's Rock City on October 13 and The Institute in Birmingham on October 21.
"We are playing live," says Lee.
"There aren't many bands that can stand there with an acoustic guitar and sing all of the backing vocals, all of the harmonies, and make it sound the way we do. I wouldn't even say Take That could do it. Take That are not a vocal group like Blue. They're singers, but they're not vocalists like us. I don't know of many bands that are. I would honestly stand up against anyone and be like, 'go on then', because I'm " proud of the band I am in. I'm- proud of the vocal talent, and the vocal range we've got between us.It's ridiculous. Crazy!"Lee's talents stretch evenfurther than a joint Webbe, Costa, James and Ryan vocal, as he alsodabbles in the world of film. Is Hollywood beckoning? PossiblyNot quite yet, as his current fiveyear plan consists of, "...probablyhaving another five kids. One a" year! I don't know, I don't try tothink too much ahead."
He enthuses: "I do a lot of stuff with my own film company, ANDI'm going to be making a couple of films in the beginning of next year, so keep your eye out for that. I do scriptwriting, so I write screenplays. A few amazing producers picked up my scripts, so I must be alright at it! Sometimes I get frustrated, because I just want to write all the time. I can't wait to get back into the studio and get started on the next full Blue album too! But we're a long way off that yet."
"We've got a new EP coming out, like a dance EP, then we'll repackage Roulette with remixes and stuff. We're always thinking what we can do. We're a moving machine and we'll just keep going and going. I think that's why we set up our own label, even though it's cost us more money. We haven't got a label chucking stuff against the wall, seeing if it sticks, and then dropping us."
Blue play Nottingham's Rock City on October 13 and The Institute, Birmingham on October 21. For more details visit: www.officialblue.com g h f s, y
"There aren't many bands that can stand there with an acoustic guitar and sing all of the backing vocals, all of the harmonies, and make it sound the way we do. I wouldn't even say Take That could do it. Take That are not a vocal group like Blue. They're singers, but they're not vocalists like us. I don't know of many bands that are LEE RYAN
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