EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Claire Richards talks about the Summer of Steps tour and celebrating 20 years of Steps

The day we speak to Claire it’s hot out.  The first bit of decent sun the UK has had all year. Hopefully, a sign that the UK is in for a decent summer. It’s the perfect type of weather to go to an outdoor gig. Which is exactly the type of gig Claire and the rest of Steps will be doing this summer with their ‘Summer of Steps ‘ Tour.

Claire is excited to get out on tour again. she reckons if the weather is bad they should “give out umbrellas or maybe ponchos so everyone at the back could still see” We personally could get behind Steps ponchos. She talks about her own experience at a recent gig she went to at Hampton Court “It was one of these retro things outside, It didn’t rain the whole time but I managed to get right down near the front which was so exciting, the rain didn’t really dampen the experience. ”

Talk moves on to preparation for the upcoming Summer of Steps tour and how the band goes about the unenviable task of creating a setlist that features not only classic Step’s tracks but tracks from the ‘Tears on the Dance Floor’ album. “It’s hard,” she admits. ” You always want to please everyone, but can’t there is always going to be someone upset because you haven’t played their favourite song. ” We try to listen to the fans. On our last tour [Party on the Dancefloor] lots of fans asked for Paradise Lost, which was an album track from back in the day and wasn’t one we’d ever sung live before, so we incorporated it into a medley. ”

The Party on the Dancefloor tour was the first tour in Step’s 20-year history that Claire and her fellow band members  H, Faye, Lee and Lisa had not each done a solo song. “We thought we’d be a bit different and just do the greatest hits, just hit the audience with one hit after another, after another.” “It was just unadulterated pure pop,” she says of the previous tour.

When asked what her favourite track to perform is, her answer was somewhat surprising. It’s the bands first hit and undoubtedly the cheesiest slice of pop the band ever released, with one of the catchiest routines. Claire says the band got to a stage as it was a song they’d performed so often, where they used to avoid performing “5678” thinking of ways to incorporate the song into their shows without actually being on stage to perform it. “We had the dancers dance it, we had them wear huge bobble heads of us, you name it we did it to get out of performing it.”

“I really got into it this last tour and really went for it every night, sometimes I think I might have overdone it as it was one of the songs I always ended up breathless after performing it. It’s just so much fun to perform now and I really enjoy it.”

As we talk about the last tour Claire mentions a moment which for her and the rest of the band really sums up how they feel about Steps. “It was something we’d all seen, but it was H that brought it up,” she says “At one of the shows there was a guy in the audience, he wore a T’Shirt. On it just simply said, “Thank you for letting me be me.” ” It touched us all and made us quite emotional.” She says as she re-tells the story. “Steps have taken a lot of stick over the years, but we’ve embraced it as we know we’re pop but we don’t apologise for it.”

Steps may have taken some stick from people but 2017, the year they celebrated 20 years as a band saw them more popular than ever. “It was crazy,” says Claire, when we ask her what her stand out moment of the past 12 months have been. “There has been so much, the tour and the album. But I think for me the album as it’s something we’d been working on for so long, and we were a bit nervous about seeing the reaction and seeing how people would receive it.”

“Scared of the Dark for me was the perfect bridge between old Steps and new Steps. It had everything we wanted in a song.”

When we asked what’s next for Steps Claire says after the Summer of Steps tour they plan to take a bit of break “It’s nice now  as the beauty of this time around is we all get to choose when to do Steps, we all have families and in some cases other careers, so it’s nice that we are in a place where we can do as much or as little as we like.”

“We’ve spent a lot of the past 18 months working on Steps so it will be nice to have some time out.”

“We have plans and at the moment are talking about another album, we don’t want to stop!”

Could an album with a full orchestra be in the works? “Who knows? “she says” It’s something we’ve talked about and would like to do and I personally would love to, but would the fans want it, a whole show of us doing that?”

 

For now, Steps are focused on their upcoming tour and they have a couple of days of rehearsal next week for a gig in Dubai (Where Lisa now lives). Before starting to get ready for the summer shows. “It’s pure muscle memory,” she says when we ask how they remember the routines. “Between the five of us each remembering different bits we get a full routine.”

As we finish our chat we can’t help but ask her if  ‘Summer of Love‘ will feature in the setlist for the tour? “Oh I think it might just be in there somewhere” she laughs.

Steps into the Summer tour has 18 dates across the UK  and runs from May 26th to July 18th. Steps will be supported on tour by Blue, Aqua and Saara Aalto. You can book tickets and find out all the info on the tour here.

Are you going to Steps into Summer tour? What song would you love to see Steps perform live that they haven’t yet? Let us know over on @CelebMix

 

 

 

 

Written by Kelly McFarland

Likes to post in black and white on Instagram. Avid Tea drinker, preferably Yorkshire Tea or Lipton Iced Tea and lover of Pop Culture. Contact: [email protected]