After 911 split two years ago Lee Brennan simply wanted to spend some time out of the spotlight and live a normal life. In an exclusive interview with Designer Magazine Brennan reveals it wasn't until Richard & Judy left This Morning that he was motivated to really concentrate on his solo career.
Later this month is the release of his debut solo single "Turn It Around" - a slice of pure uplifting pop - and over the past year he's been working with the likes of Misteeq and ex-Take That boy Howard Donald. However some of you may be surprised to know that Brennan was the brains behind Blue's Number one smash "If You Come Back".
Q: You're out there on your own this time. How does it feel to be back then?
A: Its just really strange doing it by myself. I was myself in 911 but when your starting in a boy band you're a bit naive and people tell you what to do and how you should do things...now at least I understand how it works.
911 never split up so I could do a solo thing. We split up because we'd had our time and it was time to move over for someone else. I didn't have clue what I wanted to do with myself. I was like do I want to try singing again? Acting or Presenting? I didn't know what the hell to do so I just sat at home and had a rest first and got my mind clear for 6 months.
I was just being really lazy, getting really bored and I had to get my mind motivated again. I just spent the day watching This Morning and after Richard and Judy left it was never the same.
Q: While you were working on your solo career you got back with 911 for a reunion tour. I guess the big question on everyone's lips is why?
A: During the summer Spike got a call off an Agent who used to do our old tours and they wanted to put a theatre tour together if we were going to get back together. It was like there's some money there for you...do you want to do it? I hadn't spoken to Jimmy for 18 months so I rang him and he was up for it.
We had a good time doing it and there was a good response to it. At the end of the day it was worth doing and it was just good to get back on stage again and have the buzz of the crowd.
Personally, I know that me and Spike enjoyed it. I don't know about Jimmy...but Jimmy is his own person, he's very independent and what he wants to do he does. I just wanted to go out there and enjoy it and that what me & Spike did. We spent the whole tour driving round in Spike's care...just me and Spike having a laugh and I loved it and hopefully Jimmy loved it just as much as we did.
Q: Would you ever consider getting 911 back full time or was it just a one-off tour?
A: No. I think in the charts we've had our time as a group and the last couple of years Jimmy wanted to be in it but I think it was getting to his head a little bit. He was really stressed out and that's why he wanted to get out of it, but at the same time he didn't want to get out of it if you know what I mean? He didn't want to get up and do early morning TV and photo shoots because he couldn't be arsed. Its catch 22 and that's just the way it is.
Q: Over the past year you've been concentrating on your songwriting and collaborations. I believe you've been working with Tony Mortimer (East 17) and Howard Donald (Take That)?
A: It was all booked for me and Tony to go in the studio. But the day I was meant to happen he had a record company after him to sign him....that got cancelled and we haven't had the chance to meet since. But i'd still love to write a few tracks with him.
I did a couple of tracks with Howard last year...I still haven't finished them mind!!! Howard's a really cool guy and I used to love Take That. I saw him few months ago and he's DJing now. He'd been DJing since he left school and he actually had a solo album ready but there was so much bollocks between the record companies he just thought bollocks to it!!!
Q: And isn't there a dance record with you and Misteeq going around?
A: I've done a song with a couple of guys called Deep Down about a year and a half ago. We left a gap in the middle of the song and we were thinking who can we get to do a rap. We really wanted Neneh Cherry on there rapping and then my manager suggested the lead singer of Misteeq. It was before the girls had released a record or anything and there were just starting out at the time.
Q: We've heard the uptempo pop of the debut solo single "Turn It Around". Is it typical of solo Lee Brennan?
A: That's me all over really. I didn't want to go in any other direction really because when people come out of a pop band they seem to think that they have to go in this totally diverse reaction. I just wanted to stay true to my pop routes so its 911 but shifted on a bit. With "Turn It Around" we just wanted to write and uptempo spirited pop song and that's what we've done.
For the second single were going to release a really classical sounding ballad...not the usual boy band ballad of "Oh I love You". The lyrics are a bit more real but its not a case of me trying to be cred or whatever, its just how it came out in the studio. The thing was I loved Ronan Keating and "Rollercoaster" but I didn't just want to come back doing ballad after ballad after ballad - it's not really what I'm about. I like to go on stage and act a bit mad!!!
Q: How much input are you actually having in the songwriting?
A: All the songs I've done so far I've co-written. When people see a co-write name, people usually think the singer or artist has only wrote two words but that's what i've spent the past few years developing and I see that as a thing I want to do whether I'm singing or not.
I wouldn't see it as me wanting to be a singer / songwriter because I don't care about all that credibility thing of whether you can write or not. It was just because I had a couple of ideas and I really wanted to get back into the studio. I've been working with a couple of guys up in Hertfordshire and we came up with "Turn It Around" in about 15 minutes.
Q: I have actually heard a rumour that you wrote Blue's number 1 single "If You Come Back". What's the story behind all that?
A: Ah ha!!! It wasn't just me by myself. It bugs me when I see people on TV like Geri Halliwell saying she wrote this song. The truth is probably that is was her and two or three other people...so I'll always give credit - there's 3 other people on that song.
That song was done about two and half years ago now. I'd totally forgotten about it. I sing on the demo and I've got the demo at home...its not that much different actually. The only thing I'd say is its not as R&B as Blue have done it.
The strange thing is I was just watching CD:UK one day and I heard the background of this song. Apparently it was the first time they'd performed it and it suddenly clicked where I'd heard it!!! Everyone was saying throughout the week that it was going to number one...it was like well that's two number 1's now!!!
Q: So what's happening later this year then. Any tour supports lined up?
A: I haven't met the Blue guys yet but they're doing a massive tour at the end of the year so you never know. It costs a lot of money to go on tour though so we'll have to see how the single goes down...I've been away for two years now and you can never how people will react to it.
"Turn It Around" out 28th January on Mecanique Records
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