This week we all got to hear Blue’s bid song for the Eurovision song contest. And it’s a corker! I Can is a great slice of euphoric pop with Lee’s trademark high vocals and an insanely catchy chorus. So make sure you all get behind them when they take it to Dusseldorf in May. I caught up with Duncan James, Lee Ryan, Simon Webbe and Antony Costa at their Eurovision press conference where they were looking in great shape and buzzing about the challenge ahead. Below they tell me about calling time on excessive partying, working with Bruno Mars and up-coming album plans.
Would you say that this is the biggest moment of your career so far?
Simon: I think it’s another opportunity. One of our biggest moments was at the Queen’s Jubilee as that only comes around once every 50 years.
Duncan: Apparently my biggest moment is meeting the Queen. That’s what it says in the biog – we need to get that out! We got asked in the interview what was the biggest highlight we’ve ever done as a band. Lee was like working with Elton John, working with Stevie Wonder, doing this, doing that and they wrote about me ‘Duncan’s was meeting the Queen’. Hey, trust me to say that… I don’t think anything could be comparable to meeting the Queen but this is a great opportunity for us and we are really excited to be representing our country. That’s just as good as meeting the Queen because it’s her country.
Maybe you can get the Queen to back your bid?
Duncan: I think she has got enough to worry about with the wedding this year. But maybe the Prince’s might – that would be cool!
Lee: Aaw, she’s so beautiful.
Duncan: Who Kate Middleton or the Queen?
Lee: Kate. She’s so pretty, so lovely.
You should have got in their sooner…
Lee: She’s royalty so I wouldn’t dare to comment!
Are you going to get any of your celebrity pals to help drum up support for you?
Anthony: I think we’ve had a few celebrity friends getting onboard as we’ve done a BBC documentary and said what they think about us doing the Eurovision and all of it has been really, really positive.
Duncan: We don’t quite know what the BBC are doing with the documentary though. We just keep doing our stuff so we will literally be seeing it when you see it. It’s a little scary. I’ll Sky+ it.
Simon: I think I’ll wait for the reaction and see if it’s good.
And how is the album getting along?
Anthony: We are nearly done.
Duncan: At the moment it’s in a really good place and we have some great stuff. I was in bed the other night listening to some of the mixes and instantly thought, ‘Wow this is a really good album’. I think this is probably going to be the best album we’ve ever done. And I think when people hear it they will say that we forgot how great Blue were and that they were known for their songs.
Lee: We don’t want to be compared to Take That, we don’t want to be compared to JLS or anyone else. We are Blue. We’ve sold enough albums and done tours to now be able to stand there in our own right.
Simon: It’s all about getting the top producers who are the best of the world – RedOne, Timberland and Stargate. I think we’ve been in the business long enough to know what kind of sound we want to create. We are now co-producing everything so we’ll just get a producer in to put their twist on it.
Lee: The great thing about this album is that we are so hands-on and I don’t think we’ve ever really done that with any of the albums.
And I hear that you’re working with Bruno Mars on new songs?
Duncan: Bruno has been so excited to be working with us.
Lee: I’ve written two songs with Bruno Mars for Blue. One is called This Is I Learnt When You Love A Woman and the other one is called Black and Blue. They’re two amazing songs and When You Love A Woman will be a massive anthem.
Duncan: What’s also really exciting is that we are now in control of the business. This is just the beginning and the first foundation. We are really excited about it all because for us it’s like we are getting a second opportunity to go back into the business again and do what we all love. But this time we are in more control of it and have our eye on the ball as last time we didn’t have a clue what was going on or what direction what ball was going in.
Lee: I never want to stop doing Blue again. I think we’ve all experienced different things which was great for us growing as people in the industry and as adults. But I think we’ve realised that we are stronger as a four and even if we did take time off after we do what we do then we will definitely be coming back again with another album. I love writing for the group and sitting in the studio making stuff for us. It’s constantly on my mind and it’s so much more fun writing for the group.
If you could have an ultimate wish-list of bands that would reunite to take part in the Eurovision in the future what would it be?
Duncan: I think the biggest band that would be amazing and who everyone would just go mad to see would be ABBA. They always said they would never get back together but wouldn’t it be wonderful? I grew up listening to them as a kid. They are probably the biggest, most successful band, come out of the Eurovision.
Lee: I’d really like to see Roxette. Apparently after what she has been through her voice is still exactly the same and she’s absolutely amazing. I’m a big fan of Roxette.
And are you making sure you are all on your best behaviour now in the run-up to Eurovision?
Antony: As much as Blue ever can be.
Lee: The most important thing for us as a group is representing the UK and doing our country proud. Anything else comes second to that.
Simon: We’re all dads and my little girl is 14 years old now. I don’t want her to read about her dad falling out of clubs and I want to set an example for her and her friends who look up to Blue. We have got a lot of responsibility and were not a young band that has to go through those stages. The novelty has worn off for us and it’s now about making great music and putting on great performances. We now want to go back out there and tour the world.
So have you called time on your partying days then?
Simon: Oh no! It’s not the end of partying as we’ll do it all in moderation now. When you’re young you don’t know how to handle it. You are sitting on six figures in your bank and you are in the best city in the world so if you have free time then you’re going to go out and party.