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Claire Richards thinks "escapism" could be the reason behind Steps' ongoing success.
The 46-year-old singer was initially part of the pop group alongside Faye Tozer, Lee Latchford-Evans, Lisa Scott-Lee and Ian 'H' Watkins from 1997 until 2001 before getting back together with them in 2012 for a reunion tour but since 2017 , the band have enjoyed another run of hit albums and even though she "really doesn't know" what the staying power is, she thinks it could be to do with the notion that fans can "be themselves" at a concert.
She exclusively told BANG Showbiz: "I really don't know. If I did know, I think that's when you take that formula and you apply it to other people. I don't know, I feel like there's something there is a sense of escapism when you listen to Steps. And when you come to a Steps concert, I think people very much identify with at least one of us.
"I think we have that kind of friendly, open, honest kind of safe space for people to just be themselves because I think they can see us being ourselves and you know, wearing what we want to wear. And even if some people think we shouldn't be it's, you know, it's, we're creating a, a space for people to be themselves. And I think we always do say that I think that's really important that it's, you know, we're not going to judge you. And hopefully, you're not going to judge us. And it's all going to be it's all just a safe, nice place to be.
"And you can leave your bags at the door when you're there."
Claire went on to admit that she and her bandmates - who were often seen in costumes such as wedding outfits in their 'Tragedy' music video and as medical staff in their cover of Diana Ross classic 'Chain Reaction' whilst co-ordinating in matching primary colours for other singles - perhaps wanted to be "cool" in the early days but thinks that nowadays both the group and the audience have embraced their camp personas on a bigger scale.
She added: "You can forget about everything for a couple of hours until you have to go home and deal with stuff again, everybody needs that now and again, and I think that's what it is. I don't know.
"Especially this time around as well. I think maybe in the early days, we wanted to be cool. But it was quite clear, quite early on, that we weren't! And most people aren't to be honest, are they? Most people are not cool. So I think we appeal to more."
Away from the group, Claire - who released her first record 'My Wildest Dreams' in 2019 - is back with new record 'Euphoria' and admitted it was "quite difficult" to narrow down the list of female artists she wanted to pay tribute to with the covers collection.
She said: "It was quite difficult. We did come up with a very long list. And then a lot of it is down to what ended up being my favourites and our favourites out of that big long list. And also, I didn't want to go for the most obvious songs. Things like ‘No More Tears’, ‘Gloria’, ‘I Surrender’, I Never Knew Love Like This Before’. For that, I absolutely knew I wanted to go on the album and that I was doing those by hook or by crook. They were songs that I wanted to record for a long time. And then yeah, everything else was just a little bit of a kind of an exploring journey.
"We made a list of artists that had an impact on me. And then it was then finding the songs that fit within the brief of the album as well because I wanted everything to be bangers."
Claire Richards' new album ‘Euphoria’ is out now.