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Steps re-live their early days in the music industry living on '£50 a week'

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·4-min read
Even after working hard for two years, Steps were still living on £50 a week (Images: Getty Images)
Even after working hard for two years, Steps were still living on £50 a week (Images: Getty Images)

Number one singles, BRIT awards and worldwide sales of over 20 million records all prove that Steps, who started out as a novelty act, smashed it when it came to the world of pop. However, at the beginning of the career, the band existed on merely £50 a week.

Speaking on White Wine Question Time, the fivesome revealed that their early days were really quite tough.

“We didn't start making any money until after that first theatre tour,” explained Claire Richards. “We'd been going over two years before we actually earned any money.”

Read more: Steps feared new song's title would be seen as 'insensitive' due to pandemic

The chart-toppers however had ways of making their money go further, like sharing a flat and making the most out of hotel breakfast buffets.

Listen: Steps talk Britney Spears, life on tour and why they’re happier this time around

“We didn't have two pennies to rub together,” said Ian ‘H’ Watkins.

He continued: “We used to travel to Europe quite a lot and we used to make sandwiches at breakfast time to last us through the day because we literally had nothing.”

Faye Tozer-Smith said that even when they started making money they knew that they had to watch the pennies.

Steps, pictured in 1998, are happier now that they are in control of their careers (Image: Getty Images)
Steps, pictured in 1998, are happier now that they are in control of their careers (Image: Getty Images)

“I think we were made well aware right at the beginning, that what you spend do you have to recruit before you earn your money,” she said.

“Whereas a lot of the other pop bands from what we saw seemed to be spending a lot of money and doing all these amazing things… We were a little bit tight and penny pinched ourselves because we were aware of it.”

Read more: Steps singer Claire Richards says she was ‘too thin’ for I’m A Celebrity

The singer, who carved out a career in musicals once Steps disbanded, recalled removing a sun bed from a tour bus that Boyzone had used to help save them money.

Richards agreed, saying the ‘90s, when they first made it big, was crazy when it came to splashing the cash.

L-R (back) Claire Richards, Lee Latchford-Evans; (front) Faye Tozer, Lisa Scott-Lee and Ian 'H' Watkins of pop band Steps pose for a studio group portrait session in 1998 in London. (Photo by Mike Prior/Getty Images)
L-R (back) Claire Richards, Lee Latchford-Evans; (front) Faye Tozer, Lisa Scott-Lee and Ian 'H' Watkins of pop band Steps pose for a studio group portrait session in 1998 in London. (Photo by Mike Prior/Getty Images)

“It was about the private jets and it was about chauffeur-driven cars everywhere,” she recalled.

“Nobody thought about the costs. All the record companies were like that as well. It was just a free-for-all, and then it got to a point where record companies realised they just couldn't do that anymore because the business had changed and the money just wasn't there anymore.

“I honestly can't even begin to imagine what we may have had in our bank accounts that we've just wasted because nobody was paying attention to it.”

L-R: Lee Latchford-Evans, Faye Tozer, Ian Watkins (aka H), Lisa Scott-Lee and Claire Richards, of the pop group 'Steps' at Virgin Mega Store in central London, to sign copies of  'Steps the Official Book'.   (Photo by Peter Jordan - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
L-R: Lee Latchford-Evans, Faye Tozer, Ian Watkins (aka H), Lisa Scott-Lee and Claire Richards, of the pop group 'Steps' at Virgin Mega Store in central London, to sign copies of 'Steps the Official Book'. (Photo by Peter Jordan - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Since the group reformed in 2017, they’ve made it their mission to be in control of their career – and their finances – and Claire has taken a major role in ensuring that the band aren’t taken for a ride.

“Being in a pop group is great, but ultimately it is a business and it's our business,” she said.

Read more: The rise and fall of Steps in pictures

“If nobody else is going to pay attention to the fine detail, then we can't be upset if we don't.”

She continued: “Hopefully we are a really good point now where we are partners. We're not just pawns in it anymore.”

The new album from Steps, What The Future Holds, is out on 27 November.

Listen to the full episode to hear Steps talk about their career highlights on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.

Watch: Steps announce their comeback