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Alright Again

29 May 2012 | 5:26 pm | Mitch Knox

They shot to stardom when the New Kids were still kids, kind of, and the Backstreet Boys were still boys before it all came tumbling down for British ‘90s pop sensations East 17.

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"We had the end-of-career depression you go through, just after the '90s,” Mortimer explains. “We'd gone through that and then you start thinking, 'Oh, what am I going to do with the rest of my life?'

“Then I got a call from Terry [Coldwell] to go back and go in the studio and I thought, 'Here we go again, we've done this about 80 times. It hasn't worked but we'll do it anyway.' Then it progressed. We just started writing a couple of songs and then spoke to some management companies, and all of them said, 'Bo, don't be stupid', except one. Then they signed us and we went and spoke to some record companies that all said, 'No, don't be stupid', except one. Here we are now, we've just signed a four-album deal… so I think we're going to be dead before we get to the end of it. We're really chuffed at the moment. We're like little kids that have been given a new lease on life.”

The rejuvenation of the band – now operating as a threesome comprised of Mortimer, Coldwell and John Hendy following the departures of Blair Dreelan and Brian “drugs are cool” Harvey – has culminated in the release of their recent LP Dark Light, a far cry from the days of It's Alright, a single that shot to #1 in Australia for seven weeks in 1994. Mortimer says it all seems a new experience.

“It's different, but at the same time, because we appreciate the situation we're in, we're having the time of our lives, to be honest,” he says. “There's no pressure, we're relaxed. We, were lucky to get the opportunity in our 20s so, to get it twice we can't moan about anything. Someone's looking out for us. But we did come through a bit of a dark period at the end of the '90s.

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“We've progressed to a different style of music. Over the years, we've changed. We're doing something slightly different. So we released it, and I think it's been a bit of a slap in the face for some people; it's not quite what they were expecting. But it's where we are, and we've got the freedom to do what we want to do with this record company, which is great. It's like the old days, like the old record company that gave the artists freedom to do what they want, and it's sort of like, well, if the album don't work, don't worry; we'll do another one.”

But if you're an existing fan planning on catching the trio when they hit the country for a national tour this month, rest assured that your vintage cravings will be satisfied, but also that Mortimer's eye is focused firmly on the future.

“We're just going to sing some of the old songs and do our thing,” he laughs. “We're going to do all, or most of, the old songs, and then we're thinking, 'Shall we chuck in a couple of new ones?' It's always really risky, because it could go really quiet at that point, and everyone's going to go to the bar and order drinks, or they're going to know the words and sing along… But it's good, because we're doing like a nostalgia thing, but because we've got a record deal we feel like we're starting again. If it was just a nostalgia thing, and we had no record deal, it'd be really… sad. It'd be sad for us, I think.”