The Saturdays interview
might not show on your radar but clued-up outlets were swift to put their hipster credentials aside and avoid the usual sniffiness when, five years ago now, they emerged with the irresistible ‘Up’ and followed it with an album of smart, sassy pop. Chasing Lights, crafted with care and far from predictable, was enough to get them a piece of the girl group action. (Now there’s a hard nut to crack if ever there was one.) With only Girls Aloud and the barely recognisable Sugababes making a mark since the Spice Girls called it a day, The Saturdays must have been watching the clock as they scratched their heads.
Credit to them: five years is a lifetime in pop, let alone this acknowledged niche market of doom. And now, after the premiere of their US TV show Chasing the Saturdays, three albums and a dozen top ten singles, their new single ‘What About Us’ is tipped to give Una, Frankie, Rochelle, Vanessa and Mollie their first UK number one.
With prescient timing, they’re back in the UK, having spent much of the past few months in the States. I caught up with Mollie and put it to her that their UK fans might have been forgiven for thinking The Saturdays had almost forgotten about them of late. “Ha ha ha! No way. We can’t forget them. My god, no way! They can’t escape us. It’s just that we’re constantly back and forth. But yes, it’s nice to be back home and promoting our single. And amazing as it is to be successful elsewhere, there’s no place like home.”
The TV show aired at the start of the year and has since been shown in the UK. Isn’t it every Brit group’s dream to make it over there? How’s America gone for you? “Oh, it’s been a dream. Since we started we always said we’d love to crack America and not just America. Everywhere. So, to have our own series out there has been incredible. Every time we go over it’s growing, we’re getting recognised, it’s great. It’s amazing to see the growth in our fan base over there. It’s really encouraging.”
This whole girl band thing – so much is made of the commercial impossibility. You supported Girls Aloud when you started and a decade later they’re still here (Are you sure? - Ed.). Clearly it can be done but surely you just have to take each day as it comes and not look over your shoulder. “I know... I feel exactly the same as that. You just never know with a girl band. It’s so hard to predict how long you’re gonna be around, how long people are going to want to keep buying your records. We’re so grateful each time we release a single and it goes in the top ten. Every time we do chart well, we’re very surprised. We never get too comfortable.”
What’s the secret? Sure, keeping the tunes coming is one thing but there has to be something more than that, something of an, ahem, X Factor. “I think the thing with us is we genuinely do get on. We are good friends, we’re really tight as a unit. We’ve got a great label. They provide us with opportunities to work with incredible writers. It’s a mixture of our hard work but also having a great team around us, I’d say.”
Is it hard to stay grounded and not become prima donnas? You must have seen at first hand how the industry can send you over the edge if you’re not careful. “Yeah, I definitely have. I think being in a band, though, there’s always someone there to ground you. If someone ever stepped out of line the rest of us would be like, 'Hey, hold on a minute. Who do you think you are?' I can see that if you’re on your own, you could probably get wrapped up in it. But we’re very grounded. Very.”
Is it hard to stay ahead? You started off with a clean, pop sound but that’s given way to a harder, dance arrangements. “We do like to think of ourselves as having a Saturdays sound. And we don’t want to jump on any bandwagon... We do like a lot of what’s popular and current. Dance is definitely something we all like to follow. It’s kind of a mixture of sticking with what you know has and is going to work for you and going along with something more current, really.”
Alongside a set of outdoor summer shows, there’s a new album (“already recorded, it’ll be out in the next couple of months”), a full headlining tour at the start of next year (“definitely our favourite thing to do; me and Frankie were just watching some old tour footage and reminiscing about how much we love it”) and that elusive number one. With everything crossed, ‘What About Us’ might just fulfill another of The Saturdays’ dreams. And maybe, like their ‘big sisters’, whose audience on their recent UK tour seemed to be largely in their 30s, they might yet cross over and stick around for a few years yet. “Well, I think the fans grow up with you. We’ve had younger fans, of course. We started five years ago. Let’s just hope they stick with us!”
The Saturdays play:
28 Mar Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin
04 Apr Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool
18 May Doncaster Racecourse, South Yorkshire
08 Jun Newmarket Racecourse, Suffolk
23 Aug Scarborough Open Air Theatre, North Yorkshire