Bradley McIntosh Interviews with Express & Star: “Dream comes true again”
When Bradley McIntosh connects to his Zoom, there’s a big smile and a glint in his eye, and the sort of bonhomie usually reserved to Lottery winners. But then, in a sense, that’s no surprise.
For Bradley – like his S Club bandmates: Tina Barrett, Jon Lee, Jo O’Meara, and Rachel Stevens – has won pop’s lottery. He rose to fame with the BBC TV sitcom, Miami 7, and within five years had been part of the remarkable S Club story, that encompassed four UK number one singles, a UK number one album, 10 million album sales, and two Brit awards.
And now, to coincide with their 25th anniversary, they’re back with their first new music in 20 years – a new single, These Are The Days – as well as a 15-date UK arena tour, that ends at Birmingham’s Utilita Arena on October 29. Reasons to be cheerful: part 1, 2, 3.
It’s not just the S Club renaissance that puts a smile on Bradley’s face, however. S Club were – and are – the epitome of a good-time band. In the world of S Club, there are no worries, no doubts, no reason to be anything less than shiny, and happy, 24/7. Their’s is a world of perpetual sunshine, round-the-clock good vibes, and day-glo happiness.
The tour is about celebrating the silver anniversary.
“Honestly, we’re so proud, so honoured, that we can come back. It was quite nerve-wracking. Simon Fuller our manager called about the 25th anniversary and asked if we fancied doing a tour. Without hesitation, everybody was up for it, 100 per cent. But you never know how well it’s going to do. London’s O2 is a massive venue, then there’s Birmingham, and Manchester. You know: are we gonna sell those out?
“Honestly, we are so proud that we managed to sell so many tickets, really, really fast. Yeah, we’re just really excited about it.”
Everybody loves S Club, of course. They bring so much fun, so much energy, so much presence. A generation of kids grew up on Bring It All Back, S Club Party, Two In A Million, Reach, Natural, Never Had A Dream Come True, Don’t Stop Movin’, Have You Ever, You, and Love Ain’t Gonna Wait For You. They were the band that dominated the charts at the end of the 1990s and into the early 2000s.
“Absolutely. I mean, this time round, I think all the kids that were kids when we first came out are now grown adults with their own kids…” That’s a lot of kids. Bradley laughs. “We want those original fans to introduce their kids to our music. They loved S Club growing up and they can bring them to the show. It’s fantastic. We’re so proud and honoured to be a part of something that meant so much to people when they were growing up. It’s just fantastic. That’s why 25 years later we can put on a show. It’s people who are mid-20s up to late 30s, that’s the audience.”
Bradley, Jo, Jon, Rachel and Tina combined with the band’s original No.1 hit songwriting team of Cathy Dennis, Simon Ellis, Johanne Ellis and producer John Nathaniel for their new single. The track pays tribute to their former friend and beloved S Club member Paul Cattermole with a moving film story that ends with S Club revealed as the five-piece pop act that they are today.
Cattermole returned to the band in 2014 for their reunion tour and was originally due to return in 2023 for a planned second reunion tour. On 6 April 2023, he was found unresponsive at his Dorset home and was pronounced dead later that day. He was 46 years old and the cause of death was later revealed to be natural causes, specifically heart failure. Tributes came in from other groups of S Club 7’s era, as well as from manager Simon Fuller.
S Club, now down to five members after the departure of Hannah Spearitt, released These Are the Days in memory of Cattermole. The tour, which has been renamed S Club: The Good Times Tour, is also a tribute to Paul, having taken its name from an S Club song and a big fan favourite on which he sang lead vocals.
It’s a time to look forward, however, and Bradley is mindful of the incredible ride that the band enjoyed, at the end of the 20th century.
“It’s a weird one actually because I can’t say it went really quickly. I’d say we did so much in such a short time. It was five years, maybe six, with one year of prep then five years in the public eye. We were doing so much constantly there was never a dull moment. We had hardly any time off. We were constantly flying backwards and forwards.
“What made us so different from other bands was that we had a TV show. We did the album, we’d film our music, and that was incorporated into the TV show. So we’d record the songs, then we’d fly to America, do the TV show and once the TV show was finished we’d fly home. We’d promote the album, promote the TV show, and once that was done we’d fly back to America to record, do another TV and start it all again.
“We had four seasons of TV shows, a couple of hour-long specials, then we had our feature movie as well. So in that five years, with promoting, doing TV shows, and touring, it was so much. You don’t really process it until after. People say: ‘Do you know you had Beanie Babies?’ No. I didn’t. I’ve just discovered that we did.
“I’m very proud, very, very proud.
“When I was a bit younger, I always wanted to be cool. Some people didn’t consider S Club as being very cool back then. I’m from south London and I loved r’n’b and hip hop and there I was, in this pop group.
“But I enjoyed the music. I’m from a musical background and love all kinds of music. When we were younger, the press used to call us teeny boppers, and a manufactured band. But now that we’re a bit older, we’re pop icons, we’re pop legends – and that’s great.”
Bradley was destined for success, from day one. His dad, Steve, used to be in a band called The Cool Notes, a pop-funk group who had a string of chart hits between 1984 and 1986. They formed in south London and were best known for their hit, Spend The Night. His mum, Lorraine McIntosh, was similarly successful, lining up with Bomb The Bass, Jamiroquai, and others as she too carved out a high-functioning career as a singer.
He got his break with S Club, who were formed by Fuller. Collectively, S Club amassed four UK number one singles with ‘Bring It All Back’, ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’, ‘Don’t Stop Movin’, and ‘Have You Ever’, as well as the UK number one album ‘7’. They recorded four studio albums, released 11 singles that all entered the Top 5 UK charts, and went on to sell over 10 million albums worldwide. With four multi-platinum selling albums, two BRIT Awards, and nine number-one international hit singles to their name, S Club is a household name that is once again ready to rise. And, in Bradley’s case, it wasn’t just Fuller – but also his mum and dad – who helped pave the way.
“My dad was in a soul band, back in the day. My mum and dad were in bands. I saw them on Top of the Pops when I was growing up. They had a big hit, Spend The Night, and my mum went onto be in Bomb The Bass and did Baby Don’t Make Me Wait. Then she went onto do vocals with Rod Stewart and Jamiroquai – people like that.
“So I’ve always been around music and they’ve just been such a huge inspiration to me. To be a part of something like S Club is just a dream. They were just supportive. They have been the most supportive. My dad has been my rock – you know, and my mum. There are no favourites. The first thing my dad said to me when I got into the industry was this. He said: ‘Son, there are two things. First, I want you to have fun. Second, just remember, nobody likes a big head’.”
For all the sunshine, of course, there have been plenty of times when S Club was exhausting and difficult – that’s life, whether you’re a plumber, a painter and decorator, or a pop star. And S Club were no different. There were criticisms of Simon Fuller, there were financial issues, there were a gamut of issues that come with being in one of the UK’s most successful pop bands of all time. Through it all, Bradley was able to turn to his parents.
“They were great. 100 per cent. My friends were so supportive too. We went off on this massive journey and all of a sudden we came home and there was stardom. People knew our names. But my friends didn’t change. I remember the first we came home from filming Miami 7 and I was sitting in my mate’s room and I said: ‘I’m gonna be on TV in a minute’.
“And we were all sitting round. And they were like: ‘What?’ And I said: ‘Yeah, I’m gonna be on BBC’.
“We stopped what we were doing – we were playing video games, we were playing FIFA. So we turned on the TV and they laughed at me for a second. ‘What’s going on?’
“And then we turned the TV off and carried on playing FIFA. So every time I came home, my friends just treated me like Bradley. There was never any Mr Celebrity, there was no teasing. They just treated me normal and that kept me grounded, which is very important.”
These Are The Days has been well received – though it’s funny to think of S Club as being veterans as they adapt to the digital age in which the record was recorded.
“It’s all changed. The producer was in Canada so we were doing Zoom sessions. It was mind-blowing. It was good fun. It doesn’t feel strange for us to come back together and be in a studio. It’s like, we’ve got this connection, so it doesn’t feel weird. It doesn’t feel like we’ve spent time apart.”
It’s time to wrap up, but there’s still a little time to reflect on the good times – and to get the party started.
“The chemistry is still there. It’s great. We’re going on tour. The tour’s around the corner and we’re not that far away from it– especially Birmingham. Our very last show is in Birmingham and that’s always one of the most important shows. It’s sad to say goodbye to the tour but there’s always an energy and a buzz and we know there’s going to be a massive party afterwards. So Birmimgham – come and see us, I think there’s a few tickets left.”
We will, Bradley, you can be sure of that – because there ain’t no party like an S Club party.