With So Solid Crew's career in tatters it seems Blazin Squad are in a similar position to the Juniors when S Club split. With a new single "Flip Reverse" which sounds like a prime cut from Nelly, only better because we don't have the Adam Ant of hip hop fronting it, and an album to follow which builds on the best tracks from their debut album it seems like Blazin Squad are proving their detractors wrong. Designer Magazine caught up with the Squads pin-up calendar boy Strider to find out about the women in every city and to see how many of the "Things To Do By The Time Your Twenty" list he's actually done so far.
Q: New single "Flip Reverse" carries on the hip hop theme of "We Be Dreemin". Conscious move away from the Garage to hip hop then?
A: I think it was like cos music has sort of changed now. Like garage has gone now, it's disappearing. I think hip hop has more come, 50 Cent has come in and sold a lot of records and I think people are starting to like the hip and even people like Rachel Stephens are using hip hop sort of beats for their songs. "Flip Reverse" has got a very american hip hop sound but we've done British rapping over it to bring our vibe onto some new tracks
Q: Despite how people know you guys, you've always been into hip hop, garage and R&B. How do you feel when you see someone like Posh Spice bringing out a hip hop track?
A: I dunno, it's hard really. She's working with big people like Damon Dash and that isn't she and she's lucky to be working with the top people. If they come out with good music then I'll respect them really.
We've been working with people like Dennis Ingleby, Snowflake, JD from So Solid and we've produced one on there as well. I think were trying to concentrate on England at the moment, but we are gonna go to Europe as well. America is a big thing for us to do, but we've gotta concentrate here first.
Q: We've seen you on a couple of occasions. Roadshows and then the first headline tour you did. Do you ever get used to the surreal atmosphere of the live shows?
A: It's very weird when were on stage. When we did our own tour earlier in the year you know all those people are there just to see you. Our fans are pretty mad as well. They throw things on stage like thongs and teddies and that. You get a really good buzz.
It's been just over a year now and we think of all the stuff we've done. But we'd have never thought we was going to do stuff like that, like performing in gig arena's, front covers of magazine, on TV...we never thought we'd do stuff like that but we have an it's been good for us.
Q: The whole issue of growing up in the public spotlight. Most of you are coming up to 18. When you first started you'd just left school. How is it growing up in the spotlight and keeping this clean cut image up?
A: We did just leave school and we came straight into the industry. We've matured into adult culture and adult industry. We've learnt a lot during our time in Blazin Squad. Like we know how to produce and stuff now. With us we treat every day as a laugh because i'm with 9 of my mates and we just have a big laugh and treat our job as social.
Q: When you go back home and you've got a week off. You see your normal mates who aren't in the industry - do you miss the normal things that 17 or 18 year old lads would be doing like getting p*ssed in the park and sh*gging down some alleyway?
A: You do miss the old stuff, but I was sitting here today bored. With not working I didn't have a clue what to do. All my mates that I never see were at college so I was just sitting at home and I thought I might as well get a DVD out. It is hard because you don't really see your old mates as much as you used to and when you get your time off they're doing their own thing cos they've got their own life. You do miss the old stuff (laughs).
Q: Apart from the music it is the ladies you spend most of your time thinking about. Guilt as charged?
A: Definitely. Were nearly 18 so we don't wanna get tied down yet. Touring is the best part though yer know, girl in every town.
Q: After the last Manchester Apollo date I was on the message board and the stories I heard about you guys.
A: On our website you just read stuff and you think oh my god. We used to go on there and have a little look and you just think you can't even go on there. There are a lot of rumours that go on there, it's mad when you read the stuff on there. Once we went on there and it said that all of us had died in a coach crash and there was a whole article about it and there were frenzies about it.
Q: What's the maddest thing a fan has suggested to you guys?
A: They've said loads, mad stuff. 3 girls have come up to me and had my name tattooed on their back and that. One was on their arm, one was on their back. It's like oh my god what you doin', but you can't say nuthin cos they got it their for life. It is weird, but you gotta say thanks.
Q: With 10 of you in the Squad is there any jealousy. Like you and Kenzie always get the frontcovers basically.
A: Any time anyone says Strider and Kenzie they all laugh. They all just think it's funny. We all treat it that whatever happens it's for the band innit and were all good mates and we get on with it.
Q: When you're growing up there's a list of things you gotta do. Things you done by 20, things you done by you're 30 etc. What have you ticked of so far on the list of things?
A: I can't really say really (laughs)...I'm nearly there. Nearly done all of them.
"Flip Reverse" is out now on East West
Blazin Squad play the Trafford Centre on November 7th
The band's rescheduled tour now kicks off in March 2004
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