Living in some seclusion (though not in secrecy) in a house just outside of London are Rich Neville, Scott Robinson, Abs Breen, J Brown and Sean Conlon. This tough crew of streetwise guys is known as 5, a singing and rapping group determined to change the face of music with loads of rhythm, boundless energy and their mischievous sense of humor.
Over the past year, 5 have been living together in a raucous environment and perfecting their explosive sound. Out of the roughhousing comes an edge that combines danceable depth and sensitive layers, something like a friendly riot going on. In England, 5’s upbeat approach to life and making music is well-chronicled. In 1997 they were voted “Best New Band” by Smash Hits magazine. Their most recent single, “When the Lights Go Out,” entered the UK charts at #4. It follows up “Slam Dunk (Da Funk),” a hip-hop inspired UK Top 10 hit. The album is co-written and produced by hot producers Denniz Pop, Cutfather & Joe and Max Martin.
Unlike other young groups, 5 is not solely into singing love ballads or blowing out their guitar amps on cue. “We’re just five guys trying to make something of ourselves,” explains Rich. “We don’t want to be perceived as anything other than a band with wicked songs.” They share a collective enthusiasm for snowboarding, soccer, Play Station video games and girls.
At age 16 Sean, who hails from Leeds, is the youngest guy in the group. From a musically inclined family, he started singing at age four, dancing at age nine, cut his first demo at 11 and won Yamaha’s Young Composer of the Year award at age 13 (a competition judged by Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Webber).
Scott is an 18 year-old guy from Essex who made his marks at the prestigious Sylvia Young Stage School and has been singing and dancing for as long as he can remember. He now concentrates his hyperactive energies on stage with 5.
Rich, also 18, was trained in drama at the exclusive private school he attended in Birmingham. This led to roles in the National Youth Theater, tempered by stints in a couple of hard rock bands. It’s not surprising to hear that his heroes include actor Sean Connery and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
Abs is 5’s third 18 year-old, an experienced rapper, singer and DJ who was raised in London and attended the Italia Conti Stage School. The physical challenges presented by the group push all of his buttons, so when he isn’t busy DJing jungle music or working out in the gym he’s probably just accepted a dare to go skydiving or bungee jumping.
At age 21, Cheshire’s Jay is the oldest, the loudest, the bossiest and the most sensible member of the group. He’s an experienced rapper and singer who performed with rap crews prior to joining 5. Now, he maintains a recording studio in his bedroom so he can work out rhythms and tracks whenever he’s inspired.
“We all love music full stop,” says Rich, “but we all have our own individual tastes. Rich sticks with straight-ahead rock like Pearl Jam and Nirvana, while Scott gravitates towards bands like No Doubt. Abs is into underground dance music, while Jay is all about hip-hop and Sean is into the soul music of the Isley Brothers and Marvin Gaye.