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In April 2018, Billboard declared Back Here, British trio BBMAK’s most iconic hit, one of the top ten boy band songs of all time. It was a moment that spearheaded the band’s return to the live stage, and the release of their first album in 17 years, Powerstation.
At a family gathering attended by Mark Barry, Christian Burns and Stephen McNally, the group picked up a guitar to reminisce and celebrate their international career. Following the posting of an online video filmed during the impromptu performance, and spurred on by their fans’ reaction, the BBMAK reunion was in full swing.
Having fully relaunched their live career in the United States at the end of 2018, the trio are now preparing for their first UK headline shows in almost two decades. Christian Burns, back in the UK visiting family ahead of the shows, couldn’t be more excited. “I’m feeling great,” he beams as the shows loom close. “We can’t wait to do the shows in the UK, it’s been a while.” His enthusiasm is infectious, clearly loving every minute back with his BBMAK brothers. “We couldn’t be more thrilled,” he adds. “It’s going to be great.”
Preparing to play headline shows in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, and promising a balance between the new and the old, Christian Burns – who has spent the time in-between working with some of the biggest global electronic artists and writing Grammy Award nominated songs – opens up about reuniting with BBMAK, releasing Powerstation, and looks towards 2020.
How does it feel to be back on these stages?
It’s been incredible. We’ve had such a warm welcome, it’s almost been overwhelming. The fans have been with us for all those years. We were excited to do all this again, but we didn’t know if anyone would remember us or if anyone cared. The response has been incredible. We’ve got the BBMAK street team who were with us back in the day, 20 years ago. They used to help us promote shows back in the old days, and they’ve got themselves back together again. There’s a thousand of them online now. It’s an overwhelming response and we couldn’t be happier.
How did you prepare yourself to be back out again after 17 years?
It’s definitely different. 20 years later we’ve all experienced a lot of life, we’ve got a lot more to write about. There’s also a lot of different ways of doing things. We obviously have social media now, which we never had that back in the day. It’s different, but we are doing it all independently this time. We’re in control, and we’re doing it based around our lives and our families. We’re happy to be back and to have that control as well.
Was the idea of control important to you when deciding to reform?
We just wanted to make sure it was really enjoyable for all of us. It’s not that we are control freaks or anything, we just want to make sure that we are always happy with everything and aren’t doing anything we don’t want to do. We just want to do it all independently, and we can do that in this day and age. With social media you can have that direct link to the fans, so why not.
What can fans expect from these headline shows then?
They can expect a lot of the old classics, all of the favourites, some of the new songs and a few surprises. It’s going to be a good time, it’s quite intimate. We’ve had a great time with the show in America and had some great feedback, so we couldn’t be more excited to be back in the UK to do the shows now.
How does it feel to have new material out there?
The reaction has been amazing. Obviously when you go to watch a band you haven’t seen in 20 years you don’t want to hear two hours of new songs, so we’ve got the balance just right with the new and old songs. But we love playing the new songs as well.
How is the experience of playing songs from two decades ago?
The weird thing is when we started rehearsals, we kind of remembered them all, the harmonies and everything. It was 2003 when we did our last show together so 17 years later to be able to remember everything, it’s like muscle memory. We were shocked.
We’ve now tidied it up a bit, changed a few things, and on the whole, it’s been a joyful experience getting it all ready for the show.
We’ve literally been having the best time. We’ve been driving the people-carrier, doing the shows, and having the most amazing time. It’s been such a laugh. We’re really happy to be back.
What made now the right time to reform?
We stayed in touch over the years. We never fell out or anything like that. A couple of years ago the boys came round for my sister’s birthday party, and my dad’s guitar was there. For a laugh, for old time’s sake, we got the guitar and had a go at playing Back Here and it was great.
I put a video of it on Facebook and it went crazy. We hadn’t decided at that point to do an album or anything like that, but after that we decided to write together again and here we are.
Is there more in the pipeline?
Well, we have Powerstation, the album, out now. Next year there will definitely be a lot more music. We’ve already written a bunch of songs already. We are working behind the scenes on music videos, new songs and ideas, so yeah, a lot more to come in 2020.
Catch BBMAK when the play headline shows in the UK on the following dates:
12 December 2019 – O2 Academy Islington, London
13 December 2019 – O2 Institude3, Birmingham
15 December 2019 – Manchester Academy 3, Manchester
16 December 2019 – Oran Mor, Glasgow
Remaining tickets for BBMAK are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.