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"We are a band—that's what we're
all about."
——Ste McNally
BB MAK IS BACK
Time to Get Into the Heads of BB Mak
With HITS' Shirley Halperin
They're a threesome of sexy British lads with perfectly pitched, instantly recognizable harmonies. They craft their own pop hooks, well-suited for a sing-along anywhere, anytime. The girls love them, but so do their moms. No, we're not talking about the Bee Gees. For 2002, we have BBMak.

Formed in Liverpool in the late ’90s, BBMakMark Barry, Christian Burns and Ste McNally—first began making waves across the Atlantic when the band was picked up by Hollywood Records. In spring 2000, they released their debut album, Sooner or Later, and embarked on a massive promotional tour. There were weeks where you could catch BBMak performing at a radio show in the Northeast one day, at Disney World the next, opening for NSYNC over the weekend, and doing 10 rounds of press in between. But their efforts paid off as Sooner or Later spawned two hit singles ("Back Here" and "Still By Your Side"), a TRL favorite ("Ghost of You and Me") and assured their status as teenpop princes. The band’s new album, Into Your Head, comes out on Tuesday (8/27), is a more sophisticated effort that marks the guy’s evolution from boys to men. But as the first single, "Out of My Heart," clearly shows, the Mak is back on the attack and moving in on HITS’ own pop idol, Shirley "Hamburger" Halperin.

You were one of the few British bands on the U.S. charts last summer, when "Back Here" and "Ghost of You and Me" were in heavy rotation. It’s been tough on U.K. pop-rock imports lately.
Mark Barry:
Yeah, we heard that. We got phone calls saying, "C’mon back, lads!" We’ve come back to sort all that out.

Has a cultural divide grown up between the U.S. and British pop scenes?
Christian Burns:
Honestly, I don’t think that a lot of British bands are really prepared to do the necessary work. England is so small that you can be really successful touring for just a couple of weeks. In America, we spent a whole year doing everything we could to sell albums and get on the charts. With the exception of Craig David, I don’t think there’s many bands in the U.K. that are prepared to put in the effort.
Mark: Bands like Westlife, who are huge in the U.K., come over to America for maybe a month. After a month with nothing happening, they start getting cold feet and think, " I better get back to England where I’m loved." They don’t want to risk losing that fan base.

You've opened for NSYNC on the "Celebrity" tour and Britney Spears the following fall. Do you prefer playing in arenas to theaters?
Mark:
Remember, we started off in smaller venues and worked our way up. But, yes, we were playing with Britney Spears to 20,000 people and with NSYNC to 70,000. And then there was the Corrs tour in Europe, so we've played to all different scales, and kinds of, of audiences.

You don't always have the luxury of a full band. More often, I've seen you play with just a couple of acoustic guitars.
Mark:
Yeah, you can’t even compare the two. But sometimes if you’ve got to fly to do a show, logistically it’s impossible to have a live band—especially with radio shows, where you’ve got three headliners. Wherever possible, this year more than ever, we’re bringing the entire band out.
Ste McNally: We are a band—that's what we're all about. Bands don’t go out on-stage and play to a track.
Christian: You don’t see the Goo Goo Dolls just miming with the two of them at the front.

Is it true that when you started out, you played in front of record company buildings in London in hopes of getting a label guy to notice you?
Christian:
We stayed all night just to be there in the morning when people came in. We didn’t want to miss the head of the record company.
Mark: We didn’t know what he actually looked like, we would just sing and hope he would walk by. We went to Sony Records in London carrying this book with all these record company contact numbers and names. We went in and said we had a meeting with Tommy Mottola. We didn’t realize that he was in New York. And they were like, "Really?" It was quite funny. I think a lot of record companies admired the cheekiness of us just going and doing it.

It did work.
Mark:
Yeah, when we got to the U.K. label that eventually signed us, we had no appointment; we just turned up there. The girl from the A&R department looked at us and thought, "What do we have to lose by seeing them for five minutes?" So that’s what kicked it off. The thing is, we didn’t know that’s not what people do.
Christian: Getting a deal actually took us a long time. We’ve been together for six years; for more than two years, we were without a record deal playing crummy clubs for no money just to be seen. We got a little demo tape together, bought three train tickets to London, went out and knocked on record companies’ doors. We just pestered people to come and see us. We couldn’t afford to stay in hotels, so we stayed on a friend’s floor. It’s been a fantastic ride in the last couple of years—from having nothing to getting a deal, going into the studio, releasing an album and touring. It’s been everything we’ve wanted it to be.

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