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Steps’ Claire Richards SLAMS record label for the iconic pop group’s treatment during 90s heyday and admits to ‘frictions’ behind the scenes with her bandmates

Steps’ Claire Richard has criticized record companies for the grueling way the band was treated during its 1990s heyday.

The singer, 46, was a member of the hugely successful group alongside Lee Latchford-Evans, 48, Lisa Scott-Lee, 47, Faye Tozer, 47, and Ian ‘H’ Watkins, 47, and topped the charts between 1997 and 2002 . , before reunification in 2011.

Speaking about the Table manners podcast Claire explained that the band, who were represented by half a dozen labels throughout their career, would only have two weeks off a year at the height of their fame and said it was ‘work work work’.

“There was no respite at all, I think the most time we ever had off was maybe two weeks and that would have been it.”

She was concerned about the lack of attention to the group’s well-being, saying: “The rest of the time someone sits in a record company office making the schedule, without thinking about the people on the other side of the agenda .

Claire Richard, 46, of Steps has criticized record companies for the grueling way the band was treated during its 1990s heyday

Claire Richard, 46, of Steps has criticized record companies for the grueling way the band was treated during its 1990s heyday

The singer was a member of the hugely successful group alongside Lee Latchford-Evans, 48, Lisa Scott-Lee, 47, Faye Tozer, 47, and Ian 'H' Watkins, 47, and topped the charts between 1997 and 2002 before he reunited.  2011 (photo 1998)

The singer was a member of the hugely successful group alongside Lee Latchford-Evans, 48, Lisa Scott-Lee, 47, Faye Tozer, 47, and Ian 'H' Watkins, 47, and topped the charts between 1997 and 2002 before he reunited.  2011 (photo 1998)

The singer was a member of the hugely successful group alongside Lee Latchford-Evans, 48, Lisa Scott-Lee, 47, Faye Tozer, 47, and Ian ‘H’ Watkins, 47, and topped the charts between 1997 and 2002 before he reunited. 2011 (photo 1998)

She also revealed how the workload and behind-the-scenes ‘frictions’ with her bandmates led to the group’s initial split.

“I think ultimately it’s probably just burnout, you know, there were frictions and there were just things that I guess happened that became huge because we were so compressed all the time.”

The band reunited in 2011 and have since released four albums, as well as five tours, including one to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

As they discussed their boozy antics backstage, she said, “Well, it’s mostly wine. Normally there are two bottles of prosecco, a few bottles of rosé and white, we don’t have any red, and it used to be a bottle of gin and some tonics for ‘H’, but now he has tequila.”

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Claire previously reflected on leaving the band after her explosive departure with H, revealing she was ’embarrassed’ by their dwindling success, despite the band claiming they split to ‘leave on a high’.

Only later was it publicly revealed that the duo had left before the split.

Speaking to Vicky Pattison on her The Secret To podcast, she said: “I think the reason why H and I left in the end was a build-up to all of that. [small and constant arguing]…

“You know when you’re around somewhere [I’m a Celebrity] Jungle or Big Brother, everything is compounded into something big because you can’t escape it..

Claire explained that the band, who were represented by half a dozen labels throughout their career, would only have two weeks off a year at the height of their fame, saying it was 'work work work' (photo 2000).

Claire explained that the band, who were represented by half a dozen labels throughout their career, would only have two weeks off a year at the height of their fame, saying it was 'work work work' (photo 2000).

Claire explained that the band, who were represented by half a dozen labels throughout their career, would only have two weeks off a year at the height of their fame, saying it was ‘work work work’ (photo 2000).

She also revealed how the workload and 'frictions' behind the scenes with her bandmates led to the group's first split (photo 2017)

She also revealed how the workload and 'frictions' behind the scenes with her bandmates led to the group's first split (photo 2017)

She also revealed how the workload and ‘frictions’ behind the scenes with her bandmates led to the group’s first split (photo 2017)

Claire previously reflected on leaving the band after her explosive departure with H, revealing she was 'embarrassed' by their declining success, despite the band claiming they split to 'leave on a high' ( Claire and H in 2002)

Claire previously reflected on leaving the band after her explosive departure with H, revealing she was 'embarrassed' by their declining success, despite the band claiming they split to 'leave on a high' ( Claire and H in 2002)

Claire previously reflected on leaving the band after her explosive departure with H, revealing she was ’embarrassed’ by their declining success, despite the band claiming they split to ‘leave on a high’ ( Claire and H in 2002)

The band reunited in 2011 and have since released four albums, as well as five tours, including one to celebrate their 25th anniversary (seen in 2017).

The band reunited in 2011 and have since released four albums, as well as five tours, including one to celebrate their 25th anniversary (seen in 2017).

The band reunited in 2011 and have since released four albums, as well as five tours, including one to celebrate their 25th anniversary (seen in 2017).

‘We have three top 10 singles, but the album didn’t score very high. I was traumatized by that. I felt so ashamed. […] The last things we had to do, I just said, ‘I’m not doing it. I can not do it. I’m too ashamed’.

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‘After that I think I went into hiding a bit and did nothing for years […] After the wedding and all, I remember sitting down and thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t know what to do with myself’…

“And I probably spent a few years on the bench.”

During the chat, Claire revealed her heartbreaking battle with anorexia after cruel comments from record executives in the 1990s.

She told how she developed an eating disorder when she was fed a 900-calorie-a-day diet of fish fingers and peas.

Having been in the band The Scan-Dolls before finding fame with Steps, Claire’s weight problems came from the very beginning of her career when she was tasked with shedding pounds despite being a size 10-12.

The 1990s saw the rise of the ‘Heroin Chic’ look, pioneered by Kate Moss, in which frighteningly thin silhouettes were desired among the stars – something Claire revealed was enforced by her record label when she was told she needed to lose pounds.

After starting her battle in The Scan-Dolls, Claire revealed: “It happened when I was in TSD. They did it to all of us because we were all pretty round girls. I probably was one [size] 10 or a 12 and wasn’t big at all […]

Claire revealed her heartbreaking battle with anorexia after cruel comments from record executives in the 1990s (pictured in 1999)

Claire revealed her heartbreaking battle with anorexia after cruel comments from record executives in the 1990s (pictured in 1999)

Claire revealed her heartbreaking battle with anorexia after cruel comments from record executives in the 1990s (pictured in 1999)

She explained that Kate Moss' 'heroin chic' look was at the heart of the problem (Kate pictured in 1995)

She explained that Kate Moss' 'heroin chic' look was at the heart of the problem (Kate pictured in 1995)

She explained that Kate Moss’ ‘heroin chic’ look was at the heart of the problem (Kate pictured in 1995)

Her weight became synonymous with her stardom after she openly discussed going from 'dangerously thin' to obese - tipping the scales at 16.5 at her heaviest (Claire pictured in 2013)

Her weight became synonymous with her stardom after she openly discussed going from 'dangerously thin' to obese - tipping the scales at 16.5 at her heaviest (Claire pictured in 2013)

Her weight became synonymous with her stardom after she openly discussed going from ‘dangerously thin’ to obese – tipping the scales at 16.5 at her heaviest (Claire pictured in 2013)

“But in the music world and at that time, the whole Kate Moss, heroin chic thing was a thing and they wanted everyone to be really, really thin…

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‘So we were all put on a diet. That diet was interesting because we were encouraged to eat fish fingers, peas and baked beans and eat a diet of around 900 calories.’

The NHS guidelines state that women should consume around 2,000 calories a day, while men need more and should have around 2,500.

Upon meeting Steps and being impressed, she continued, “The audition for Steps was ’97 and by then I had cut my hair really short and stupid, and I was wearing a striped catsuit that I wore in the video for “The last thing on my mind.”

‘And I always tie a hoodie around my waist, because I was really conscious of my butt, because I thought I had a huge butt…

“They sat me down, did my audition and said, ‘Oh, we really like you. We want you to be in the band, but you’re going to have to lose weight.” […] it set me on a path where I didn’t really eat for four and a half years.”

She continued, “Yeah, I mean, I still haven’t succeeded [regain my confidence]. I think I’m much better than I was. But I don’t think I’ll ever completely get rid of it, because it’s been such a big part of my life for so long…

“And I think I was probably anorexic. You know, I managed to kind of stop what I was doing to myself, but it went from not eating at all to overeating.”

Her weight became synonymous with her stardom after she openly discussed going from ‘dangerously thin’ to obese – tipping the scales at 16.5 at her heaviest.

She placed 4th and rose to size 20 after Steps and in 2017 she lost 6th, showing that she stays in shape by limiting herself to around 1,000 calories per day and snacking on small portions of yoghurt and fruit.

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