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And the man behind AllSTARS and a1 brands Hear'Say "dull, average and ugly"...

The man behind STEPS, AllSTARS and a1 has issued a special request for NME.COM users to join his new band – while launching a shocking attack on the “dull, average, ugly” HEAR’SAY.

Manager Tim Byrne, whose background includes senior roles at music shows such as ‘The Word’ and BBC2’s seminal ‘Def II’ strand, is calling for musicians and singers to form the house band for BBC1’s forthcoming rival to ‘CD:UK’, but insists that potential entrants can’t be from the Steps school of pop performance.

“We’re casting the net wide and we want a real band,” he tells NME.COM. “If it’s a hybrid of Travis, Wheatus, Limp Bizkit and Texas then all the better.

“We’ve been auditioning today and one of the blokes was a punk drummer, and he’s one of the best people. The musicians really have to be musicians. Kids are buying Gorillaz, Limp Bizkit and Eminem records as much as they are traditional pop music.”

“For this new Saturday show, the BBC realise very strongly that ‘SM:TV’ and ‘CD:UK’ have been perfoming really well and that ‘Live &

Kicking’ needed to move on. They came up with the idea for the show, and the key element is this quite cool, alternative band. We’re looking for cutting-edge musicians, basically.”

“And I want to make it quite clear that we’re definitely not looking for another Heresy,” he adds, referring to the UK’s ‘Popstars’ band. “Noel, Danny, Kym, Myleene and the other one are not welcome at the auditions – they’re dreadful. The whole boy/girl thing is so oversubscribed now – and that ‘Popstars’ programme was just awful.”

Byrne also sees the relative lack of success experienced by AllSTARS‘ first single ‘Best Friends’, which skimmed the Top 20 last month, as being one symptom of Hear’say‘s success. “That show demysitifed something which is all about escapsim and having an element of mystique. And what did it achieve? Such average, dull people. They’re not even that good looking, either – it’s just really bad, it’s really tainted that part of pure pop and I want to go on record saying that about them.”

“Anyway, the band we’re putting together for this TV show will be nothing like any of that. The show’s going to be running 52 weeks a year and something will have to go horribly wrong for the group not to end up with a huge record deal at the end of it. It’s a great opportunity.”

Byrne is asking NME.COM users who fancy their chances, aged between 18 and 25, to send their tapes to Band Selector, PO Box 30881, London, W12 6WQ. More information is available at www.bbc.co.uk/talent.