"Not everyone in the band sees eye-to-eye," he says
Want a Brit Award, but lack the talent it takes to acquire one? eBay is your friend. Paul Cattermole of noughties pop titans S Club 7, who in their heyday shifted more than 10 million records thanks to smash-hit singles such as ‘Reach’ and the group’s TV show Miami 7, has just sold his Best Newcomer gong that the band received in 2000 – and it went for a whopping £66,100. Naturally, he then listed the Best British Single trophy that the band was awarded for ‘Don’t Stop Movin’’ in 2002. At the time of writing, it’s stalled at £65,900 with eight days to go.
We called Paul to ask how that feels, and found him to be funny, warm and self-aware, cackling at the ludicrousness of life in and out of the limelight.
Congratulations on selling the award, Paul – you must be delighted!
The amount of messages has absolutely overwhelmed me – I’ve spent about 40 or 50 hours answering them. I have really enjoyed the process. A lot of people have been saying to me: ‘Fair play to you, mate, sorry to hear you’re having difficult financial times.’ I expected it to go for anything five to 10 [thousand]. I’ll be honest, if it had gone for that, I would have been happy. It just started going crazy. Four days from it going up, it hadn’t really moved much from around £3,000. And then it went to £9,000. Within the space of an hour, it went up to £60,000!
How much do you know about the person who bought it?
I know that they live very, very far away. I know the guy – he’s a fan; I’ve seen his name on social media. The fact that it’s gone to a fan is awesome. But he’s well over a 10-hour flight away, so the hand-delivery situation is a bit difficult [Paul offered to do a meet-and-greet and hand-deliver the item when the price rocketed]. Do you know how much I’ve been ribbed about that on social media!?
People are also eBaying drawings of your eBay listing, aren’t they?
Yeah! I put them on social media thinking: ‘Oh, bless’. Some of them are doing it for charity. But it goes deeper than that. Some people are selling screen shots of the drawings that are being sold. Someone took photos of an Action Man with an award in his hand and sold that too [laughs].
Why are you selling the award?
When I was doing The Rocky Horror Picture Show [the stage adaptation with Diana Vickers, which toured across the UK] a year ago, I was injured in quite a bad way. There an un-choreographed bit of dancing [that went wrong] and someone fell on me. I was out of the show for about two months. My back has gone – it hasn’t been right since. Things just haven’t gone well this year [in terms of finding work] with that injury.
Do you have much of an emotional attachment to the awards?
A friend sent me a YouTube link to when the ‘Best Single’ award was handed out onstage. We were doing a show in Scotland and the Brits were in London. Frank Skinner presented the show and Simon Cowell came on to reveal the winner. Then the camera cut to Tess Daley handing us the award onstage – I didn’t remember it happening like that. I did get a little bit emotional when I saw us as kids.
Did you have any second thoughts about selling them?
Someone said to me, ‘Why don’t you just not sell the awards and just go into the jungle [on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!]?’ I have asked them many times if they will let me in and they won’t have me. I’m not famous enough, apparently. But when you look at some of the people they put in, it really is extended friends of famous people. Cousins of friends. I’ve been told this by many of these reality TV shows – they just don’t want me. They could easily have put me in the jungle. Or the dancing one. Or the ice one [laughs].
Did you enjoy the 2015 ‘Bring It All Back’ reunion tour with the whole S Club 7 line-up?
It was difficult. Not everyone in the band sees eye-to-eye. There was a fall-out over whether we should be doing a dance troupe, Diversity-type show with choreography to backing tracks, or do what we’ve always done and have a live band. I was being forceful about the live music to the point where I upset some people. It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have pushed it so hard. There was even shouting.
Was there anything you liked about that time?
I had been declared bankrupt, but it was annulled because I paid it off with the earnings from that tour. Hardly anyone ever pays it off. It cost me everything. I paid £36,000 to HMRC but the lawyers’ fees were about 40-something. I didn’t let anyone down on not paying my share. We would be playing in arenas to 20,000 people just after I’d had conversations on the phone like: ‘We need £10,000 right now!” Then I’d have to go out and do ‘Reach For The Stars’ [laughs].
You sometimes tour with S Club 3, which seems to have a bit of a revolving line-up…
Me and Bradley were doing it for about two years – and then Jo came along. That bully from Essex came along and bullied her way into the situation [laughs]. “You know what I am, Paul – I’m the anchor in this band.” I think you missed a W there! No, I’m half mucking about, half serious. We do actually get on. Bradley’s Dad manages that [S Club 3] situation, so when the opportunity came to bring Tina in and make it a three that way, I found myself not getting booked as much.
Did you make much money out of the original run?
No, not really. In the first year, we made about 25 grand. We made about 36 the second, and then about 40-something the third and 50-something in the fourth year. Then the contract ran out and there was a renewal of the contract to film the movie, Seeing Double, and that was actually a lot. That was the first time we’d ever been offered a six-figure sum. But that’s the bit I didn’t do; that’s when I left.
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There were six figures on the table, though!
I wouldn’t change my decision. The six-figure sum wasn’t that much for doing something that was that big, globally, at that point in time. Do you know how much money was coming in? Millions and millions and millions and millions. There were TV shows being erected off the back of us. Popworld was made off the money we were making. Hear’Say – that whole show [Popstars] was funded by us. S Club 7 funded reality TV, basically. It was started off the back of us. In the end, we will easily have ended up bringing in over a billion quid. You know how The Office went international and they went on and on about it? It didn’t do as well as our show did.
How do you feel towards Simon Fuller [S Club manager, who also managed Take That and created Pop Idol] now?
I think that it’s all in the past. But it’s not a fair way of [doing things]. When there’s that much money coming in, you’ve got to look out for the troops on the ground. If you’re making 20-year-old kids work every single day of the week, you’ve gotta make sure they’re paid well.
What will you do with the money from your Brit Award?
Just less than half of it will go on paying the bills. But what do you think I should spend the rest of it on? I’ve always wanted to record a covers album. I know it’s a cliché to do it, but the reason people do it is that they sell. It is something that does sell in the music industry these days. I’ve actually always wanted to do a Motown album. Polydor bought the Motown back catalogue at the end of the ‘90s and they were our label, so I should ask if I can record some of them.