Jimmy Constable, (seen here on the left), English pop singer, songwriter and dancer with the group 911, chats with Kevin Cooper about working on the TV show The Hitman and Her, 911’s split in 2000, appearing on The Big Reunion, and touring the UK with The Boys Are Back next year.

Jimmy Constable is an English pop singer, songwriter and dancer who is most famous for being in the pop band, 911.

Having begun his career in the early 1990’s as a dancer on the late night ITV dance show, The Hitman And Her, it was then that he met Simon ‘Spike’ Dawbarn and Jason Orange. Having seen Orange leave to join Take That, Constable and Dawbarn decided to form their own group, and when Lee Brennan joined them, 911 was born.

911 went on to sell over ten million singles and six million albums worldwide before they split in 2000. Not dealing very well with the situation, Constable turned to drink and drugs and on one occasion admits to contemplating suicide.

However, in 2006 he was asked to take part in the MTV series Totally Boyband, which involved ex-members of other boy bands forming a new band called Upper Street. Unfortunately, that was not a success and the band quickly disbanded.

In 2012 it was announced that 911 would be reuniting for an ITV2 documentary, The Big Reunion which also involved B*Witched, Five, Atomic Kitten, Honeyz and Liberty X, which saw a resurgence in their popularity.

Whilst busy preparing for a tour of Asia he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Jimmy, how are you?

I’m doing okay thanks Kevin, but more to the point how are you mate, alright?

I’m very well thanks for asking and before we move on let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

No worries, thank you for all of your support. We need all the help that we can get and it’s always good to get everybody on-board.

That’s nice of you to say but I have to be totally honest with you and say that if I had known that you were a scouser and a Liverpool fan to boot, I would never have agreed to this interview (laughter).

(Laughter) don’t tell me, you wouldn’t have taken my call?

Something like that (laughter). It goes back a long, long way from the good old days of Nottingham Forest versus Liverpool. We had some fantastic nights back in the day.

We did, I remember them well. I take it that you watched the game the other night?

Yes I did and what annoys me is that you get so called experts criticising the teams before a ball has even been kicked. They were representing the UK so be fair and get behind them.

Yes of course, I totally agree with what you are saying. I must admit that it wasn’t the best game that I have ever seen but we got the job done which was the main thing.

I think that most European finals are not that much of a spectacle. It’s all about winning and not about putting on a show for the fans. There is simply far too much at stake. No one wants to be the player who makes the mistake which costs their team the game.

I totally agree with you there, there is far too much pressure.

It was great to see four English clubs in both finals.

That’s right; it will be a very long time before that ever happens again

Well Nottingham Forest most certainly won’t be there whilst I’m still alive (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) I take it that you go to the games?

Man and boy for the last fifty years. I’ve spent thousands watching the club and all that I seem to be getting back at this moment in time is grief (laughter).

But that’s why we do it, it’s in the blood.

Anyway, enough about football, we really should talk about the forthcoming The Boys Are Back tour shouldn’t we?

(Laughter) if we have too.

Taking everything on board, just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Life at this moment in time is good. Things are a bit different from the old days in the 90s. Back then we were all young, free, single and travelling the world. Don’t get me wrong, it was great, but it had its pressures. However, this time around it’s fantastic. I’m now married with kids and I’m really in a happy place at the minute. This whole idea with the forthcoming tour is, in my opinion, a great idea and it will give a lot of people the opportunity to reminisce about the 90s. The whole retro thing is quite big at the moment and everyone appears to want to get out to one of these events, let their hair down and have a great time so yes, I really am in a great place at the moment.

I take it from the sound of your voice that you are obviously looking forward to being back out on the road?

Yes, I am but I have to say that it is really weird because as individuals we have naturally crossed paths with a lot of the other guys who are going to be with us on the tour, but for us to be under the same roof as Five, Damage, and A1, and performing on the same stage every night really is fantastic. However, the funny thing will be that our wives and kids will be along, so it will be our wives nattering, our kids playing together and me and the boys doing a little bit of work (laughter). In that respect it will be completely different from the old days.

And from the fans point of view it will be an evening full of hits.

Yes, that’s right. I don’t know exactly how many hits the four bands have had between them but there will certainly be a very long list. It really will be a fantastic night for everyone.

You have mentioned knowing the other guys on the tour, do you all get along?

Yes, we do and that really isn’t me rolling out the usual clichés. I’m not in the position where I have got to say that, but it is one of those situations where even in the old days, the Five lads came onto the scene a little later than 911, and we had by that time been around for five years, so even though we still did manage to cross paths, we never really knew each other in the midst of it all back in the 90s. However, six years ago now we did a TV show called The Big Reunion where we performed alongside the likes of Five, Atomic Kitten, B*Witched, Honeyz, Liberty X and Blue, and we all managed to spend some quality time together on the tour bus.

And I have to say that is how all of our friendships have developed, in so much as the wives and girlfriends all get along, the kids play together, and I have to say that there is no rivalry whatsoever. Every band that is on this forthcoming tour, in fact I would go as far to say that every band that we have ever come across, there has never been any rivalries whatsoever. Everyone is simply blessed and thankful to be able to do the job that we are still doing. We all get along and we all have a good laugh together.

You say that there are no rivalries but there must be a competitive edge to see just who can put on the best performance on the night?

Well what can I say, without a shadow of a doubt we are always the band who manage to put the best show on every night (laughter). You had best keep that between me and you (laughter). What can I say, everyone does their bit. The good thing in relation to the tour is that we are all very different bands; Five look after the rap side of things, A1 take care of the pop stuff, whilst Damage are the cool boys; they are the slick, urban guys. Each band has their own style of show and from our point of view we do a hell of a lot of break dancing and flips which we have done since day one. We have always said that if we were ever going to do this kind of thing then it would be all or nothing for us. And because of that we have all be in the gym getting ourselves fit ready to put on a good show.

I’m so glad that you have brought up the subject of dancing because I couldn’t possibly speak to you without mentioning The Hitman and Her which was a British television dance and music show hosted by Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan which ran from September 1988 until December 1992. How was it for you being a young dancer on the show?

(Laughter) wow, you are going back there a bit, aren’t you, Jesus? The Hitman and Her is really where it all started for us. As you have correctly pointed out, I was a dancer on the TV show and that is where I met Spike (Dawbarn) basically because we were the only two dancers that were around four feet tall (laughter). We kind of matched up well together. In all honesty I had a fantastic time while I was working on the show. I have bumped into Michaela (Strachan) and Pete (Waterman) a few times along the way, and we have all had a good laugh reminiscing about what it was like being in the nightclubs with all these very drunken people (laughter).

I really did have a fantastic time, and it started it all for us. One of the guys who used to dance with me was Jason Orange, until he left to join some dodgy band called Take That who to be honest, I don’t think that they really did much (laughter).

I know what you mean, they have to keep calling up Robbie (Williams) to bail them out don’t they?

(Laughter) that’s terrible, you are as bad as me (laughter).

Who has put the tour together; who is the brains behind it?

It is all down to a guy called Matt Winter from Loco Management and he has got everyone pulling together to make sure that this happens. He really is doing a fantastic job with this tour.

Yes, he is really doing a tremendous job because only last week you added another seven dates to the tour didn’t you?

That’s right, we did. The whole tour is selling well, and we are now up to thirty-seven dates and counting. They keep telling me not to book a holiday as they are continuing to add more dates which really is fantastic. Whenever you do these sorts of things nobody really knows just how things are going to go. However, when you get the right PR, the right marketing and everybody gets to know about it that is when you see how it sells and then suddenly, before you know it, you are adding dates. It really is amazing.

Now I appreciate that the tour is still a few months away, but I have to ask, what format will the show take? Will we be seeing you all onstage together at some time during the show?

To be totally honest with you we don’t know at this moment in time. The tour is still quite a bit in the future but in my opinion and from a structured point of view of the show, I think that it would be great if we could all interact. If 911 could come out onto the stage and do a song with Five or even mixing the whole night up, then I feel that would be great from a fans point of view. Obviously, there will be sections of the show where the bands will be performing their big hits and then hopefully, as you say, we will be able to get to a point in the night where we can all come together and perform a few songs together.

Judging by the number of hit songs that all of the bands have had during their respective careers, I guess that you will be sticking to the tried and tested songs and won’t be risking performing any new material?

When you think about all the people who are paying good money to come and see the show, they will all want to hear us performing the hits and they will want to see them being performed in their original format. Whenever they hear the hits, it takes them back to a time when they would get out a copy of Smash Hits lyrics magazine, whilst they were listening to the songs and singing along. It is all about the fans having a good time and reminiscing about their past; the good old days. They want to know that when they come to see us, and they hear a certain song, they will be transformed back in time to when they were fourteen or fifteen years old. That is what we must give them on the night. I personally don’t think that it would be right for us to turn up and play new music and songs; they have paid good money to come and see the hits and the band that they have liked since the 90s.

You are bringing the tour to the Royal Concert Hall here in Nottingham on Friday 13th March, and I have to say that the tickets are selling really well.

That really is great to hear especially when you think that we have nine months left before the tour gets going. It is crazy which I think is the reason why the promoters are saying “well, if that sells out then we will have to put another date on”. These really are the good scenarios to be in. The tour really does seem to be popular with everybody, so fingers crossed, they will be adding even more dates to the tour.

Well just to let you know I will be photographing the show here in Nottingham.

Really, what from the front two rows?

No, I can’t do that here in Nottingham because it is all seating, there is no pit. Just look up and you will see me dangling off the balcony (laughter).

Why don’t you get a stage pass and come onto the stage and take a few photographs?

What, and do a song or two with you and the boys?

Yes, why not, you will most certainly have more rhythm than Lee’s (Brennan) got so that’s all good (laughter).

Stop it (laughter). Anyway, being serious for a moment if we can, I recently interviewed Ralph Tavares and he told me that all the boys loved your version of More Than A Woman. He tells me that they thought that it was fantastic.

Really, that is so nice to hear. That really is fantastic. We haven’t done many, but we have done a couple of covers over the years, and we have always been lucky enough to bump into people whose songs we have covered. We covered A Little Bit More, the old Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show song and we had a number one with that one. Back then when it was called GMTV we bumped into Dennis Locorriere and suddenly, on the back of our number one, he went off on a world tour simply because we had managed to get the song back to number one for him. Everybody who we have ever covered songs for have had such a great reaction.

That is what you want, you don’t want to be covering somebody’s song and it is a pile of shite (laughter). You must be thankful that you can make a cover of someone’s song so for god’s sake at least do a good job on them. So, it’s so nice to hear that Ralph enjoyed it.

You wouldn’t be referencing Take That again would you and insinuating that they are a pile of shite? (laughter)?

(Laughter) no, not at all, honest (laughter).

May I take you back to 2000 and the 911 split. Looking back was it the right decision to take at that moment in time?

Firstly, let me say that when the band split back in 2000 it wasn’t my choice, it was down to the other two lads. But having said that, at the end of the day there is one side of me that can understand why it happened. We were all really tired because we never had a holiday during the whole five years that we were performing together. So, I understand why it happened from the point of not having any time away from the whole music industry. However, there was also the issue which I raised at the time, which was when our four-album deal ended and you have got other offers on the table, then you should take them. However, what we should have done was chose an offer but tell them that we really did need a complete break before undertaking any new work.

But the lads didn’t want to do that, so being honest, that decision was taken totally out of my hands really. It was that decision that set me off on my spiral really, and for two years after the split I went into alcohol, drugs, depression; the whole lot. That was my way of dealing with everything at the time. So, for me personally it wasn’t the right decision to make, but there is a flipside which I can kind of understand why.

So, am I to take it that all is now good in the 911 camp?

Yes, it is, it really is. This time around everything is so laid back and we are finally being allowed to pick and choose just what we want to do. As I have said earlier, I am now married with kids and my biggest fear is missing the kids whilst I am away on tour. But the reality of that is that it comes with the territory. But as a general happiness place, I’m great; I am in a really good place.

So, let’s now fast forward to 2012 and the TV show The Big Reunion. How did that feel when the three of you finally got back together and started performing as 911 once again?

If I am totally honest with you that was really weird because when the phone call came for a starters we didn’t really know how it was going to go; we didn’t know if it would be successful or not and also we didn’t really know whether or not we wanted to have cameras in our faces, whilst we were talking about our downsides or during any periods when we were down, or pissed off in general with the music side of things, or ourselves if you know what I mean. There were a couple of points at the time where Spike rang the TV Company and said, “no, I’m not going to do it”. He really didn’t want to do it at all.

After that the TV Company obviously talked us around by saying “we are not doing this to take the piss in anyway but at the same time we want to be honest about it”. So, as you can see it really was a weird one if I am honest with you. We did approach it in a rather cagey manner if you like, but at the end of the day everything was fine and it all worked well. We finally looked upon it as being a great opportunity for us, and we travelled from gig to gig on the tour bus with the rest of the bands. And let me tell you, the number of stories that were told and the amount of stuff that went on during the ride on that tour bus, was simply unbelievable (laughter).

We all got drunk and talked about the music business, and about how life was when we were going through all the shit. We also chatted about our kids and family life, so it really was a fantastic opportunity and off the back of that everyone has gone back out on the road touring once again. We are flying out to Asia next week to do a tour out there which would never have been possible if it hadn’t had been for The Big Reunion, so it really was a fantastic opportunity.

Putting you firmly on the spot, what would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

There really have been so many but if I had to pick just the one I would say that it would be that we had this thing before we were signed to a major record label, that we all thought that it would be great if we ever got to play at Wembley Arena. So when we announced our first ever arena tour, the three of us stood in the middle of Wembley Arena before they let anyone in; we just stood there and went “this is what we all wanted when we were all sat around a coffee table with absolutely no money, this is what we were dreaming of” so I would have to pick that moment simply because from an emotional point of view it shows the perspective of how we went from having nothing to having success.

Who has musically influenced you?

I really am old school and I used to listen to a hell of a lot of Tamla Motown back in the day. My parents would always be playing the likes of Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5, so I would have to say Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, and Marvin Gaye. Nowadays I am a huge fan of Bruno Mars just because I think that he is probably the closest that we will ever get to a performer like Michael Jackson. Plus, he really is cool isn’t he (laughter). The music business has changed a hell of a lot since we first started out, but they are certainly my influences.

I have just been looking at a few of the forthcoming festivals that you are playing this summer here in the UK and I must ask, when you formed the band back in 1996 could you ever envisage that you would be playing on the same bill as 10cc, Hugh Cornwall and The Osmond’s?

(Laughter) it’s quite mad isn’t it. What can I say in my defence; we don’t choose the line-ups that is solely all down to the promoters, honestly (laughter). I have to say that we have been lucky over the years with some of the festivals that we have played; they have had some great bands on the bill. But as you say, how could we ever have envisaged sharing the same stage with the likes of 10cc, Hugh Cornwall and The Osmond’s (laughter). We are extremely thankful for every day that we get now to be able to meet these idols of ours. We are very lucky to be in the position that we are in now, it truly is amazing.

Is there anything musically left for you to achieve?

From the bands point of view, I really am not sure because we have always tended to make decisions year by year. We made a new album a couple of years ago now and we were also talking about a new album earlier today. It is one of those situations where we take things year by year. As I have said, we tend to look and see where we are musically at the end of the year. From my own personal point of view, I do a lot of song writing for other artists which really is quite satisfying. I have recently been working with Les McKeown of The Bay City Rollers who is currently touring Canada, and I wrote a few songs on their new album.

And in the next year or so I am going to be doing some writing with Rod Stewart. Musically, for me, it is all about writing and then converting it in the studio into a great song as well as all the other stuff that I do with the band. For me, it is all down to finding the right opportunity that suits me.

What was the first record that you bought?

That was Red Red Wine by UB40 and I bought it with my very own money (laughter).

Who did you first see performing live?

(Laughter) don’t laugh but that was Shakin’ Stevens. From around the age of nine I really was a mad fan of Shaky and I finally got to see him at a Radio One Roadshow. Funnily enough, when we did our very first arena tour, we went to our rehearsals in the studios and suddenly realised when I was speaking to the choreographer that one of Shakin’ Stevens’ daughters was one of our backing dancers. I was totally besotted, I was like “wow” and I rushed over and started chatting away to her (laughter). She was most probably thinking ‘just who is this mad guy’ (laughter).

When we did The Big Reunion, we did a tour at Christmas time. So, I asked Shaky if he would like to come onstage with us and sing his biggest hit, Merry Christmas Everyone with us. He said that he would love to but then at the eleventh hour he announced a massive tour so unfortunately that never happened. I keep meaning to go along to one of his tours because he is still touring.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

That would be a song that I wrote for my wife to be, as she was at the time, and it was called I Do. I originally wrote the song for when the two of us walked down the aisle and ever since then, 911 did an album a few years ago now and I bought the song back to the table. We agreed that the song should be included on the album and since then the amount of people who have used it as their first dance, is totally amazing. I have surprised a couple of people by turning up at their wedding and singing it (laughter). That song was emotional for me because I never wrote it, intending it to be a single. However, if you look on YouTube, to date it has had four million hits.

For me, emotionally, just because it was a special song that I had written for my wife, to have other people use it as their memories in their life that they can always look back on, that for me really was an emotional time.

Next year, 2020, will be 911’s twenty-fifth anniversary, where did those years go?

(Laughter) let me tell you, that really is scary (laughter). I don’t even know where twenty-five years have even passed to be honest.

Are you planning on doing anything special?

Yes, we are, in fact we have always had it in our head that because we don’t tour very often on our own, we are thinking of doing something along the lines of An Evening With if you know what I mean. We are thinking of doing it in conjunction with one of the large hotel chains. I think that it would be nice in a way, especially after twenty-five years, if we had some big screens showing some of the old photographs of the band and then we could talk about it. We could have a Q&A with some of the songs in-between and I personally feel that is the way that we are going to go. I think that would be an ideal opportunity for people to come along and listen to some of the stories that have happened during the last twenty-five years. So, we are going to have a meeting in the next couple of months to pull that one together.

On that note Jimmy let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it has been great. Good luck with the tour and I will see you here in Nottingham.

No worries Kevin, it’s been nice speaking to you. You take it easy and I will see you later.