By ANJALI RAGURAMAN
“We don’t feel we’ve done our best stuff – the best stuff’s to come still. We’re ambitious in that way still. We’re always trying to push our boundaries musically,” frontman Gray Barlow said in an interview in Singapore recently.
Coming from a group with 56 international No. 1 singles – including Back For Good, Pray and Patience – and seven studio albums, it is a glimpse into the minds of one of Britain’s most successful pop exports.
The three-member group – comprising Barlow, 45; Mark Owen, 44; and Howard Donald, 47 – were in Singapore to play a one-off concert in conjunction with the HSBC Women’s Champions golf tournament at the Sentosa Golf Club.
Barlow reveals that they are writing their new album at the moment and, straight after their one-off concerts in Bangkok, where they played on March 3, and Singapore, they are heading home to Britain.
“We’re gonna get stuck in over the next few months and get it finished,” he says, adding that it will be out “later this year”.
The now “man band”, which kicked off their career as a five-piece boyband with their first album Take That & Party in 1992, plan to celebrate their 25-year career next year.
Barlow also reveals plans for a box set of their greatest hits and a possible Greatest Hits Tour the year after.
The band broke up in 1996, just months after their 1995 show at the Indoor Stadium in Singapore.
The band reformed with four members after a 10-year hiatus without former member Robbie Williams in 2006.
Williams came back in 2011 for a shortlived stint and, in 2014, both Williams and Jason Orange left, leaving the band in its current three-man formation.
But the remaining members are not ruling out a reunion. Owen is tentative, saying: “The conversation is open, we’ll see how everybody feels about this this time next year”, adding as a joke that “one day it’s yes, another day it’s no”.
Barlow, on the other hand, does not seem to mind whatever permutation the band are in, terming it the “modern Take That”.
He says: “It feels like another chapter for Take That being a three. There was a chapter when it was five, another chapter when it was four. I think it’s always going to change and that will keep it interesting.”
Of the three, Barlow’s solo career has seen the most success since the band reformed.
From writing songs for singer Elton John, such as the 2014 duet Face To Face, to co-organising Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee party with the BBC in 2012 and being a judge on talent show The X Factor for three years, his interests have been varied, if not musical.
When asked to confirm if rumours are true that he is starting a talent show to rival Simon Cowell’s X Factor, Barlow was firm with a “no comment”.
But whether he is venturing back into reality television, it seems like Take That will always be his first love.
The group’s de facto frontman and principal songwriter says: “I write for lots of different things, but writing for Take That is always the most exciting, especially to be finding a direction.
“The best bit is knowing our amazing audience, who is always there for us, is eagerly waiting for it. It’s lovely to know people are anticipating your music.” – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network