Alcoholism, coming out and a few fights along the way: the past 30 years have been a crazy but comforting rollercoaster ride for Human Nature
Interview by CAMERON ADAMS
But it was Andrew who found himself self-medicating during the early days of the group’s Las Vegas residency, which began in 2009. “It just crept up on me,” he tells Stellar. “It started out of performance anxiety onstage, a note I couldn’t get one night. And my drinking got out of hand. I just wasn’t being the person I wanted to be. We used to have a [shots] bar backstage. We’d have fun. But when I was really struggling I asked the other guys if they’d mind if I took all the alcohol out of the dressing room. It was a comfort that I was abusing.”
It’s now a dry zone backstage in Vegas, and will stay that way on the group’s upcoming Australian tour. Andrew, now sober, says it was religion that helped him battle the bottle; this year he released a Christian album with his other band, Finding Faith. His brother “Thirty years is an incredibly long time when you start to reflect on it, especially in the music business.” Phil agrees. “We’ve seen a massive amount of bands come and go. We’ve been through some tensions, but we’ve always had the passion for what we are doing. Our initial bond goes back longer than 30 years. We went to school together, so that helps.”
After the highs of the ’90s, in 2004 the group’s fourth original album, Walk The Tightrope, failed to crack the top 10. “There were no major hits on that album,” Mike says. “You start to wonder if there’s still an audience who want to hear us.” But a year later an album of Motown covers, Reach Out, soared to number one and sold more than 400,000 copies. In 2009 the band took up an offer to take a Motown-themed show to Vegas, which has since morphed into a wider jukebox-style production covering classic hits, a boy band medley (“We always insisted we weren’t a boy band, but look back at the early videos and… who were we kidding?” cracks Phil) and even a few Human Nature originals.
“When we went there,” Phil points out, “Vegas was still seen as the place careers go to die.” On their first night, they had exactly eight paying customers. “This was long before the days of Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Britney Spears and J.LO doing residencies.” While the group now plays five shows a week, 35 weeks a year, they initially struggled. “We had to ask our families to move to Vegas and give it a shot,” Mike recalls. “There were no real guarantees. We put our own money behind the show; it was a big risk.”
Thousands of satisfied fans later, Andrew credits the relocation for