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

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

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

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