This year marks 20 years since Northern Line burst into the pop scene with their debut single Run For Your Life. We recently caught up with Dan Corsi to talk about his time in the group, what it was like touring with Steps and most crucially, just what is his favourite stop on the Northern Line?
It’s been almost two decades since Northern Line released their first single – what have you been doing for the last 20 years?
Getting married, having children, DJing, modelling…I lived in Japan for a little while – I’ve done a little bit of everything really. After Northern Line, I went back to a normal-ish life to be honest.
What was it like when Northern Line ended, were you given any support from the management or record label?
The record label had spent too much money – about £4 million – on us and it’s a business at the end of the day. If something’s not selling, then you don’t keep ploughing money into it and our last song didn’t chart as well as it needed to. One day you’re in it, the next you’re not; we had to move out of the house that was rented for us, we were given £4,000 and I never spoke to the manager or record label again. The label doesn’t really give a shit about you – that’s it, you’re done and they move on. They’ve lost a bit of money and you’re left to fend for yourself.
What did you do afterwards – how do you get back on your feet?
After Northern Line, I had to rent a room in a house until I got back on my feet. You have to try and find a normal job which is always hard. Even trying to go back into modelling – you can’t just advertise normal things because you’re ‘so and so from the band’. I had a lot of write-ups in the papers about me with girls, so I wasn’t the best person to be advertising things.
Were at all you wary going into the music industry?
When you start, you’re told you’re the best thing ever and it’s going to be amazing. You’re young, you’re given money, girls, cars, drink, drugs – you just don’t think that one day you’re going to wake up with nothing.
I was a little bit older than some of the others, but I still went into it thinking it wouldn’t ever end. We were going to be like Take That, have millions of pounds and never work properly again. I thought we’d all end up in a big mansion somewhere having pool parties for the rest of our lives.
I just need to say, it’s not bad being in a band. The outcome was what it was, but I’d never look back and say it was crap or that I wished I hadn’t done it. I’ve got no regrets. It was the best time I ever had and when it finished you just have to get on with it. I watched people on The Big Reunion saying it was crap and they’d have done things differently – but I’d never have changed anything I did.
Zac (Ziggy) famously took part in Big Brother in 2007 – were you ever tempted to do reality TV?
I thought about it, but he was quite clever. He did the non-celebrity Big Brother and back then I thought I was more famous than I actually was, so I’d have done Celebrity Big Brother, but not the normal one.
Besides your appearance on The Big Reunion, had you considered doing any other shows like The Voice or X Factor?
No, I’m not very good at singing.
Look, back in the ‘90s it was completely different; you’d have all these bands and not many people sang live – we were jumping and dancing around.
I can sing but I wouldn’t want to get up on my own without the others. I’d never go down The Voice route because people would think: “Oh, he was in a band he’s going to be amazing” and then when I went to sing, they’d be like: “Oh dear”.
Does Northern Line still open doors 20 years later?
I just do everything off my own back these days. I have an agent who gets me modelling work, but celebrity TV shows and reality shows…I wouldn’t know where to start.
What was it like being a pop act in the ‘90s – was it hard work?
I’ll be blatantly honest – it wasn’t really hard work. I look at some of my mates and they work hard. Ok, the hours were long, but you literally only work for 3½ minutes. If you do three songs, then you’re talking 10 minutes work.
For a day’s rehearsal you get picked up in a chauffeur driven car, you get lunch brought to you, dance around in the studio for a couple of hours and then get driven home again to get changed into a designer suit and go out for the evening.
We worked a lot, but it wasn’t hard. We tried to cram in as much as possible because we were trying to make money. And I never really looked at it as work – it was just a bit of a laugh.
You toured with Steps – what is it like as a support act rather than being the headline act?
We had to pay to go on that tour. It comes out of your budget and you’ve got to pay because it’s promoting your singles. I can’t remember how much but we paid a lot of money to go on that tour.
It’s harder when you’re playing for somebody else’s crowd, but we always got love. We never had anyone booing – obviously Steps get all the attention, the big dressing rooms and things. It didn’t matter though. It was still fun – we’d never played to audiences that big before, so we were still having a good time. Obviously, they were there for Steps, but I think we went down well. Our music was upbeat and fun.
What are your highlights from your time in Northern Line?
One of our highlights was going out to LA to meet managers and producers. We went to Jennifer Lopez’s house on her birthday and met her mum, her sister and her friends. That was one of my highlights.
Workwise I really enjoyed doing our third video All Around The World because we got to go to Cuba. I’ve never been somewhere like that. And obviously the tour playing Wembley, Manchester – all the big arenas. That was a great experience.
Would you have done anything differently in terms of the singles?
Looking back now, I’ve no regrets, but I think we should’ve done a ballad for our third single. We had a choice of a couple of songs and we went for All Around The World because we thought it was summery and uplifting. After the Steps tour we thought it might’ve done well, but it didn’t do what it was meant to. So, I think we should’ve gone for a ballad. It’s just a shame that we chose the wrong single.
A lot of acts at the time disassociated themselves from the music they were releasing. Did you feel the same way?
You know what, I watched all three videos this morning and they weren’t bad songs. They are just cheesy pop, summery feelgood songs. They’re nothing amazing – but they’re not crap.
I’d been going out clubbing a lot years before, so I was into garage, soul, funk but I didn’t mind our music. I’d always loved Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, so for me I was quite happy dancing around. If I wasn’t in the Northern Line, I doubt I’d have gone to HMV and bought the singles, but I didn’t hate it and I wasn’t embarrassed about it because it was getting me a lot of attention.
It must have been great to be part of the pop industry at that time?
It was good fun, anybody who says they didn’t really like it is probably lying and trying to be cool. I’m over that, I loved it, I enjoyed it.
It was a great time for pop music. There were so many massive tours back then, you had us, Blue, Atomic Kitten, Westlife, Five, Another Level and then you had *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys – there were hundreds of bands. It was just a fun time in the ‘90s for that sort of music. It was camp, it was fun, it was colourful, and it was just a good old laugh. It all seems to have changed now.
You DJ now – are you more comfortable behind the decks or do you miss being on stage?
I loved being on stage. For me it’s all I’ve ever done – before the band I was modelling so I did the teenage magazines and tours. I’ve only ever really known how to do that since I was a young. So, I don’t mind being behind the decks because it’s the same sort of thing – you still get to entertain.
I just like entertaining people really. I just enjoy going out and having a laugh.
Have you ever been tempted to drop a Northern Line song into one of your DJ sets?
Yes, I’ve done it. A couple of times. People don’t really know who it is, so they carry on dancing which always makes me laugh. There’s a few of my mates that have been in there and they look at me and go: “you wanker”, but I don’t care.
We had quite a few remixes, so I always try and drop one in to see if anyone notices. Most of the younger crowd don’t know the songs, they’ve got no idea.
Will you be doing anything with the other lads to commemorate two decades of Northern Line?
Well, I never see them. I don’t speak to Zac, we fell out a few years ago and I don’t see him. Andy lives in LA – he’s a big producer. Warren lives in South Africa and I’ve no idea about Michael. Last time I heard he was a clothes designer for Take That. Now and again we speak on Facebook, but I haven’t even got their phone numbers to be honest.
So, Northern Line was essentially a workplace?
We didn’t know each other beforehand, we worked together and then when you finish your job – how many people remember the people they worked with 20 years ago?
I was 24 and had my own group of friends. I’d been living in London since I was 19 so I just met these people, we moved in together and it was a job. Me and Zac got on really well, but a couple of years ago we fell out over stupid things.
We were put together; it was a job. Some of us didn’t get on anyway – heads would clash over things. So, when it finished it was like: “nice one, shake your hand – if I bump into you in town, we’ll have a beer, but if I don’t…”.
What do you think was the best Northern Line song?
We had a ballad. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was really good. But out of the three singles, I would say All Around The World because I like a bit of Earth, Wind & Fire and there were some of those influences in that song.
Have you ever used the Northern Line and done a cheeky name drop?
No, but my kids have. They find it really funny if I take them out and we go past the Northern Line sign. My daughter kicks me and says: “You used to be in that”. Some of my friends still take the piss but I’ve never done it, no.
And finally, what is your favourite stop on the Northern Line?
Well, the reason we were called Northern Line is because we lived in Finchley, so that’s where the name came from: Finchley Station on the Northern Line. We lived in a house just around the corner and before we’d got a record deal, we used to walk around the corner and get on the Northern Line with our trainers and leotards to go dancing.
You can catch Dan DJing every Friday and Saturday at House of Ho. For bookings you can reach him via e-mail or Twitter.