How can a band emerge from a 16-year break in a business with ever-changing styles, tastes and technologies?
This is a question singer and guitarist Christian Burns of the British trio BBMak has thought a lot about, as he and bandmates Mark Barry and Stephen McNally prepared to head out on a worldwide reunion tour in May.
They will be performing at the Belasaco Theater in Los Angeles on Nov. 5 and the House of Blues Anaheim on Nov. 7.
“We wondered if anyone would turn up at the shows,” said Burns. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response. They’ve been waiting for this.”
It took a casual holiday party at Christian’s sister’s house in 2017 to re-ignite BBMak’s passion for music.
“The guitar was there,” said Burns. “I said, ‘For a laugh, should we see if we can remember?’ We had a couple of beers as well. We did it, and it was flawless. We realized how much we enjoyed and missed performing together.”
Burns uploaded the clip to social media, and the response made BBMak realize fans wanted a reunion.
“We said, ‘Let’s just do it!’ ” he said. “It feels right. It feels organic and natural. Not forced.”
For those who may not recall BBMak, a little refresher: The British trio ruled the airwaves and hearts of teenage girls in the late 1990s and early 2000s with their male model looks and string of pop hits including “Back Here” and “Still On Your Side.”
They formed in 1997 in their hometown of Liverpool, England over a mutual love of the three-part harmonies they heard on the recordings of the Beatles, the Eagles and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
BBMak signed with Disney-owned Hollywood Records in 1998. They released their debut album “BBMak” at the height of “boy band” mania, and it went on to sell over 2 million copies worldwide. What followed was endless touring, including a run of stadium shows opening for Britney Spears and *NSYNC.
But they never considered themselves a “boy band.”
“Sometimes people had a preconceived notion of what we were,” said Burns. “Because we were young and we had a stylist, people would put us in that category. They thought we were manufactured.”
Burns emphasized that they always wrote and produced their own music, and they played guitar.
“We did a lot of TV shows, radio shows where we played live, and it was just one guitar and three voices,” he said. “Nothing to hide behind.”
The band’s second album “Into Your Head” and a greatest hits collection followed. Then in 2003 they called it quits.
“We were definitely burnt out physically and mentally,” said Burns. “We were also a bit frustrated. We took a long time after the second album and the record company got cold feet ... We didn’t want to be that band that was struggling to get attention.”
The three remained friends over the years. Burns formed the electronic music duo All Hail the Silence with BT. McNally is the lead singer of the band 10 Reasons to Live. And Barry now works in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and gym owner.
“He keeps us in shape,” Burns says of Barry. “Stops us from eating burgers.”
Although they’ve had offers over the years to reunite for TV shows and festivals, Burns said it never felt right before.
“We now have that direct contact with the fans via social media,” he said. “We can find out what they like. It’s a completely different time.”
For the tour, Christian promises a night of “BBMak favorites,” music from their just-released third album “Powerstation,” and a few surprises.
“This time around we are taking it all in,” said Burns. “We love music and love performing together and are appreciative of the fans that have stood by us all these years.”
IF YOU GO
When: Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
Where: House of Blues Anaheim, 400 W. Disney Way, Anaheim
Cost: From $22 for general admission to $50, which includes a meet and greet