Falling in love with a1
- Bot Glorioso () - October 19, 2001 - 12:00am
"Eenie-minie minney mo, boy bands all in a row, some are old, some are new; all good and all true, to what group will I go?"

This is probably what’s in the mind of those going gaga over young, talented and handsome singing groups. With so many of them invading the music scene and captivating the hearts of millions, one will have a hard time choosing which singing group to pick. With a1 as one of those singing lads descending on our shores, it would be absurd not to fall in love with them and notice how much they differ from the rest.

Made up of Ben Adams, Christian Ingebrigtsen, Mark Read and Paul Marazzi, a1 is a British group put together by management team Tim Byrne and Vicky Blood. It took them three years of auditions to find four people with same dedication and an equal amount of talent.

a1 guys are no neophytes in performing even before the group was formed. Ben, a former head chorister at St. Margaret’s Westminster Abbey, has sung solos on two choral CDs and had the Pope and the Queen as audience during a show. He also plays the violin and oboe.

Christian studied at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and is the son of Stein, a Scandinavian recording artist of the ’60s and ’70s. A pianist in the group, Mark started performing at 11 in his family’s band and Paul was spotted by a German producer one New Year’s Eve singing at their karaoke bar. They are responsible for the hits Like a Rose (which was penned by Ben and reached number 6 in the UK charts), Everytime Ready or Not, Heaven by Your Side, One More Try among others.

Like other boy bands, a1 guys are young and good-looking. So what makes them different from the others? "We write a lot of our own songs," says Ben, a Leonardo di Caprio look-alike. "Our difference is that we take pride in being musicians and writers. It’s a very unique situation where all members of the group write and contribute equally," Christian says.

Did any of them feel any objection to the inclusion of another member? "There were no other members in the picture. When we came together, there is no doubt that we were the final line-up. We respect each other so much and compliment each other in the way we write our songs; in the way we perform," Christian said.

When writing a song, according to Ben, one sits at the piano, another picks up a guitar until they come up with something. Often, they end up having a great song and add it to their other compositions. They will just choose which ones will be included in the album.

The quartet wrote 10 of the 12 songs in their debut album, Here We Come, which was released in 1999.

Each having his own style, the guys have different influences. Mark loves pop like Madonna and Take That; Ben goes for R & B and soul like Babyface; Paul is funk who loves Prince ("My introduction to the pop world was seeing Prince perform and he has always inspired me," Paul says.) and Christian, a rocker, who goes for Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith.

Their penchant for songwriting really serves them and other singers well. They were asked to write songs for Michael Jackson’s album. "It’s an honor for us to even be considered for an album by the King of Pop," Ben states.

The members are still young, although they didn’t reveal who is the oldest and the youngest among them. "I’ll just say I’m the tallest," Mark jokes during a presscon at Robinsons Galleria Suites for their concert a1: The A List Tour presented by Philips Audio.

The boys have their favorite cartoon characters too. Mark is the biggest Disney fan, spending more money than anyone to see Toy Story. "I also idolize Goofy. He is clumsy and there’s a bit of him in all of us," he adds. Ben loves Bart Simpson, "He is funny and I love that ‘Boomph!"

Christian goes for Donald Duck because "I recognize myself in him." Paul likes characters of The Wild Thornberrys. But wait, they forgot to mention those British characters Teletubbies!

When someone asked, "If you were to dye your hair the wackiest color, what would it be?" Paul jokingly said, "What a wonderful question! Anyway, I would dye my hair the wacky colors like those witchy-witchy colors — a red or a white."

Seriously now, this boy band has a heart for children. Their fans are mostly young girls aged 15 or even younger. They particularly support organizations that help children especially those afflicted with cancer. The guys don’t just focus on love experience or boy-girl relationships. They write songs about different things, situations from other people’s lives and experiences during performances.

This includes the group’s reflection over the tragic overcrowding during their tour in Jakarta, Indonesia where four female fans were killed in a stampede.

That incident added to the band’s experience. As Ben says, "The best way to learn about anything is through experience and we have certainly been getting a lot of that."

Performing around the world taught them to be better songwriters and performers.

The group won the Best Newcomer Award for 2000 based on votes polled from listeners of Radio 1. The a1 guys beat the Backstreet Boys to No. 1 in the UK and Norwegian singles charts through their own composition Same Old Brand New You.

This year, they have a new single entitled No More with a video of the boys scaling down walls, fighting ninjas, riding speedboats, etc.

a1 is on a five-nation tour, including the Philippines where they held concerts at Araneta Coliseum and Cebu Waterfront Hotel. They are promoting their latest album, The A List.

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