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Next up for brother of Dana - to guide an Ulster boy band to top of the pops.


THE brother of Eurovision song winner Dana is set to make a few soundwaves of his own by following in the footsteps of pop maestro Louis Walsh.

Gerry Brown has become the driving force behind Ireland's latest boy band which goes by the super trendy name of WOT NXT.

WOT NXT only hooked up with Gerry eight months ago when they convinced him to come see them perform.

Already the ex-musician is confident Belfast's Paul McAuley, Gavin Black, Stephen Buttler, Jay Magee and Lisburn's Robbie Maye have what it takes.

He told us: "All the big names I've spoken to in the music business share my enthusiasm that the boys will go far.

WOT NXT's success has been phenomenal and include supporting Irish pop giants Westlife in the Odyssey Arena in Belfast next week.

They have also been lined up to perform with UK boy band Blue during their Irish tour, and will release their first single Speed of Love this summer.

Yet 10 months ago the band in its current form, didn't even exist.

Said Gerry, whose sister Dana is now the tough-talking MEP for Connaught: "I first saw the band at a fashion show in Bangor and noticed three of them were very talented and two not so good.

"Gavin, one of the members, approached me and asked if I wanted to get involved but I declined because I was in America with the Backstreet Boys.

"Then I got a call saying the line up had changed and asked if I'd like to meet them again. So I agreed and it's really gone from there."

Robbie joined original band members Gavin, Paul and Jay.

They found fifth member Steven at Search for a Star auditions in the Odyssey Arena where he'd made it to the quarter-finals of the competition but was convinced to join the band.

Gerry said: "I was happy with the new line up and encouraged by their shared determination to succeed.

"The first thing I did was contact Louis Walsh and he offered us the support for the SIX Christmas tour in Ireland and the Westlife dates in May and June at the Odyssey."

WOT NXT also managed to make a name for themselves across the water when they toured with Blazing Squad.

That group's boss Albert Samuels agreed to let the boys act as support.

"Albert said he would give the boys one slot and if they were good enough, he'd consider more. They grabbed the opportunity and ended up doing the whole UK tour," said Gerry.

The boys packed in their part-time jobs last week to concentrate on their first single Speed of Love, due for release in the Irish charts this summer.

"Howie D from the Backstreet Boys is another close friends of mine and agreed to write the track. I'm confident it will catapult the boys into the Irish pop world," added Gerry.

WOT NXT face a summer schedule of touring and working on the first LP including support to superstars Blue in Galway as part of their Irish tour.

And top songwriters such as Kenny Thomas, John Reid and Leo Sayer are to help with the album.

The five admit they are struggling to come to terms with their fame.

Belfast lad Gavin Black says he pinches himself to make sure the last six months haven't been a dream.

"It's been an unbelievable experience. One minute we were doing our nine to five jobs, the next we were supporting Westlife and Blazing Squad in front of thousands of people.

"We are five great mates who enjoy the same music and are all chasing our dream. We all have the determination and belief that we can make it, and if anyone is going to make it happen, that person is Gerry," he said.

The 20-year-old grew up with Paul and Jay and worked as a barman in popular Belfast nightspot Bar Seven.

He said: "Travelling for 15 hours to our next performance can be tiring but it's all worth it for 15 minutes on stage.

"The feeling you get when you stand in front of thousands of people who are screaming your name is amazing.

"It just makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck."

Ex-boxer Gavin said his family and friends were delighted for his success.

"My parents and pals are really proud at how far we've come in the last six months. They have their fingers crossed that we'll do well.

"But they are also quick to remind you to come back down to earth after a tour and you need that," he said.

Robbie says he finds it hard to go into town now without being recognised and asked for autographs.

"The past two months has been mad. Before we did the Westlife and Blazing Squad tour, nobody knew us.

"Now it's impossible to hit the city centre without someone shouting your name or asking how things are going.

"Being recognised is definitely one of the hardest things to adjust to when you start to do well in this business," he said.

Talented Robbie, who used to play for Man United schoolboys and Irish League side Glenavon, said he never thought he'd form part of a boy band.

"Football was always my first love but this has definitely been able to replace that passion," he said.

"Now I and the rest of the lads are having the time of our lives."

Queen's student Robbie has been deferred his politics degree for 12 months to see how things develop.

He insists the band is aware of the challenges ahead and know there is a possibility things might not work out.

"Everything has happened so fast but we always remember our roots because it could all be thrown back in our face at any minute.

"But we are not thinking that way and are looking forward to the release of our first single in July," he said.

Gerry says having the patience to make sure every song is a quality one is the key to boy band success.

And he has told the boys to look no further than Daniel O'Donnell for inspiration if they wish to succeed!

"They looked at me in horror but I laughed and told them he could tell the name of every person at his concerts.

"I have no doubt people in across the UK and Irealnd will be well aware of the five names that make up boy band WOT NXT in the near future."


HIGH AIMING FIVE: Success will be WOT'S NXT on the agenda if musician and manager Gerry Brown has his way; POLITICAL POP: Dana at Eurovision, above, and as an MEP
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 15, 2003
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