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'The studying was just a natural progression' There's more to Andrez Harriott than his role in the band Damage. Alongside his Boys Are Back tour, the qualified criminologist will be part of a nationwide school tour to combat crime and bullying. HELEN BARNES caught up with him h t d i tt th hi l i th b d l id h.

Byline: HELEN BARNES

Who's idea was the Boys Are Back Tour? Good question! I think it originated from our agent - a few of the bands are represented by the same agent - we had initial discussions last year and it just sounded like a great opportunity to perform together. We all get on really well, so it was a no brainer for us - to give the fans something different, a whole package.

Are you rehearsing yet? The music is all done, and we go into rehearsals in a week's time. We have to see if our knees can still hold up!

Ben Adams (A1) told me in a recent interview that he thinks the tour will be like one long stag do.

That's a very good way to put it, Ben, yeah! It will, but at the same time we are going to have to be sensible - we have over 30 shows; I'm sure there will be nights when we party, but at the same time there will be periods where we have to be sensible just so that we can complete the whole tour.

You're a real academic too, with so many letters after your name - how did you find the studying after a career in the limelight? After Damage, I went on to specialise in working with the Youth Justice Sector - children that are at risk of going on to commit offences or at risk of being expelled from school, along with working with children in custody that have committed some pretty serious offences. The studying for me was just a natural progression. I didn't want to be someone who was just blagging. I went off and did two degrees so that I could have a real theoretical knowledge. I've got my own organisation and we do incredible work.

Sounds inspirational, but why are you so passionate about this? I think that we, the guys in Damage, were very fortunate and we found our passion really early and were able to sign a record deal and travel the world. However, some of my friends were not so fortunate. I wanted to see where it was going wrong for kids - kids that maybe schools didn't diagnose behaviour that should have been diagnosed, or children that have been exposed to really traumatic experiences - and I just wanted to give them opportunities, where possible. And, if we can't, then to work with those kids that are maybe in custody for 20 years and challenge their thinking.

Are you coming to a school in Nottingham with one of your workshops? I am indeed. Parallel to the Boys Are Back Tour, I'm doing a national schools tour. The workshops are entitled Letters From Inside and it's basically a discussion with children that are currently in prison, talking to children in school, saying "this was my life, this was the mistake I made and try not to do what I've done". I will be visiting Oakwood Academy, in [Warren Hill] Nottingham.

I hear you're a successful DJ too, playing all over Europe. Do you do a lot of celebrity parties? I did one the other day where the bride was a well-known backing singer and she had a lot of celebrities there at her reception. I do quite a lot of birthday parties for people that are well-known.

Jade Jones (from Damage) married Baby Spice, Emma Bunton. Was there ever any pressure for you all to get together with Spice Girls? No, no, no, no The girls were riding high on top of the world at that time. Jade and Emma's relationship is very organic - they have two beautiful children and have been together over 20 years. They have a lovely relationship.

Life now, or life back in the 90s? Oh goodness, what a question! I'm going to split it into two - life in the 90s because we were child free, mortgage free and less responsibility. But, life now, because we HAVE children, we have beautiful wives and we have been able to have a band that's lasted 20 years plus. We are very fortunate, very blessed.

| The Boys Are Back Tour comes to Nottingham and Leicester: De Montfort Hall, Leicester, Wednesday, March 11. Tickets: demontforthall.co.uk, 0116 233 3111, PS24-PS34; Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, Friday, March 13. Tickets: trch.co.uk/whats-on/ the-boys-are-back/, 0115 989 5555, PS25-PS35.

CAPTION(S):

Damage - with Andrez far right - onstage in 2018

Andrez far right with, from left, Adam Rickitt (5th Story), Simon Webbe (Blue) and Ritchie Neville (Five)

Damage today
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:HELEN BARNES
Publication:Loughborough Echo (Loughborough, England)
Date:Feb 12, 2020
Words:753
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