Rogue 5 are the next big thing in British pop music. Well, so says their press release.
But as they preen and pose for an exclusive photoshoot with loaded, all achingly cool yet full of boyish charm, you can’t help but feel these four good-looking lads are on the verge of something really special.
Their first single is about to hit the charts, and already they have been maintaining the age-old boy band tradition of snorting Class A drugs and rattling headboards up and down the country.
But just how big do they see themselves becoming? As big as The Backstreet Boys? The Bee Gees? The Beatles, even?
“Our plan is to be big as Gary Barlow in his comfort-eating years,” replies self-appointed frontman Romeo deadpan. “Or Robbie Williams when he smoked all that weed and got mad munchies – he was a proper fat mess.”
Clearly the pie is the limit for this band. But who are their influences as they try to navigate their way across the rocky pop market landscape?
“We see ourselves being influenced and inspired by a long tradition of great boy bands,” says Romeo grandly, evoking images of New Kids On The Block, Take That, or Westlife.
“We are talking Ultimate Kaos, 911, Damage, Another Level – and not forgetting EastEnders legend Sean Maguire and Byker Grove heroes PJ and Duncan.
“Of course, you can’t forget 5ive. They led the way as five boys of different shapes, sizes, creeds and colours – just like us – with the power to Rock You.
“They made everybody get up at the same time as they made everybody get down. That’s such an amazing skill to have.
“And remember, they slam-dunked the funk, and you can’t underestimate how hard that is to do in this day and age. They are legends in our own lifetime.”
Like every boy band I’ve ever previously interviewed, Rogue 5 are late. Well, one of them, Winston, is. Their manager is apologetic, but tells me: “We have to wait for him to turn up – he’s our token black guy.” Nice.
As we wait at the uber-trendy Queen of Hoxton bar for the photoshoot to take place, the other members warm up their vocals in the street…while chain-smoke constantly and wolf-whistling at passing teenage girls.
The group are an admittedly odd mix. There is Romeo (although I’m not sure that is his name as everyone insists on calling him Adam), an ego on legs and a domineering presence who refuses to let the others speak without his permission.
Then there is Michael, a gay-acting alleged straight guy who is camper than a row of tents at a Santa convention.
Meanwhile, self-confessed “chubster” Keith looks more like a builder than a pop star. Which is probably because he used to be one.
But, give them their due, they scrub up well and have a definite boy band ‘quality’ about them. And if a flabby mess of a man like Dane Bowers can make it as a pop star then so can these lot.
Finally, Winston arrives. Tattooed and decked out in Elizabeth Duke jewellery, fake Ray-Bans and an over-sized cap from Sports Direct, he resembles a low-rent version of Dappy from N-Dubz.
Breathing heavily and sweating like Stan Collymore in a car park, he apologises with a shrug that says he’d rather be at home in bed, probably smoking some Grade A skunk.
“He’s going to have to improve on his time-keeping,” says Keith, with a look that says he’d be more likely to discover a cure for cancer.
So new are Rogue 5 to the UK music scene, that virtually nothing is known about them. So I start by asking how they first met.
Three of the foursome – there is a fifth member, who they prefer not to discuss despite the band’s obvious misnomer (“he went to rehab in India but unfortunately discovered ketamine and Geri Halliwell,” admits Romeo after some probing) – met at stage school last year and instantly clicked.
Romeo, who decided he wanted to form the band, said: “Me, Michael and Winston met at a weekend stage school when we were kids.
“I got all the parts but it wasn’t a big deal, it just meant that I did everything. It was tough. So I asked the others to join. But something was missing.”
Looking for the final piece of the jigsaw, they ironically found Keith using a jigsaw; he was doing Winston’s mum’s kitchen.
Romeo continues: “Winston’s mum said he did everything erotically and that maybe we should check him out. It was tough but we persuaded him.
“We later learned he had a background in strip dancing and Winston’s mum had actually said he did everything ‘erratically’ but it was too late – we’d already bought him a pair of boy band boots.”
“They are Westlife’s Shane Filan’s shoes,” Keith says proudly. Big shoes to fill then? “Well, they’re not his actual shoes. He’s working in Shoe Zone in Slough these days. Bankruptcy is a terrible thing.”
The band decided upon their name because, well, there were initially five of them and, as Keith admits: “We are proud rogues. I would say Loveable Rogues, but Simon Cowell’s lawyers have told us we can’t.
“Instead we tell people we are Shaggable Rogues. I don’t think Cowell has a band called that…has he? That’s just his nickname for 1Direction.”
Since then Rogue 5 have cornered the market for gigs at Brownie meetings and school discos – sometimes playing to up to 30 teenage girls alone.
Last week they appeared on Big Brothers Bit On The Side and are now touring Jongleurs clubs and Lockout music gigs.
But it hasn’t all been plain-sailing. There is clear ill-feeling between Romeo and the other three band members, which is no more obvious than during the photo shoot when he hogs the limelight and the other three perform ‘wanker’ signs behind his back.
I mention this incident, but Romeo shrugs it off. “The fact is, everyone is equal, except they’re not because I am everything.” The others roll their eyes and shrug their shoulders – but you feel ructions lie ahead.
Then there was what they all describe as an “unfortunate moment” when Winston had sex with Keith’s mum. In front of him. “It caused a lot of tension at first,” admits Keith. “But we are okay now,” he adds to uneasy looks.
With their new-found fame, the lucky swines must be getting all sorts of attention from the opposite sex – and I wonder aloud who is Rogue 5’s version of 1Direction lothario Harry Styles. The lads instantly – perhaps too quickly – point to Michael, the camp one.
“Michael is our true ladies man,” insists Romeo as I raise an eyebrow. “Nah, trust me, he is always surrounded by beautiful women,” he adds, as if desperately trying to convince me. “They go shopping, to the movies, lunch. They do everything together.”
Their explanation appears plausible. But, as the group pose for our pictures, from time-to-time their crotches become pressed closely to the face of Michael – who appears to enjoy every minute.
Whispers have been growing among Rogue 5’s fanbase that Michael in particular is not as straight as he – and the rest of the band – have been making out.
Knowing I would be letting down Rogue 5’s legions of female fans if I didn’t find out, I take the plunge and go for it. “Michael, I have to ask, are you gay,” I say, putting him on the spot.
“What is gay?” Michael replies as though coached, deflecting my probing (sic). “Gay can mean many things, including happy. Am I a happy person? Yes, very.”
And what of the rumours their management has insisted Michael hides his sexuality to protect their image with young female fans?
Romeo looks at me with disgust. “The management don’t control us, or tell us what to wear or who to do. I do that – and if I say he’s not gay, then I’ll bloody well make sure he’s not doing other men.”
Moving swiftly on I move onto safer territory: shagging. With tracks like How Will I Know (if you’re old enough)?, groupies are already queuing up to sleep with them – and Keith admits he has given in to temptation.
“I’ve banged them all,” he grins. “The problem is sometimes you don’t know how old they are. I had a close shave with the law recently, so now I I.D. them all to be sure. It’s best when they show you a Freedom bus pass because then you know you’re definitely not going to prison.”
Winston, however, refuses to sleep with groupies because he’s been hiding a secret girlfriend. And he decides to use this interview to reveal her identity as The Saturday’s Rochelle Wiseman.
“I guess you could say I’ve been in S Club Juniors,” he quips. “Well, one of them at least!”
And he chuckles when I mention her recent marriage to JLS star Marvin Humes. “Not only have I outclassed him onstage, but I’ve also done it in bed,” he winks. “Anyway, aren’t JLS all gay?”
(Note to lawyers: This is in no way factual, and was obviously meant as a joke.)
But these boys insist they are not only about sex and rock ‘n’ roll – they sometimes get off their tits too.
Winston is a self-confessed drug dealer (“Never pay for drugs…I’ve got all you need,” he tells me afterwards, between honks on his crack-pipe), while anecdotes trip off Romeo’s tongue like he’s Ozzy Osbourne on speedballs.
“Once,” he boasts, “I got drunk when I was on antibiotics. My doctor went ape shit. Literally. Well, not literally, but he was pretty peeved.”
One can only imagine how these boys would party if they got a number one hit. “We’d celebrate with some heroin,” says Winston, as if reading my mind. “That way we’d be having hits every night.”
But their tales of craziness don’t end there. Michael says: “One night we got thrown out of a nightclub because me and Winston got into a fight with these two Dutch kids about who was better out of Nikki Minaj and Lil’ Kim.
“But we didn’t mind; we all went back to mine and spent a couple of hours tweeting about it before we fell asleep at around midnight. Mental.”
“And before I joined the band I once starred in a granny porn movie,” Winston says matter-of-factly, drawing stunned silence from around the room.
Desperate to break the awkwardness, I move back to social networking – a vital tool in the promotion of any new boy band. Who has the most followers, I ask.
“I do,” says Michael proudly. “I’ve got about 17 or 18. I’m hoping to one day beat Lady Gaga.”
The truth is you can’t help feeling he might be onto something. While Gaga continues to flog her Madonna-lite shtick, Rogue 5, with their mix of cheekiness and charisma, feel fresh and new.
As Romeo says: “Our ultimate goal is to break America.” If you listen hard enough, you can almost hear the Yanks crying already.
*Check them out on Twitter @rogue5band.