Just when the music world thought it had got rid of cheesy boy bands, another one pops up. The music is manufactured and packaged pop peddled by the likes of Take That, Boyzone and East 17, the fans are pre-pubescent adulating girls and Britain in particular has a knack for churning out young white males with boyish good looks crooning soppy love songs. The new kids on the block, 911, are being hailed by many British fans as the new Take That. This is no doubt an honour considering the latter's demise. In two years the band have gone from virtual poverty to fame and fortune after signing a deal with Virgin worth GBP3.5 million (about HK$44.4 million). Their debut album, The Journey has what it takes to succeed in the pop charts. A smooth medley of soul, dance, swing and pop, the lyrics are perfectly orchestrated and harmonised love songs. Influenced by the likes of Wet Wet Wet, Michael Jackson and, of course, Take That, 911 have created a profitable sound. The band has its beginnings in television. Spike Dawbarn, 22, and Jimmy Constable, 23, met while working as dancers on late-night show The Hitman and Her. In 1995, Lee Brennan met the duo at a roadshow. By that time Dawbarn and Constable had started working with manager Steve Gilmour, who insisted on a third member; Brennan, 21, fell right in. Christened 911, the band set out to make it big. The name, of course, is the emergency number in the United States. 'People usually don't use numbers,' said Brennan by phone from Malaysia. 'It stands out quite a bit, and 999 would have been too easy. There's a coolness about 911, besides we get free promotion in America.' Their first two singles went top 40 in Britain, but it was the fourth single, The Day We Find Love, that symbolised their rise, with orders for more than 100,000 copies even before its release. Despite the speedy climb, Brennan insisted the group had paid their dues. 'We worked around the country meeting fans. A lot of groups go straight to TV, we did the hard work and met them and became friends with them. They know we're dedicated because we took the time out to meet them. 'Even if we're tired and the fans are there, we'll see them if we can.' Brennan was well aware of the tendency of many boy groups to have a hit and then sink into obscurity. 'One day you could be on top and the next it's all over. It's important to enjoy the time you have. But if we were just a one-hit wonder we would have been finished by now. It's been gradual, there have been surprises from the start, but we knew we had something that people would catch on to.' The boys are reluctant to compare themselves to the band that influenced them so much. 'We would hope to become big in every place we visit, but it would be nice to be half as big as Take That. Nobody else from Britain has been as successful as Take That.' The band believed they stood out from similar bands because of their stage performance. 'We enjoy being on stage, our performance is very energetic, we do a lot of breakdancing, we have our own style,' Brennan said. 'Many groups on stage get serious, there is no enjoyment, no personalities. When we're on stage we don't worry about anything, we'll get someone on stage and have a laugh. There's no point in taking anything too seriously.' The band are also proud of their alternative location. With their management based on Glasgow, and with the three hailing from Carlisle, Liverpool and Manchester, the band were reluctant to move to London, where their public relations company is based. 'We wanted to show everyone that it could be done from the North.' Still London-beckoned, and despite having to relocate, the trio go home as much as they can. 'They're a bit proud of me in Carlisle, I'm always in the paper. It's got to the point that I can't go anywhere,' Brennan said. Their three-week Asian promotional tour started in Dubai and ends in Thailand, and includes a few days in the territory and Singapore. The band have been thrilled with the response in the region. 'Our album is number one in Malaysia. When you're in the UK sometimes you don't realise what's going on around the world. Some of our fans [in Malaysia] have been fans for years. In Britain people know where we are and it's still mad. In places like this it's really nice to see the fans.' Brennan said the popularity of boy bands lay in the idol factor. 'Teenagers look for someone to look up to. For me it was Wet Wet Wet. They like to follow a group and think 'when I finish school I think I could do that'.' Despite their success, the trio still seem in awe of their rise to stardom. 'A year ago we didn't have a single out, we didn't have anything. It's all a bit of a dream.'