First you take a step to your left, then to your right. Thrust your hips: out, in, out, in. Now point your hand to the left, right and centre. Then you just yell: 'Five, six, seven, eight,' before taking a bow. Well done. You have just completed the 'step dance' that made British pop group Steps a household name and teenage sensation. The quintet - Lisa Lee, 22, Claire Richards, 20, Ian Watkins, 21, Faye Tozer, 22 and Lee Latchford, 23 - has a persona that oozes youth, fun and energy and is heading towards Asia at full speed. Its debut album Step One is to hit local record stores next month, three months prior to its European release. Hong Kong agent Rock Records says this strategy shows the group's keen interest in breaking into this region. The group is expected to arrive in Hong Kong between July 13 and 16. But how well will Steps fare in a market already swamped by other teenage pop groups from Europe, the United States and Japan? Unlike the Spice Girls, Boyzone and Backstreet Boys, which are single-gender entities, Steps prides itself on being a mixed act that 'appeals to everyone'. Despite this 'difference', critics are sure to claim the group is no more than a commercial product that simply sings, dances and, more importantly, sells. 'We are manufactured and we don't claim to be anything but that,' says Richards from west London. 'But I think that is an advantage to us because we've [benefited from] the six-month audition. 'If we could be as successful as the Spice Girls or Boyzone or most other bands that have been put together in exactly the same way as us, we are not going to complain.' So they feel no qualms being regarded as a commercial vehicle that looks good but has little musical talent - like writing their own music? 'But we can [write]!' protests Lee. 'We are definitely going to have some of our songs on the albums to follow.' Richards says Step One 'happened so quickly' the group had not been able to write its own material. 'But we all write and we are progressing in that,' she says. 'We have a lot of input into the stuff that we do. We are given a very basic song that we can vocally change and do what we want to with it. 'We have done a couple of ballads already. The music becomes us because of the way we sing it.' Steps' success has indeed been phenomenal bearing in mind they have had only a couple of hits. According to Rock Records, their debut single 5,6,7,8 (released in November) is the 'best-selling single this decade' not to have made it to the top 10 singles chart. Their current single, Last Thing On My Mind is doing even better and is climbing the British singles chart. Apart from the catchy tunes, Steps' appeal also comes from their shiny smiles, good looks and different (but equally bubbly) personalities. While Richards was in an all-girl group after she left school, Lee, from Wales, is a qualified dance teacher and had appeared in variety and cabaret shows. Art college graduate Watkins (nicknamed 'H' for hyper) is also from Wales and was a children's entertainer in a holiday camp before the Steps audition. Tozer had been a resident singer at a London hotel and Latchford was a keen footballer before going to theatre school where he spent five years. So talent, it seems, is hardly something that they lack. 'I think from our background you'd know we can sing,' Tozer says. 'We are lucky we have some good looking people here but that wasn't one of the main things. It was purely talent that brought us together. 'It is naive to assume by putting five people in a room, they can write a song and they make a hit single. It doesn't work like that. We are learning to write together.' She says 5,6,7,8 shows they are all well-trained and strong dancers and Last Thing On My Mind is more challenging in that it stretches them vocally. After selling 300,000 copies of their debut single, Steps believe there is an audience for their music. Musically, the group says it is influenced by ABBA. In fact, they have even been compared with the Swedish group that brought us 70s Glam and Dancing Queen. Isn't this alarming? 'No! I think that is fantastic,' says Tozer. 'It's brilliant being compared with the greatest pop group in the whole world.' Richards adds: 'ABBA is still selling millions and millions of albums every year and they are not even together any more. So they are still making an absolute fortune.' Despite the ABBA influence, it is the S.A.W - Stock, Aitken and Waterman - bubble-gum music factory who will be bringing them any success. 'The big men,' Watkins beams at the mention of their names. 'We sort of trust their [musical] judgments.' With that taken care of, it looks as if the group is stepping in the right direction.