Musical merits aside, much of the appeal of boy bands is in their ability to delude teenage girls into believing all those soppy love songs are genuine. Human Nature, the Australian quartet whose material includes such ballads as Love Unconditional and Don't Say Goodbye, prefer however to come clean on that front. 'With pop music, a lot of it is about love. But I think if a pop musician wrote that many songs about love and he was involved in all of them, he'd be a pretty screwed-up guy,' said member Phil Burton, in Hong Kong with the rest of Human Nature to open for Celine Dion at her Kai Tak concert last week. 'Some of it comes from experience, but none of us have ever had any really screwed-up love lives. You might come up with a little idea for what the song is going to be about, but then, expanding on it, you try to put yourself in that position.' Whatever similarities may exist between this foursome and the plethora of polished pop singers that have been paraded through Asia, Human Nature, who write many of their own lyrics, insist they are not a 'boy band'. But the comparisons are to be expected: in addition to the look and the sound, the quartet entered the industry three years ago in the middle of a boy band explosion. 'We sort of got dragged into that for a while, but we were trying to fight it. 'If we keep releasing great music, then that's what is going to keep us going and keep people interested in what we do,' said Toby Allen, 25. Nevertheless their brand of sugary pop and R & B melodies has attracted legions of screaming teenagers in their native Australia. According to Andrew Tierney, 24, adoring girls is part and parcel of the industry. 'Naturally pop music appeals to younger people, it is often very idealistic and it's something they can look up to. We're singing songs about relationships and they feel like they can learn from that or dream of being in something like that. We went through that stage as well, and hopefully we can keep young people interested, and people our age as well,' he said. These poster boys have opted to tackle the constant glare of adulation with a sense of humour. The quartet shocked some fans in late 1997 with a nude photo shoot in Australian magazine Black And White. The pressure to be role models has not affected them, but they do admit that being emblazoned across teenage bedrooms is sometimes rather awe inspiring. 'Going around Australia we meet a lot of our fans, and they bring photographs of their rooms. It's a great feeling I guess because they appreciate what you do, but it doesn't change us in any way,' said Allen. The group, rounded up by founder Andrew Tierney's brother Michael, 22, have been together for a decade. Originally named 4Trax, the four Sydney school mates spent six years sending out demos, entering talent contests and performing wherever they could. At the end of 1995 they landed a deal with Sony Music, and, after a name change, released their first single, Got It Goin' On, in early 1996. Their debut album Telling Everybody proceeded to sell more than 250,000 copies in Australia, and attracted considerable attention in Japan, Indonesia and Germany. It won them four nominations at Australia's ARIA music awards, while being selected to open for Michael Jackson, and Dion, on tours of Australia and Europe in 1997, brought further recognition. The group were pleased with their performance at Dion's SAR concert, and thrilled at the chance to play to 20,000 people during their first performance in Hong Kong, particularly in such a 'weird' setting. 'The crowd was a bit more subdued than we're used to. It was much older, lots of families. They just applauded politely. But it was good for us, our show had some moments in there which were just about our voices and the singing, I think people really appreciated that,' said Tierney. Human Nature are gearing up for the release of follow-up album Counting Down in May this year. A bonus for Asian fans on the album is Mo Mo Ai Ni, a track originally performed by Taiwanese star Coco Lee. The quartet sing in Mandarin, and even flew to Taiwan to perform it with Lee last year. It is reflective of a new, more worldly sound for the boys. 'Travelling, you get to hear a lot more music than you do just sitting at home in Australia. I think the first album, we really were making it a little bit blindly. We didn't know what was going on in the rest of the world. This one has a lot of that experience, so it's not as naive,' Tierney said. Michael Tierney and Allen believe the evolution also stems from being three years older and being more accustomed to studio work. The resulting sound, they say, is much more confident. Despite the intransigence of the pop industry, the four young men are confident of their future. 'We're still relatively inexperienced, and learning new things every day,' Burton said. 'There are always steps forward, we're not bored yet. Hopefully we won't be for a long time.'