Hello Andy. What have you got to tell us today?
Well I'm just in central London recording some ISDNs promoting our new single 'Taking Over Me', which is out on Sunday.
Jesus Christ, that's a record. We're twelve seconds in and you've already managed to crowbar in the title and release date. Anyway for non-popstar people who are reading this, an ISDN interview is usually a famous person sitting in a grotty room somewhere answering questions all day, is that right?
Very true. Yeah, we sit in a room and we talk to radio stations up and down the country and answer questions. We just tell them all about the single and ask people to order it on iTunes so we can get back into that Top 5 like we did with our first single 'When She Was Mine'.
Which is better, your first single or this single?
This one grew on me more. When I first wrote it I didn't really like it that much to be honest. I thought there was nothing to it. But when we started gigging it and playing it live, I grew to love it and now it just won't leave my head. But I think 'When She Was Mine' was more interesting. When I wrote that I remember thinking it was quite Scripty, and they're like my favourite band. And I was thinking, 'this could be a great song for them'.
FYI, the current single is approximately three-and-a-half times better than the first one.
Everyone has said that, so I must be wrong.
The thing is, you just keep writing the songs, and we'll judge whether they're good enough. It's like sending a dog out down the mines to rescue miners, you have to just let it go.
Exactly, mate, exactly. I'll just keep writing the songs and leave people to do the judging. And everyone does seem to prefer 'Taking Over Me' to 'When She Was Mine', and I think it is because it's a lot more simple and it just sticks in your head immediately, because the (bursts into song) 'OOOOOoooOooooOOHH' bit is infectious, and sticks in your head for days and it won't leave. So, yeah, maybe that's why people like it more.
Do you think three-and-a-half times as many people are going to buy it?
Well, I hope so, I really do hope so. We set the bar really high with the first one. And the fans have been building and growing, we've been doing some dates with Jessie J as well, so that was nice. We did some stuff in Europe with her and we've been managing to diversify our fanbase — she had a real mix of people who came to watch her. So, hopefully, we can get in there [he's talking about the upper reaches of the charts, no Jessie J] but I know the competition is just ridiculously hard at the minute, isn't it? I'm not necessarily worried about the people that are releasing our week, it's the people who are out already that are still dominating the charts, like 'Payphone' and Florence.
Do you think these kind of songs should be banned from the chart after a certain amount of time, to give new people a chance? Maroon 5 have had their chance to sell records now, surely.
I wanna say yes for our week of release, but hopefully 'Taking Over Me' is gonna be a 'We Are Young' or 'Payphone', because everyone has said to us it 's the sort of song that you never want to take off a playlist because it sounds great on radio, so I'll have to say no to that question. Hopefully we can be that annoying band, with the song where everyone's like, 'oh, I'm sick of it'. Hopefully, that can be us. I hope so.
That's certainly an ambition.
When you say you've been writing your songs, what sort of split are we looking at in terms of you writing songs and collaborators writing with you?
There's probably about 50% on the album that I wrote myself, just me and an acoustic in a room, and 50% I wrote with collaborators. One guy I wrote a lot of stuff with called Ki Fitzgerald, we're like best mates and we get on really well and we wrote 'When She Was Mine' together. We actually didn't write 'Taking Over Me' — I wrote that with John Shanks, who produced our album — but a lot of the songs were done with Ki and also a guy called Jez Ashurst. Between the whole album, it'd probably be myself, Ki, Jez and John Shanks, our producer. The thing is, I've been writing songs for years and years and most of them were wrote before we even started the band. It was nice, I've looking forward to this first album for so long.
Now obviously you were in Avenue, who were alright, and then that all went tits up.
It did, yeah, it did. It seems like such a long time ago, that does.
It's a long time ago in people years, but in boyband years it's a lifetime.
I remember you DJd at this Avenue showcase. I think the venue was called 'Avenue', or on The Avenue or something like that, wasn't it?
It all seemed to all make sense at the time. When did you realise that was going to not work?
Well you know what it was? I think it was on the lead-up to the first single. I think I sort of, not lost faith in it — because I was best friends with Max and I still am — but it wasn't really what I wanted to do, for one, because I was more into guitars and playing in bands and stuff. But I sort of think, in the lead-up to that first single, that week it came out and it didn't even make it into the Top 100 or something. I sort of knew before we released it. I thought it didn't feel right, it didn't feel like the right time and I don't think many people bought the idea of Avenue. I don't think people bought into it. I learned a lot from it. I made a lot of friends at the management company and also from the label that I still keep in touch with today.
As you intimated with the reference to Max, you're not the first member of the band to have been subsequently signed, or kind of rescued from the dumper.
Which will the next ex-member of Avenue who you expect to be in a successful band getting a lot of airplay on Capital?
I've really no idea, I don't keep in touch with the other guys to be honest. I speak to Max all the time, but I don't know whether the other guys went into other things or are even doing music, I've no idea. But they're all very talented guys so I'm sure they'll be doing something good in music somewhere.
Very diplomatic. What's Jessie J's level of hygiene like on tour?
Her hygiene? I have no idea. But as a person herself, she's obviously an incredible artist. She was singing 'Domino' and stuff in her dressing room and we were in the dressing room next door and like, literally fangirling because she's just unbelievable, her voice is incredible. After the show, we spent like an hour together just chatting and she was so, so nice. We were a bit scared, but she was so down to earth, just a normal girl. We were backstage in her dressing room, and I went to her, 'Jessie, how old are you?' and I think she's 24 or something, and I went, 'how does it feel to be that young and like, dominating the world, musically' and was like (adopts Jessie J voice) 'I dunno, I just love crisps'. That was her answer, she just loves crisps.
What sort of crisps?
I think Salt & Vinegar, Walkers.
Let's keeping it fairly real. You think that after a certain degree of success you'd maybe be moving on the Kettle Chips.
Oh no, she was saying that she loves getting in her pyjamas and putting a movie on and just chilling out. She's so normal and so happy with that. When you meet someone who's massive and smashing it in the industry at the minute, you want them to be nice, don't you? And the worst thing in the world is for someone to be not a nice person, but she was. To be honest we've been really lucky with everyone we've met so far. I did some writing with Gary Barlow as well a couple of weeks back and it was the same with him. Just an amazing guy. So we've been really lucky.
You know this Gary Barlow song that you did, which apparently came in too late for the album?
If it had been like 'A Million Love Songs' or 'Patience' — we're talking prime Barlow here, not this rubbish he's giving to Matt Cardle, not the rubbish he's giving to Westlife. We're talking major league Barlow. So if it was one of those songs, surely it would have been worth holding the album for? And that in turn makes me wonder if the song might not have been prime Barlow. In fact it might have been a case of Cardlebarlow.
The song was amazing, it really was. It was a pure Take That ballad. Do you remember a song he had called 'I'd Wait For Life'? The song we wrote was just like that. And thing is, the album's wrote, we don't have to worry about rushing new songs out. We did our album with John Shanks in LA, so if we were going to do it properly we'd have to go back out to LA. We've got about another 4 or 5 songs that the label really wanted to be like, second or third singles. It just means we've got a great catalogue for the second album, which is probably even more important than the first.
So, what's the Barlow song called?
It's called 'Moving In My Shadow'.
What is it about?
It's basically about Gary's experience in terms of always being in the spotlight and he was saying, hopefully, in the future for us, we'd always be in the spotlight. The partner that we will be with will always have to live in the artist's shadow, you know what I mean? Obviously if they're not a famous couple like Brad Pitt and Angelina… So basically, what Gary was saying was that his wife can live in his shadow and always wear a smile, she could always wear the bravest face. If I had a girlfriend who wasn't in the spotlight, they could do the same. It's a really sentimental song. That's what I'm all about, I just love writing songs that mean something. Ryan had a tear when he went to record bass on it. So I definitely did my job.
Blimey. Even the bassist had a tear in his eye?
And he's covered in tattoos and he's the manliest guy you'll ever meet.
Bassists, notoriously, don't really feel much do they?
Soft at heart, mate.
And let's not get into drummers. What's your favourite song at the moment?
I love that new Karmin song. Have you heard that, 'Brokenhearted'? I absolutely love that song, I think it's amazing.
Why do you think it's amazing?
I just think it was instant for me. As soon as I heard the song, I might have been in a car or something, and it came on and it was one of them where you get your phone out and do that Shazam thing to find out who it is. I thought it was The Saturdays cos it really sounded like Rochelle at the start. I thought it was Rochelle or Vanessa singing at the start, but I looked on Shazam and it was this Karmin band. That's brilliant, it's so current. We've actually got a track that sounds a bit like that as well on our album, but it's sort along the same line as 'Domino' and that new Rita Ora song as well, which we really love, that sort of Katy Perry-esque, Dr Luke sound to it, which I love at the minute. I think it's just so current. So I'd definitely say that. 'Brokenhearted' by Karmin.
Moving on to your next single now, how bad would it need to be for it not to get played on Capital?
That's a good question, mate. To be honest, it still has to be a hit song for it to be played on Capital. Because the music that gets played out on there still has to be of a high standard, you know what I mean? So I never, ever take anything for granted. And the day you do, is the day you need to hang up your boots.
'Don't take it for granted' is one of the classic Laws of Pop isn't it.
It's just all about the song I think. I honestly just think it's all about the song. It doesn't matter who you are, or what you've done, what you look like. If you've got an amazing song, that's real, I think people will buy into it no matter who you are. We're lucky enough that we get played on all the radio stations, not just Capital. So you know what? I think people just love the songs and for us, that's the most important thing, you know what I mean? Not even, like, what we look like or what we represent, it's just that people believe in the songs and that's the most refreshing because it's real. It's all real, it's not like we've just gone in and had a list of songs that we like and someone's gone 'oh, someone's wrote that for you'. We were all in the studio and we all wrote it. That's what it's all about in my eyes.
When you say it doesn't matter who's singing a song or who's written it…Gary Glitter?
(Laughs) Maybe Gary Glitter would be different but he's not really my era, Gary Glitter, so I don't really relate to it, you know what I mean? You should give me someone more modern day.
It's hard to think of a modern day popstar who's into child porn. Tell you what, let's not go down this route. Good luck with the single!
Speak to you soon!
'Taking Over Me' is a) brilliant and b) out now from places like iTunes. Here is the video.