Interview with The Wanted
I met up with The Wanted together with representatives from other media outlets for a roundtable interview, with the band very relaxed (not a trace of jetlag) and munching on Skittles, even offering some to us. We took turns to ask questions throughout the interview, which resulted in a great variety. Tom and Jay were clearly the chatty ones in the group, especially Tom. The youngest, Nathan, seemed the most shy, staying in the back most of the time.
What’s your impression of Singapore so far?
Max: The people are so nice.
Tom: We came out of the restaurant this morning, and five people were saying “thank you very much” and they queued up to say “have a nice day”!
Jay: In UK you think “Where are all the trees? Where’s the sun? Where are the smiles?”
You guys just attended the BRIT Awards, what was it like?
Tom: It was amazing to be nominated and getting No. 1 and No. 2, since we’ve only been together 8 months. Doing a Comic Relief single was also really cool, and we try to do as much for charity as we can, and we’ve been really busy, so just to be involved was amazing.
Which celebrity on the red carpet were you guys most excited to meet?
Tom: Cheryl Cole for me.
Max: And Eminem, but he didn’t show up. He let me down.
Jay: I have Bieber fever!
So how did the dynamics of the band work out in the beginning? What was the biggest challenge in working together?
Jay: Actually as five, there aren’t many problems. It’s mainly with the record company, because the five of us have the same goals and what we want are all the same, but sometimes the record company wants something different. Tom can be really rash in a meeting and I’ll sit back too much and allow stuff to be said that shouldn’t be said, so we need to find a level to communicate with them. As a five, we’re a team and the record company has given us amazing support but sometimes we have different ideas. But so far it’s been going really smoothly.
Max: Yeah like Jay said, we don’t really have any issues. But sometimes someone comes up with a concept in the studio, and he clearly put a lot of thought and effort into it, and everyone’s just standing around and it’s just… awkward silence.
You guys are compared to other boybands a lot, so what makes you different from boybands such as Westlife?
Jay: I guess they do a lot of covers, and stuff that has been given to them. We write some songs, and we’ve got massive pride in our music and its music we like and not music that the record company gives us that is forced on us. Also, we’re really bad at dancing. Westlife also doesn’t have an Asian Irishman!
There’s been a revival of boybands and much attention has been given to indie music lately, so how do you guys compete with all these indie musicians for listeners?
Tom: We tried to involve as many genres as possible when writing the album, we didn’t want to stick to one genre. Obviously we’ve got elements of rock, R&B…
Jay: Actually, we’re indie too!
Tom: Yeah, obviously when we were writing we wanted it to appeal to a lot of people, and not just young girls, but to all the guys and all the girls. I think we’ve achieved that by mixing all the genres.
With the success of this album, what direction would you want the next album to have?
Jay: I think the work we’ve been using is great. What we’ve made is an accurate representation of different aspects of what we’re all like, the album tracks that we really like, singles we love. We’re going to take those, build on them, change them a little bit, change the genre, make more quality and content…
Max: Spend more time on them.
Jay: Yeah, because the first one was also about getting to know whose voices fit and who works well as a lyricist and finding a melody. The second album will be difficult, but I think it will be a real joy to make it.
Siva: I think we’re going to take our experience and produce it more like Guy Chambers, since he’s a perfectionist.
How did you feel about working with writers that have written for divas like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera?
Tom: We worked with Taio Cruz, and Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams wrote a song for us on the album as well. Obviously as musicians, we know what Guy Chambers has done for artists like Robbie Williams. But in the end, he’s just a regular guy, and just as mental as we all are! It’s intimidating at first, but you get used to it, and we’re looking forward to writing with a lot of big artists on our next album.
Do you think it’s better to be formed outside the public eye or on a show such as The X Factor like One Direction?
Jay: If you want instant fans, then you should be a on a TV show, since you’ll have loyalty from the very beginning and they’ll see you from the grassroots and vote for you and follow you to the end. For us it worked better away from TV, since it was less dramatic and it was about finding who fits together, and ours was really intensely focused on that.
All of you have Twitter accounts, so what do you think of the entire experience of interacting with your fans so far?
Max: They actually made us!
Tom: Yeah, because we didn’t have a platform like a TV show every week, so we had to build it up from somewhere, and social networking is the best form of communication, especially since we can’t go out and physically meet every single fan we‘ve got. We’ve seen it grow tremendously over the last 8 months, and you feel that a friendship is built even though you’ve never met, almost like an internet friendship. And when we meet them in person you already feel like you know the person. So for bands like us, social networking is pretty much essential.
Your pictures are all sultry and sexy, so you have an image you have to portray to the public and music industry. How do you express your individual personality in your music and shows?
Max: We do a lot of things on camera, and try to show as much behind-the-scenes footage as possible, on our weekly Wanted Wednesday videos. So the fans can see what we do on a day-to-day basis, and we try to get involved as much as possible. Whether it’s our good or bad bits, we show them all.
How do you keep yourself grounded with stardom and success?
Siva: Family is the one thing that keeps us all grounded.
Jay: We also keep each other grounded by telling the truth, especially when someone says something really flattering.
Tom: Yeah, we need people that surround us every day, who tell us the truth. We’re just five lads from working class backgrounds.
Max: If someone told me I’ve changed, I’ll quit.
Siva: I hope that’s not tomorrow!
This is for all the fan girls out there, what’s your ideal girl like?
Jay: I wouldn’t mind if she dresses with boho style, someone chill and a bit funny. Beautiful helps as well.
Siva: I would go for confident, wears high heels, nice hands, courageous.
Nathan: That’s the opposite of you!
Max: I’d say funny, ambitious and someone that’s very family oriented.
Nathan: I like a girl who’s really cute, quite chilled out and carefree, like me!
Tom: I like a girl who’s really outgoing, doesn’t really take herself too seriously, looks-wise, maybe like Angelina Jolie/Megan Fox?
Max: That’s such a bad mix!
Jay: Who would want that?!
Who in the group is attached or available?
Jay: Tom, Nathan and I are single, and Siva is in a very long-term relationship, while Max is in a new relationship.
So Max and Siva, how do you manage your career and your relationship?
Max: Well for me, I’ve only been with the girl for 3 months, and we haven’t travelled for this long before, so it’s a bit weird, but it’s great! Except the phone bill!
Siva: Lots of Skype!
Jay: Siva’s girlfriend actually leaves him notes in his socks, underwear, to say “I miss you” and things like that.
Siva: We were in Germany on Valentine’s Day, so the Saturday before Valentine’s Day I brought her out for dinner, to have a meal, so we would still have some sort of dinner. We make it work.
Nathan: This makes him sound like such a romantic!
Talking about tours and showcases, what is the thing that excites you the most when you’re on stage?
Jay: It may be cliché, but it’s when someone sings the lyrics back to me. I cannot believe I saw those words on a piece of paper in the studio with the alternate words, changed to what they are now, someone’s messy handwriting all over it, and now someone sings it back to me.
Max: I like when these really big, tough guys in the crowd get absolutely mushy.
Siva: Just to get it out there, I’m an awful dancer.
Siva: So I’m on stage, and I’m jumping up and down like an idiot, and the fans love the music so much that they dance with me, and they jump up and down with me, and that’s the best thing, to have someone else dance as badly as me!
So where do you see yourself in 5 years time, besides singing or composing music?
Jay: Right now I feel like saying I wouldn’t do music with other people because it wouldn’t feel right, but who knows? Well I like writing, journalism. So you guys better watch out!
Siva: I used to be really good at science, I did Biotechnology for a year, and I would go back into it. That, or Bollywood!
Max: I want to do film, but that’s not easy. If not, it would be great to study great white sharks. I have a passion for them.
Nathan: I’ll be a judge on The X Factor.
Jay: You’ll be 22 in 5 years! No way!
Nathan: Cheryl did it!
Jay: Yeah she’s female, and she’s 26!
Tom: I would probably do Geography, I did it for a year at university, and never got a chance to finish my course, so I’ll probably go back and finish it.
Nathan: So basically, we all quit music.
Max: I think I’ll do some rubbish films like Elvis did, then come back and be bigger than ever!
Pix by Su Zanne Ong