Last year, JLS were named the hardest working band in pop music. This year, no doubt they’ll live up to that title, with Aston currently judging on Got To Dance, and Marvin expecting his first child. Oh and the small feat of another massive national tour. Here, they discuss their latest album and their new sound, who their hottest girls in the world right now are (answer: me!!! and Carol Vorderman…) and what it was like meeting the Queen.
YOUR LATEST RECORD “EVOLUTION” HAS A VERY APPROPRIATE ALBUM TITLE IN EVERY SENSE. CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO OUR READERS HOW YOUR SOUND HAS EVOLVED?
Oritsé: Our sound has evolved by us growing as an act. We were in the studio for a year, writing songs that we want to write with no formula. It’s kind of gone back to how we were as a band before The X Factor, when we used to sing more R&B based music. A song like Hottest Girl In the World – a sound like that hasn’t been out since the 90s. It was a big risk but people seem to love the comeback of R&B.
YOU’VE WORKED WITH SOME OF THE HOTTEST US PRODUCERS ON THIS RECORD – WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE COLLABORATION AND WHY?
JB: How about your story with Darkchild?
O: You want to put me through this again? We were working with Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins in the studio. Marvin’s better at telling this story…
Marvin: Ok so basically we were in studio with “Darkchild” (Rodney Jerkins) who is legendary. He’s done You Rock My World for Michael Jackson. One of his big hits was Destiny’s Child Say My Name and at the beginning he whispers “Darkchild” – that’s his little stamp. So anyway, we finish this big track and we’re jumping around the room thinking we’ve got a world wide number 1 smash – hyped. We play the track from the top – Rodney’s not really getting exciting cos he’s a chilled out guy – and after the first couple of chords Oritsé looks at Rodney and goes “Darkchild”, and Rodney just totally blanks him. The intro’s still going and he looks at him again and goes “Darkchild!” a little louder – totally blanks him again – and the third time he looks at him, the verse hasn’t started yet and just asks “Darkchild?” (Everyone laughs) He blanked him again! As if to say, was it a myth? Are you not Darkchild? Oritsé being blanked by Rodney was the highlight of the whole album.
YOUR SOUND IS MUCH MORE AMERICAN – IS THIS AN INDICATION THAT YOU’RE GOING TO TRY AND CRACK THE US AGAIN?
O: I think for us it’s not about concentrating on the US. We had a top 5 with She Makes Me Wanna in the dance charts in America, but for us it’s about the rest of the world. Wherever our music has fans we wanna crack there, because we want our fans, wherever they are, to be able to meet us and we want to be able to spend time with them.
WHAT TRACK ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT FROM THE ALBUM?
M: I’m most excited about Have Your Way.
JB: Collectively we are.
M: It’s track 3 on the album. I listen to it the most. It reminds me of a song off Justin’s “Future Sex Love Sounds” album, which is one of my favourite all-time albums, but with a contemporary feel. That album was so far ahead of its time that it still sounds fresh now. So Have Your Way is an even fresher version of that for me.
IT’S INTERESTING THAT YOU BRING UP JUSTIN BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE COMPARED HOTTEST GIRL IN THE WORLD TO HIS SOUND – HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?
O: You know, Justin isn’t the only singer in the world that sings in falsetto.
IT WASN’T THAT, IT WAS MORE THE SPANISH GUITARS.
M: We’re embracing that comparison you know? When we did it in the studio we thought the middle 8 bit sounds like Michael Jackson. But to be compared to those two artists, they’re like two of my idols, I’m sure the boys agree, they’re massive for us, so it really does show how we take from our idols and inspirations and convey that on our own record.
WHO ARE YOUR HOTTEST GIRLS IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW?
O: I’m going to go with you. When I walked into this room it was just a beautiful moment.
M: My beautiful wife.
JB: My lovely girlfriend, Chloe.
M: If one of us says it, we all have to say it! (laughs)
Aston: My girlfriend.
CAN WE GET A COLLECTIVE HOTTEST GIRL, ASIDE FROM THE GIRLFRIENDS?
A: Carol Vorderman
JB: Carol Vorderman
M: Carol Vorderman
MARVIN, YOU FEATURE A LOT LESS IN THE VIDEO “HOTTEST GIRL” I THOUGHT. IS THAT BECAUSE YOU’RE A MARRIED MAN NOW?
M: It’s because I haven’t got a lead in the song.
I THOUGHT YOU MAY NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING THE SEXY DANCING WITH VIDEO GIRLS NOW?
JB: You should see some of the endings that we did that didn’t make the final cut!
M: No, no! Aston and Oritsé have leads on the verses and JB sings the pre-chorus so naturally I would feature less.
RETURNING TO THE EVOLUTION OF JLS, HOW HAS YOUR SENSE OF STYLE EVOLVED?
M: We definitely made a conscious move by changing our style. We actually changed our stylist. We had the same stylist for a while and he did an incredible job with us but we thought with this album it was time to evolve and have a bit of a change. We wanted a fresh approach.
AND HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP YOUR OWN PERSONAL STYLES?
O: Swagged Out
AND HOW HAVE YOUR LIVES EVOLVED SINCE YOUR LAST RECORD?
O: Our lives have changed incredibly. We’ve all come from not being able to afford to go on holiday, to be able to go on the most amazing holiday, treat our families and travel around the world. If you look at the diary you can just see how our lives have changed in the most incredible ways.
YOU ALWAYS SEEM REALLY HAPPY, AND HAVE A LOT OF BANTER WITH EACH OTHER – DO YOU EVER FALL OUT?
O: If it’s competitive then you’ll see our competitive side.
JB: We never fall out, we don’t need to fall out. We disagree definitely, but we don’t fall out cos there’s no need for it. We see ourselves as family because, as you say, we spend more time with each other than we do with our own real families. It’s no different to you falling out with your brother, but you still have a meal together at the end of the day. You still have the bond together, regardless of whether you disagree on something. We know not to push each other’s buttons because what does that achieve?
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER THUS FAR HAS BEEN?
O: I think it’s hard at this stage to put one highlight, but from winning two Brit awards, to performing with the Jackson brothers, to doing our own arena tour, to being the only act from a TV show to be on their 4th album.
HOW WAS THE JUBILEE PERFORMANCE?
M: It’s a day that’s gone down in history in our careers.
WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE IT ALL IN?
M: The day wasn’t actually that stressful. We got to sit backstage with Cheryl and Will.i.am.
A: We performed at 4 and were drunk by 7.
DO YOU EVER GET STARSTRUCK?
A: When we were at the Jubilee, we got a lot of compliments from people you would class as legends. They were talking to our parents and giving them compliments. Elton John was saying “I love these boys, they’re so hard working”. And Sir Paul McCartney going “these guys are great”. For him to say that to your mum – they’re the moments you go, I think they might be proud right now.
M: That was probably the most surreal day of our career, for me. Our parents and us in Buckingham palace with Kate and William and Robbie Williams, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, everyone just chatting. There were no extras or hanger-onners, just the artists, the royals and we had two guests each.
IS IT QUITE WEIRD THAT THE QUEEN MUST KNOW JLS?
All: She did!
M: She said she watches us on TV when she’s having her supper.
THE QUEEN IS NEARLY AS HARD-WORKING AS JLS.
M: People sometimes take for granted how hard she has worked for this country. The whole Jubilee brought us a new level of patriotism.
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT BIG GOAL THAT YOU HAVEN’T YET ACHIEVED?
M: International success.
JB: Releasing and touring around the world.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?
O: We’ve always said Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, even Coldplay.
O: Unless you have the right song then there isn’t any point though.
WHAT SONG DO YOU WISH WAS A JLS TRACK?
A: “Grenade” or “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars.
ARE THERE ANY JLS TRACKS YOU JUST CAN’T LISTEN TO ANY MORE?
O: That’s My Girl. Because of the routine bruv.
M: That song’s bought you a lot of fans! And you wrote it as well that’s even worse! (Laughs)
WHAT QUESTION DO YOU GET SICK OF ANSWERING IN INTERVIEWS?
M: What’s your most embarrassing moment. It’s such a draining question. It sucks the life out of me. I just make something up now.
AND FINALLY, WHO ARE YOUR IDOLS?
A: Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Usher Raymond. I’d say that was for the group.
JB: My mum and my cousin.
Thank you JLS!
Interviewed by Holly Rubenstein