The evening before our interview with visiting UK boy band The Wanted, the Star Observer attended the launch of the boys’ Australian debut single, the Eurodance-inspired Glad You Came.
The quintet proved their vocal chops in a five-song set, even surprising cynics by picking up guitars and playing an acoustic ballad at one stage. There was nary a choreographed dance routine in sight.
“We all played instruments on tour — well, Tom played tambourine,” Jay, the group’s most talkative member on the day we met (and also rather adorable, all scruffy curls and cheeky quips), said.
“We try to break that boy band stereotype as much as we can without getting all rock star.”
The launch showed that, thanks to the powers of the internet, they weren’t starting their assault on the Australian charts entirely from scratch. A few dozen young female fans stood in front of the stage, hyperventilating over their heartthrobs. One squealing lass even flashed the boys her tattoo — a lyric from one of their songs.
“We’d had a few tweets from Australian fans. It’s one thing to read a tweet from someone who likes your music, but it’s another to be faced with crazy fans,” Tom said.
Despite the young ages of the five members — alongside Tom and Jay there are the striking Irish/Sri Lankan Siva, big-voiced baby of the group Nathan and resident scally sex bomb Max, all ranging in age from 18 to 23 — they arrived at The Wanted with various levels of industry experience.
Max had even done time in another boy band, Avenue, before the group formed via a mass audition. How deliciously Spice Girls.
“We did it the old-school way, being put together by audition,” Nathan said.
Max, ever moody and cocksure, responded tersely.
“Everyone’s put together, though. Every group is assembled by someone. And it feels like a distant memory now. It’s like, how were we put together again?”
Extending the Spice Girls metaphor, is there a Ginger Spice lurking in their midst, ready to try his luck at a solo career?
“No, we’re all in this for the long haul. If one of us ever decides to leave to pursue a solo career, we’d hope that they’d fail,” Jay said, tongue planted firmly in cheek.
“I’m just gonna leave ’cos I’m sick of yers. I ain’t really bovvered about a solo career,” Max joked.
Let’s hope they do stick around, because the music released so far has been surprisingly strong — the sweeping strings and crashing guitars of UK debut single All Time Low owe more of a debt to Coldplay than Steps.
“Being in a boy band, naturally it’s the package that first attracts the female fans — and when I say package, I’m not talking about my dick,” Jay said.
“But then it’s also got to be music that the fans like, and that we like performing. It’s the sort of music that we’d buy ourselves — if we didn’t know it was being made by a boy band.”
They described their soon-to-be-released second album as “more uptempo”, and influenced by the dance sounds, from dubstep to David Guetta, dominating the UK charts. A club-ready change in sound should be welcomed by their gay fans, a section of the audience the band have no qualms about playing up to.
Not least of all Max, most recently seen gracing the cover of British gay magazine Attitude in a very clingy wet T-shirt.
“Oh yeah, his wet T-shirt competition!” Tom laughed.
“It weren’t a competition, orright? I’m on the front cover of a gay magazine every other week, I am,” Max said proudly.
“We’ve got a great gay following, and we’ve played G.A.Y. a few times — we always have a big messy night.”
“Our tour manager’s gay,” Nathan continued, “so he loves it when we perform at gay clubs. We chill out with a few drinks after the show, and he goes around the club on the pull.”
With groups like Boyzone and Westlife having paved the way, how would The Wanted handle it if one of their own were to come out (dear God, please let it be Max)?
“It’s such a non-issue in the UK now. I think we’re the sort of group where, if it comes to something like that, we’d be honest with the fans. I mean, three of us are in long-term relationships, and we’re not trying to hide that,” Jay said.
Is that wise, though? Do The Wanted’s young female fans really want to know three of the band members have a missus waiting at home?
“When we first started, certain people wanted to make us a product, and probably wanted us to lie about being in relationships,” Jay said.
But I think they very quickly realised life would be a lot easier for them and for us if they didn’t have that expectation. It’s too hard to fit a square peg into a round hole — it’s better to improve the peg.
“What a shit metaphor.”
INFO: Glad You Came (Universal) out now.