JLS

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Boy bands were huge when I was younger like NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and Hanson. Ask anyone in our generation, and they can list off a million tracks to you from these bands from '€˜Tearing Up My Heart'€ to '€œShow Me the Meaning of Being Lonely'€ and the big one with '€œMmbop'€. This type of music clearly has staying power as Backstreet Boys and Hanson have continued to put out new records (both have one this summer!) and NSYNC was the starting point for some power house artist you may just know as Justin Timberlake.

The newest addition to both this strong history and the Jive Family is crossing over from the UK right now and their name is JLS. With two hit singles already in the UK, including the fastest growing debut single of 2009, Marvin, JB, Aston and Oritse are becoming an unstoppable force and they'€™re bringing their sound to the US as you read this. Here to record their debut album for the US, they will be going around the country to promote their debut single here, '€œEverybody In Love'€ which most likely by the time you'€™ve read this interview, you'€™ve already heard it on the radio or seen it on television. The boys told me in our interview that they'€™re giving the best they can to America with some tracks off the first and some from the second to really give it their best shot!

The band first formed about three years ago and after just a year together as a band made it to second place on the highly popular X Factor show in the UK which is similar to the show American Idol here in the states along with a mutual judge, Simon Cowell. I got the chance to sit down with the quartet while they were in Boston to kick off a day of firsts in the words of Aston from the band. That day, they traveled to four states, had their first live interview, heard their song on the radio for the first time in America and so much more! Read on for my time with the boys delving into things like who brought the most luggage to America, their major influences and how the band first formed!

JLS Interview
[Q:] So you'€™re on a promo tour of the US?

Full: Absolutely.

[Q:] We know the fame you've experienced in the UK with the two number one singles, and your experience on the X Factor but here in the US, I know you are just starting to break through with "Everybody In Love". How are you trying to spread the word of JLS here in the states?

Marvin: Well, we'€™ve got a great team you know. We'€™re signed to Jive in the US and they work extremely hard for us. We'€™re working very hard as well so we'€™re trying to go to as many places as possible in the time that we'€™ve got and its paying off, we'€™re gaining momentum on radio with the track '€˜Everybody in Love'€™ and on iTunes as well. That'€™s the plan of action really.

[Q:] And how have people been reacting to that, I mean you'€™ve only played two gigs so far in the US.

Oritsé: It'€™s been pretty insane actually because the last two gigs that we have done, they'€™re have been girls with JLS hoodies in America. We'€™re like '€˜How did they get them in America?! Do they order them from the website, did they come to England to come to one of the shows?'€™ but you know it'€™s amazing to even see a mere few JLS hardcore supporters in America. For us, it was absolutely incredible, after the show we were like '€˜Did you see that? Did you see the hoodies?'€™ Everybody was like '€œyeah, yeah, yeah, we saw the hoodies!'€ So, it'€™s really cool and you know we just want to come and bring and spread the music through out the country. You know, hopefully America can get a good taste of what we give our supporters and fans back in England.

[Q:] Perfect, and then obviously you were on the X Factor and you were judged by people like Simon Cowell and Cheryl who we obviously know are pretty influential in the music. How was it to be judged by these guys that are huge in music?

Marvin: It'€™s great to be judged by them, you know. It helps you improve, helps you get better. So for us, those guys are kind of like the basis and set the foundation for the moment. Each week as we did the show, we hopefully improved and wanted to be better and give the best performance ever. We worked hard and we were lucky we got to second runner up or I should say first runner up. So we came second in the show and everything sort of stemmed from there.

[Q:] And how did the band first come together?

Oritsé: I put the band together three years ago. Literally, I wanted to be in a group situation with vocal harmony, it'€™s always nice to hear different harmonies and be able to harmonize with different people. I just went around advertising, went to every music shop in London, to every university advertising. On the advertisement, I put '€˜I'€™m looking for members for a super group'€™, because I wanted to be with the best of the best. Through a mutual friend, I found Marvin and we met up one weekend. I actually came to meet him a day before I was supposed to and I called him up and I was like '€˜Where are you bro?'€™ In my head, I'€™m thinking this shows his dedication already and then Marvin said '€˜No no no, it'€™s the wrong day'€™.
Marvin: He was very, uh, keen.
Oritsé: So we met up the day afterwards and then Marvin knew Aston from a few auditions and stuff. I called Aston, he was on the football pitch and I said '€˜Do you want to come down to an audition today?'€™. I searched his myspace and everything and he just said yes. He didn'€™t even know what he said yes to and came along.
Marvin: He liked the sound of Ortisé's voice.
Oritsé: Oh, well thank you! (everyone laughs) and then I found JB thru a friend. I was at the X Factor competition that was being held near my university and I was on a break so I went down the line looking for people and there was no one there, but there was an artist development company that was searching for talent and I got to speaking with them and discovered that Pixie Lott was trained under them and JB was under them as well. So I got in touch with JB and it was just magic the first time we actually got together and started singing.

[Q:] How long was the band together before you went on the show?

Aston: A year and a bit. The show was literally when we first got together, the season beforehand was actually underway in the audition process and obviously we had a discussion when we first got together '€˜Did we want to do it then'€™ and then we were like no, we want to wait another year. We wanted to progress and obviously you know get tight as a unit and then a year and a bit later we decided to audition for the show. It was quite funny because we were at JB'€™s auntie'€™s barbecue and she was the one who advised us and thought '€˜you might as well do it, good opportunity'€™ and well we took that chance.

[Q:] Who would you say are some of your bigger musical influences?

Marvin: I would think the biggest ones is Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Justin Timberlake. Groups like NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, Jodeci, groups back home. We'€™ve got a wide range of influences. Alicia Keyes, Maxwell, we love loads of different artists between the four of us and I think alternative and indie stuff as well, Coldplay, the Killers and Kings of Leon. You know, we'€™re big fans of music so we like a wide range of stuff.

[Q:] How do you go about the songwriting process because I know your new album came out in the UK?

Orits̩: Well, we'۪ve always been very much involved with our creativity. Even before the record deal, even before the management deal, when we got together, we would have writing sessions. So, we were used to kind of writing with each other so by the time it came to write our first album which we wrote most of, it was a fantastic experience for us because we could really get creatively involved with professional producers and write along the songwriters and we followed that on to now the second album. That'۪s one of the big reasons why we'۪re here in America as well. It'۪s to be writing our second album which hopefully will be bigger and better than the last. You know, it'۪s going to be a mix of the first album and the new stuff from the second album so we'۪re going to give America the best.

[Q:] So that'€™s how you'€™re going to go about your debut in the US?

JB: Well, yeah that'€™s the plan but obviously that'€™s not set in concrete yet. Just working on releasing '€˜Everybody in Love'€™ and seeing how that does, and you know with our relationship with Jive and our management as well, and they'€™ll give us advice about the best way to go releasing and having a record out here in the states as well. I'€™m sure, you know, given the test of time, we'€™ll be releasing albums over here, hopefully one a year. You never know!

[Q:] And I know this is crazy to think about, but if you weren'€™t doing music what do you think you would be doing?

Marvin: I would probably be selling real estate, I was in that back home in the UK.
Orits̩: I'۪d probably be, um, I was in university and I was working with disabled kids so I'۪d probably still be working with kids and stuff.
Aston: I would probably be auditioning and if not, already working in something in entertainment somewhere.
JB: And I would of probably have wanted to play professional rugby but I can'€™t say if I would have ever actually got to that. (Looks at Marvin who is smirking). Yeah we don'€™t need to worry about that! (everyone starts laughing.)

[Q:] And what'€™s the craziest thing you'€™ve seen or experienced?

Orits̩: I think it was the first time we came out of the show! For us, it was big, it was crazy because literally you'۪re stuck in this bubble for how long?
Aston: Three months.
Orits̩: Stuck in this bubble, you'۪re in this X Factor house, you don'۪t see the outside world, and the first time we came out of the show it was like JLS mayhem. We had our homecoming gig in Croydon, and there were girls tearing down barriers, ripping out each others'۪ hair, trying to climb over things to get to us.
JB: Crazy.
Oritsé: We had to have a full police escort, it was seriously unreal. It was like something you'€™d watch in a movie or something and when we did the show, the way the show was built like, it was with our families behind us and they were looking at us in total shock and we turned to them and said '€˜We don'€™t know, we'€™re sorry'€™ you know but yeah that was probably for us the most memorable experience.
Aston: And it'€™s not the only time it'€™s happened.
Marvin: No.
Aston: Quite a few times.
Marvin: That was our first experience like that though.
Aston: Like we'€™ve gone on to perform, and because of fans erupting the gig gets canceled because people were too excited and stuff, which is an incredible compliment. It'€™s crazy to think about. Having to cancel your gig because kids are too excited to see you.
All : Yeah!

[Q:] What can fans look forward to in 2010 from you guys?

JB: Well we'€™re planning on, hopefully we'€™re going to be between the label and management, you know. Hopefully we can go on tour with Justin Bieber or Rihanna at some point this year. We'€™re doing some six flags gigs as well, I believe ten dates something like that and we'€™re doing different road shows, different out door shows, different radio shows. I couldn'€™t say all of them right now but you know we'€™re definitely going to have them on our website, www.jlsofficial.com. Hopefully, you'€™ll be able to see two or three or four songs you know as opposed to just one.

[Q:] Then I asked for fan questions on twitter, and @JLSHardCoreFans actually asked, '€˜How are you enjoying your time in the states and who brought the most luggage?'€™ (all the boys start laughing)

Marvin: Surprisingly, Orits̩ usually brings the most but he didn'۪t this time. I actually think I brought the most. I brought two suitcases and the rest of them only brought one each. I think JB brought an empty one.
Orits̩: I thought we were only allowed to bring one and I knew the guys were going to have a go at me if I brought too much luggage so I made sure I brought one. I only brought one pair of trainers and they'۪ve all been teasing me about it so-
Marvin: It'€™s because we'€™re only here for probably about six weeks so you know for us it'€™s a time where you know we'€™re just having the time of our lives in America so it'€™s amazing. It'€™s kind of refreshing that people don'€™t really like recognize us as well. You know the four of us can just go and hang out together.
Oritsé: Except for just now (two older people had approached the band for autographs for their sisters).
Marvin: And no one really knows who we are so that'€™s really cool.
JB: At the end of the day, somebody will come up to us and we were at the airport recently in Chicago and someone came up to us and said '€˜Guys, are you in a group or something?'€™. We were like '€œ'€¦yes. How did you know?'€ She was just like '€˜I don'€™t know, you just look like a group or something'€. She didn'€™t know who we were, I guess she recognized that we were all together and sort of did everything together.
Marvin: Somebody will know our song before they know us. We were in a restaurant the other day and someone asked you know '€˜What do we do'€™ so I said '€˜We'€™re singers and we got this record out here and we sing the song'€™, she goes '€˜I know that song!'€™. It'€™s just like people know the song before they'€™re really getting to know us now which is cool you know! We'€™ve got a lot of work to do out here and we'€™re not afraid of hard work. We want to give the USA our very best shot so we'€™re working hard.
Oritsé: Absolutely. Everybody in love, put your hands up! (ends in everyone laughing)

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