By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
It is a thrill to welcome English supergroup Collabro to Jake’s Take!
Michael Auger, Richard Hadfield, Jamie Lambert, Matt Pagan and Thomas J. Redgrave captured the world’s attention when they showed off their impeccable harmonies when they auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent (BGT).
After winning the show’s eighth season, the band signed a joint recording contract with Syco Music and Sony Music Entertainment and released their first studio album: Stars.
The album, which features the band’s interpretations of classic musical theatre tracks and Top 40 favorites, found its way to the top spot of the Official Charts Company’s UK Albums and #15 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart!
In addition, the guys just kicked off their first tour of the United Kingdom and are capturing audience’s hearts at each stop.
In this edition of A Conversation, the men of Collabro talked about their highlights from BGT, the challenges of recording Stars and which artists would they like to collaborate with in the future!
Jacob Elyachar: Could you please share Collabro’s origin story with my readers?
Matt Pagan: Jamie and I were doing a contract for a Broadway show in 2013. The choreographer of the show, Jamie and I discussed the idea of putting a group together. We were fed up not getting jobs in the West End. It is very hard to get an audition for a job in the West End. We wanted to put a group together that would perform show tunes on cruise ships and at corporate events. But, then the opportunity to audition for Britain’s Got Talent came about. We auditioned Tom and Michael for the group and found Richard on YouTube singing “Bring Him Home,” which we sang in the BGT semi-finals. We got together and rehearsed and then, we went to audition for Britain’s Got Talent.
JE: Which judge did the group want to impress the most?
Jamie Lambert: We love all of the judges, but the one judge that we wanted to impress the most was Simon Cowell. He really knows what he is doing and is a powerful figure in the music industry. We wanted to work for him since we auditioned and now we are signed to his record label!
JE: Last year, the group was in the most competitive music category in the show’s eight seasons! What were some of the strategies that the group implemented to make sure that the public voted you through to the final round?
Thomas J. Redgrave: Simon Cowell stated that musical theatre could be too theatrical or too cabaret, so he was worried about what we could come up with. We had a very clear idea on what we wanted to be as artists. The brilliant thing about musical theatre is that you could take a story or an emotion and tell it to an audience. Sometimes, it could make an impact with them depending on the musical styles. If you make the song powerful enough, it can resonate within your audience.
JE: What were some of your personal highlights from your time on “Britain’s Got Talent”?
MP: My personal highlight was what happened after we auditioned, we did not get to hear what the judges had to say after we left the stage. All of us were watching the first audition with our families and we saw Simon telling the others: “That (their performance) was a hit record.” We were all speechless because hearing him say that was incredible!
Richard Hadfield: When Simon said that, my parents and I jumped up-and-down with delight! We were going: “Oh my god! I cannot believe he just said that!” Another favorite moment came when Ant & Dec announced that we won the competition. Seeing our families and being in the same room with all of the people that made it to the finals like Lettice Rowbotham, Lucy Kay, the Jack Pack and the rest of our competitors, it meant so much to us. All of us have been on the show for so long that we made these friendships that we are going to have for a very long time.
JE: How did “BGT” help you grow as artists?
JL: When we got into the Semifinals, we performed in front of 12,000,000 people across the country and around the world. It was a lot of pressure because not only did we have to develop as a group, but it also tested both our friendship and showmanship. I thought we did a good job with our presentations.
JE: As winners of “Britain’s Got Talent,” the group performed at the 2014 Royal Variety Performance! Not only did you perform in front of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but also the group shared the bill with music legends Bette Midler and Dame Shirley Bassey, plus several of your highly respected peers including Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran and One Direction. How did that experience help the group prepare for your tour?
RH: Not only the fact that we performed in royalty is a big deal, but also sharing the stage with so many fantastic people who are extremely talented put a lot of pressure on us. The scariest thing that I was worried about the most was meeting the Royals! It was very nerve-wracking for me! Before the show, I asked Harry Styles for advice and he shared his previous experience with me. He told me that there will be dozens of people telling me what to do and that everything was going work out and I will get it right! It seemed that all of our nerves transformed into adrenaline when the curtain opened and we sang the first notes of “Say Something.”
JE: Let’s talk about the tour! You are currently traveling across the United Kingdom promoting “Stars.” Could you please describe the support that you received to my readers?
Michael Auger: From the word, “Go,” we received standing ovation after standing ovation, which is more than we could have ever asked for. The first two shows were in Matt’s hometown of Carlisle and the reception that we got there was incredible. When we came on stage to the Britain’s Got Talent music, everyone was on their feet before we even sang a note. It kept going that way all night! We performed the songs from BGT, as well as tracks from Stars. We could not be more grateful towards our supporters who were there every step of the way!
JE: Is there a possibility of touring North America?
MP: We would love to!
RH: We would absolutely love to come to the states!
TJR: If we had the chance of performing in America, we would 100-percent jump on that opportunity.
JE: I want to talk about your debut album, “Stars.” What were some of the challenges that you faced while you recorded the album? How did you overcome them?
TJR: A lot of us have not spent anytime in the recording studio! However, the person who had the biggest challenge to overcome during the recording process was Matt. He became extremely ill just as we started to record. (Looks at Matt) What did you have?
MP: I had a bad case of laryngitis. (JE: Oy!)
RH: When he recovered, we were amazed that he was able to record all of his parts in just a few days before the deadline!
TJR: We only had 10 days to record the whole album! It is very crazy that people like Cheryl have over the year to record in the studio, while we had to bang it out in 10 days. It was our first professional push-in-the-deep-end experience, but it was invaluable.
JE: Which artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?
MP: I think all of us have different ideas. But, I would love to have the chance to record with Ramin Karimloo. He is absolutely an incredible musical theatre performer.
JL: I have always said: Beyoncé! (The guys laugh) She puts an amazing amount of emotion into everything she does. Also, she would be a very cool person to do musical theatre with.
RH: We would also like to work with Pentatonix! They are phenomenal and have gone from strength-to-strength. The way they use their voices vocally is what we are trying to do as well.
TJR: A few months ago, we met Lea Salonga when she performed with Il Divo. As we chatted, we were half-joking and half-seriously talking about collaborating with her! I would also like to collaborate with American actor Gavin Creel. He just finished The Book of Mormon in the West End and we are huge fans of everything he does!
JE: How has social media helped the group not only connect with your fans, but also grow your online presence?
JL: We have a really huge group of fans called the collaborators! They have been the most dedicated fans and have supported us since we first appeared on BGT. We actually saw two of them last night at one of our concerts. These people come to everything that we do and we would not be anywhere without them! We have a lot of them on Twitter and we have a good Facebook following, plus we even have followers on Instagram.
MP: We even have people post videos on YouTube for us! In fact, two American girls named Hailey and Heaven would post a video message for us every week. They are also trying to get us on Ellen! (The guys laugh)
JE: If you had the chance to meet with an aspiring group of musicians who want to enter the entertainment industry, what advice would you share?
MP: We took a massive risk by going on Britain’s Got Talent. This act is completely new and we were 50/50 spilt about doing it. But, the risk paid off! If you want to go on a show like BGT, go for it!
RH: If you are a singer, magician or performer, just put yourself out on YouTube! You will never know who is going to be watching those videos. I was putting out videos constantly and then, this fantastic band saw my two-minute video picked me out. It is crazy how the world works, if you put yourself out there…the more people will see you.
TJR: You got to stay true to yourself! We wanted to perform musical theatre, so we sing songs from musical theatre shows. We want to make our material accessible in popular culture. You would not have seen our stuff in the charts before!
MA: I would add that you should keep going and enjoy the process! At times, it can be really difficult. We did 12-hour-days film shoots while we were on BGT and they used about 10 seconds when the show aired! So, you have to keep your spirits up and that is why it is great to have five of us together and we have each others’ backs.
JL: Who knows what is around the corner. So, do not stop! If you want to do something, keep doing it!