If you haven’t already feasted your ears and eyes on the UK’s new boyband sensation, then you’re seriously missing out. Made up of five young (and undeniably attractive) lads, Jay McGuinness, Max George, Nathan Sykes , Siva Kaneswaran and Tom Parker, The Wanted are already rivalling some of the biggest music acts around today.
In fact, their success has come so fast and huge that you’d be forgiven in thinking that perhaps they’d got here by winning a reality TV show or through supporting big artists on tour – in actual fact they have made their name the old fashioned way – through delivering a great record.
“Last year, we were doing pub gigs and never imagined we’d get to Number One,” smiles the very handsome Siva. His chiselled good looks bring out a beaming smile, showing just how proud he – and the rest of the band – are with their new success. “We did this all off of our own back.”
So what is it about this band that has grabbed the nation’s attention? “Most boybands have very similar sounds,” explains Nathan. “We wanted to make ours different – not just from other groups, but each song unique too.” And combine that great music style with humble backgrounds and a down-to-earth approach and you can immediately see why people adore them.
It was last autumn that auditions began for this new band. Colin Barlow, President of Geffen Records [the man responsible for Take That’s spectacular comeback] was looking for five talented young lads who could create a huge buzz and shake up the charts. Together with the rest of his team they found the best men for the job – and they each have their own success stories to tell.
“Something or someone was looking out for me that day,” grins Bolton boy Tom (who insists his guitar is like his “best friend”). “I used to be in a choir and enjoyed singing. My mate took me to this – my first audition – and I got in!”
Whereas, Nathan (the youngest and the “cute one in the band” according to Tom) studied at the infamous Sylvia Young School and believes he was made to be on stage. “Singing is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do – well that and being a footballer, but I was rubbish at that! But when I’m on stage, I feel really confident and comfortable.”
And then there’s Max – known as the cheeky one and according to Nathan (and many fans), “the heartthrob”. Max had already been a part of a band called Avenue and had made it to the Boot Camp stage of The X Factor. “I’ve wanted to be in a group for ages and I was only 16 when Avenue were on TV. From then on, I knew I wanted to sing.”
“I didn’t tell my family that I was going to this audition,” smiles a thoughtful Jay. His considerate nature comes through instantly – and it’s clear this chance to succeed means a lot to him. “I’d already been to a few auditions and I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Now they all know, they are really proud and just want me to be happy, safe and sorted.”
Finally, there’s Dublin-born Siva. A handsome model, whose twin brother actually auditioned for the band first but it was his modelling portfolio and cracking vocals that grabbed management’s attention. “Jay and I were the last two to get into the band,” he recalls. “They called up and asked me to audition. Now look at us – all good mates and living together.”
In less than a year, the boys have become closer than ever, have created their debut album and bagged themselves a number one single. “All Time Low was our baby and it did so well,” exclaims Jay. “Now I want everyone to hear what we’ve been working on since last December. I’m just so proud of it.”
And it was this obvious passion and determination that produced their self titled album, a 13 track CD. The boys began recording the album last December in London. They travelled to Copenhagen and Sweden to complete their work. “We’ve been really creative,” says Jay. “There’s a bit of rock, a dab of dance, some Indie, a little bit of R&B and some openly poppy pop.” There’s something for everyone. And it’s not just teen girls who will enjoy the lads’ music, the press have been behind The Wanted since they hit the radio playlists back in June, predicting big success for the boys. So far, so good.
But don’t just assume that this will be an album full of regular pop songs. The entire Wanted team have worked hard to make it different. So what has influenced this mix of new sounds? “This album comes from the heart from all of us,” explains Siva. We wanted heavy beats and ballads; edginess and pop; addictive and mellow. We’ve brought our own musical influences in – our favourite artists have helped us make this album.”
“I’m a huge Oasis and Stereophonics fan,” asserts Tom. “That’s why I love slightly rockier vibes on the tracks such as Say It On The Radio and the American vibes on Replace Your Heart.” Siva continues, “Max is a huge Elvis fan, so he’s brought a bit of that grandeur into it and Jay’s Indie favourites have been a huge part of us finding our own sound too.”
But it’s not just influences that have helped make this a fantastic album. A whole host of top music professionals signed up to work on it too. In fact Songwriter/Producer Guy Chambers (Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue) worked on a few songs – and he loved The Wanted so much that he has invited them to perform at his next high-profile bash.
“Working with Guy has been an absolute privilege,” beams Nathan. “He usually has some amazing acts playing at his parties, so being asked is such an honour”.
On top of that, the lads have welcomed the likes of Taio Cruz (who co-wrote Made), Cathy Dennis (who penned Replace Your Heart) and top writers and producer, Wayne Hector (JLS, Nadine Coyle) and Steve Mac (Westlife, Leona Lewis) to help them with their debut.
“We also became good friends Chris Young who produced Behind Bars,” adds Nathan. It’s a strong rock-pop track with an unmissable string intro, which all five band members have written themselves. “This one is a special one for us,” remarks Nathan proudly. “Chris did some great work on the backing and we have sole writing credits.”
“We really hope people love the album as much as we do,” muses Max. He might be the cheeky one but his soft side comes out when asked which track is his personal favourite. “It has to be Golden,” he replies. It’s got a lot of piano in there and the lyrics are all about the ups and downs of life and relationships.” He adds quietly, “I seem a bit soppy, don’t I?”
Jay, who prides himself as the dancer of the group, has something altogether different at the top of his list. “Say It On The Radio is the most dancey track,” he grins. “It’s proper funk, I love it.”
Tom, however, doesn’t need to think twice about his first choice. Let’s Get Ugly – as it’s “quite naughty in a subtle way,” he beams. So, Max isn’t the only cheeky one in the band then.
The fact is these fantastic boys are going to have a very busy year ahead. “I remember seeing stars out and about as a child and I’d go home and tell everyone who I’d seen,” tells a thoughtful Jay. “Now people do that when they see us. It’s incredible.”
And there’s no doubt The Wanted are in huge demand already – but they haven’t forgotten what got them here in the first place.
“It’s about our fans and our music,” explains Siva, diplomatically. We’re making a mark with our music and our fans are genuine, honest and it’s unbelievable, some of them even shake when they meet us. The fans mean so much.”
“The parties and the free drinks are also pretty good,” laughs Max. “But the buzz when you walk out on stage is different to anything you could imagine”.
“I just can’t believe this is happening to us,” considers Jay.
While Tom continues, “The fact is we’re just five normal lads who have been picked out of a regular background. We’re so lucky, it’s ridiculous.”
“It’s amazing. And our music will show off a whole different side to us,” finalises Nathan. “Oh and you know the warbling at the end of the tracks? That’s me. I’m good at that bit. Have a listen!”