Shayne Ward chats with Kevin Cooper about winning The X Factor, how he would love to perform with Take That, the release of his latest album and his forthcoming tour in Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War Of The Worlds.
Shayne Ward is an English pop singer, who rose to fame as the winner of the second series of The X Factor. His debut single, That’s My Goal, was released in the UK on 21 December 2005 and it sold 313,000 copies on its first day of sales, making it the third fastest-selling single of all time behind Elton John’s Candle in the Wind and Will Young’s Evergreen.
In June 2011 it was announced that Ward would be staring as Stacee Jaxx in the 80’s themed musical, Rock of Ages. For this role he received a nomination for The Dewynters London Newcomer of the Year from the 2012 What’s On Stage Awards.
In January 2013, he became one of twelve celebrities to participate in the eighth series of Dancing On Ice, and got to stay until being eliminated in the fifth round.
More recently, after auditioning in front of musician Jeff Wayne, Ward secured the role of The Artilleryman in Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War Of The Worlds, which tours for the sixth and final time.
Taking time out from his busy rehearsal schedule to chat with Kevin Cooper, this is what he had to say.
Shayne, good morning.
How are you doing Kevin?
I’m good thanks how are you?
Yes I’m good thank you mate, not too bad at all.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
Not at all mate, it’s my pleasure.
How is life treating you?
It’s pretty good to be honest Kevin. Things are starting to get busy again now which is good. I’ve got a few busy months ahead of me with The War Of The Worlds and with my new album being released in February, so it’s all pretty cool. I’m getting myself back out there and trying to get myself noticed once again in the music industry.
On the subject of The War Of The Worlds, you are to play the Artilleryman, Joseph Whelan as The Voice of Humanity. How did you get the part, did you have to audition?
Oh god yes, I was treated just like everybody else. The audition came through and I just remembered the original film although I never realised that it was a stage show. I went along and auditioned just like everybody else. I had to go along to Jeff Wayne’s mansion (laughter) and it was incredible. I just walked in and performed the acting piece and then the singing and fortunately he liked me.
Without trying to frighten you, you have got some pretty big shoes to fill haven’t you; following in the footsteps of the likes of Jason Donavan who has previously played the part.
Yes Jason played the part previously, and before me was Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs, so it’s been pretty cool. It is the very last time that the show is going to be on the road, so I will try to stay true to how the character has been portrayed over the years, whilst giving the role some of my own personality as well. It should be a lot of fun but I will be asking Jason for a few tips (laughter).
Going back even further, when the original album was released you were only 6 years old.
(Hysterical laughter) thanks Kevin, I feel quite old now (laughter).
And of course David Essex originally played the part on the album.
He did yes. It’s crazy for me to think that I will be following in the footsteps of such people as David Essex, Jason Donovan and Ricky Wilson and that I will be the very last person ever to play the part. You are right that they are big shoes to fill but I am sure that I can do it.
Knowing that you will be the very last person to play the part, does that bring with it any added pressure?
No not at all Kevin. It brings a kind of joy to the part. It will go down in the history of that show that I was the very last person to play the Artilleryman. Whilst we are all saddened that the show is coming to an end, we are happy that people will be able to see it for the very last time. Regardless of whoever was playing the part, I don’t think that you should dwell on the past and who has previously played him, you should simply enjoy the performance and accept whoever is playing him now.
Whilst on the subject of acting, did you enjoy playing rocker Stacee Jaxx in Rock Of Ages?
Yes Kevin, that was a great time for me, to be playing a rock star, getting drunk every day and having women draped all over you (laughter). I think that anyone would love that job in the West End to be honest (laughter).
Is musical theatre something that you could see yourself doing on a regular basis?
If the part of the character which they wanted me to go for excited me, then yes Kevin, without a doubt. Playing Stacee Jaxx certainly excited me in the West End and the part of the Artilleryman, Joseph Whelan in The War Of The Worlds has definitely excited me. I have always made my management aware that if a role came along which I was excited about and I found it to be a challenge and something that I could throw myself into, then yes, I would definitely be up for it.
You have briefly mentioned the new album, how is the recording going?
It’s going really well, working with Mike Stock is just incredible. When you think of all of the hits that he has had from the 1980’s onwards, he is an absolute icon and legend within the producing world. He is really easy to work with; he has no ego. He knows that he is good at what he does and working in the studio with him has been an absolute breeze Kevin. I really can’t complain to be honest, it’s been an absolute joy. I feel that it has been a great experience and a great collaboration for me.
And how was it working alongside PledgeMusic. Has that gone ok?
It has been brilliant as there is a lot more fan interaction which is what I have always been about. PledgeMusic offer the fans opportunities which they wouldn’t normally get. I recently did a photo shoot and a lot of the fans were able to come down and meet me, which was great because I like to get them involved as much as possible. That is the one thing that I pride myself upon in this job, I keep myself in contact with the fans 100% of the time and I have really enjoyed that over the years. So for me to be able to bring them into my world a little bit and to take them behind the scenes through PledgeMusic has been a great decision made.
Can you tell me anything about the album at this time or is it still a secret?
(Laughter) it’s not a secret as such Kevin but obviously it’s definitely all about finding my soul and pop voice with Mike’s soul and pop history. We are both trying to find exactly what that path is for me to follow and that is definitely soul and pop. What I can tell you is that there will be no surprises, it will be me getting back to basics, with us both doing exactly what we love to do. It’s pretty cool; I go back down there shortly to record more songs for the new album, and we are still both deep into it.
Do you have a title as yet?
Not at the minute but hopefully when I go down there I will be able to hear everything back and then decide what the title of the album will be.
And I assume that you will be touring the album in the New Year?
Oh yes Kevin, absolutely. Even before the release of the album in February, once we have decided what the first single is going to be, we will put it out there. Then we will sit down and have talks about promoting the album, and when and where we will want to put a show on. I am really excited about that for both the fans and myself.
You will keep Nottingham in mind won’t you?
Oh god yes, try and stop me (laughter).
Was it always going to be a career in music for you?
Definitely yes, although I probably wouldn’t have put myself into the professional world if I hadn’t have been pushed into it by my sister and my partner at the time (laughter). I can’t thank them enough for that Kevin. I was doing the Working Men’s Clubs at the time and I was quite happy doing that. I had done that for six years so I think that music was always going to play a major part in whatever I chose to do in life.
You mention the Working Men’s Clubs, but they have nearly all gone now. There is nowhere for young artists to learn their trade anymore which is a sad situation that we find ourselves in.
You are right Kevin, it is a really sad situation that there is nowhere for youngsters to learn the trade. Normally everything goes full circle and things come back and I really hope that people realise that these Working Men’s Clubs need to be opened again. People need to be able to get back onto the stage. It is really sad that all that is left are bars now.
When I speak to the older artists they always remember fondly the days of rattling up and down the motorway in a transit van, learning their trade in those clubs.
Absolutely Kevin, I still remember going into them where I would perform the first act and then you would play bingo (laughter). You would have someone walking around selling cockles and muscles. I really do miss those days (laughter).
Who has inspired you?
Being bought up in Ireland that would have to be Foster and Allen together with The Dubliners. But then I think about the cross-over artists such as Tom Jones, The Bee Gees, The Stylistics, Elvis Presley, those type of voices. These were the type of artists that were always being played in our house and who I was brought up listening to, and so they would have to be my inspirations in music.
You mention Foster and Allen, how did you come to do guest vocals for them on Galway Girl?
That was a great experience Kevin. We recorded a cover of a track called Galway Girl and released it, and it always gets played every Paddy’s Day which was our intention (laughter). Those guys are great idols of mine, especially having the Irish connection that I have. It was an unbelievable experience. I keep in contact with Tony (Allen) and Mick (Foster); they are such lovely guys.
Now I couldn’t possibly speak to you without mentioning ‘that programme’ could I?
(Hysterical laughter) Ok Kevin, go for it.
Would you say that winning the X Factor has been the highlight of your career so far?
Well I guess that there have been a lot more highlights since then, for example landing one of the lead roles in the West End, but without the X Factor would those opportunities have come along for me, I don’t know. So I suppose that I would have to say that it has to be one of the highlights so far.
How did it feel when your contract with Syco came to an end after six years?
To be honest Kevin when that was released into the public eye, it seemed worse than it actually was. The press reported that I had been dropped by Syco but that simply wasn’t the case. I had signed a three album deal with them which I completed and I had always been aware that they were not going to exercise another deal with me. So I had come to terms with it and I wasn’t bitter as was reported in the press. It was a platform for me and I used the experience of working with Syco, to put into my next venture. It was a job and such is life that you do move on from one job to another. Of course it was a big thing because I was leaving a record label, but it wasn’t the end of the world (laughter). That was something that I learnt to deal with straight away.
You recently took part in Dancing On Ice, do you still skate?
I wish that I did Kevin (laughter). The skates are busy gathering dust (laughter).
You suffered from a nodule on your left vocal chord, is all ok now?
Oh god yes, absolutely. I found out that I had the problem pretty much straight after I won the show. I now look after my voice a hell of a lot more; keeping hydrated and especially when doing lots of shows. I don’t drink any alcohol now whatsoever. I try to keep myself in good shape when it comes to gigs and shows.
In 2006 Gary Barlow reportedly said that you may be the one to replace Jason Orange in Take That. With recent events will you be awaiting a phone call?
(Hysterical laughter) I remember that and it was crazy. My sound engineer at the time was reading a book whilst he was on the loo of all places, and he told me about that. What an amazing thing to be associated with; that when Take That reformed they were considering having me as part of it. It was unbelievable.
Is the door still open?
That’s down to them I guess. I think that you would be really silly if you gave up an opportunity to be in a band like Take That. It would be ridiculous wouldn’t it, so without a shadow of a doubt if they asked me even to just perform with them, I would jump at the chance.
Shayne, good luck with everything that you do. It has been a real pleasure chatting with you.
Cheers, thank you very much Kevin. I look forward to seeing you in Nottingham. You take care. Bye.