Last week Lucy Craymer was lucky enough to steal a quick interview with leading pop band Union J, ahead of their performance at the blinkbox UK LIVE Summer Weekender in Chantry Park, Ipswich, 28th – 29th June (www.uklive.co.uk).
Lucy spoke to band member JJ whilst he was having a very rare day off, chilling at home. They spoke over the phone, sadly it wasn’t possible for our Lucy to pop round to his to do a face to face interview, but we are sure that if she had, master JJ Hamblett would have been incredibly hospitable! He sounded lovely, incredibly warm friendly and easy to chat to, as they discussed monkeys, used boxer shorts, and his favourite meal. Here’s what happened:
How was your experience on the X Factor? And can you describe it in 3 words?
It was actually incredible, it really was a once in a lifetime opportunity, really amazing. We come from four normal backgrounds, and all of a sudden we were put onto one of the biggest TV shows in the world and it’s just been a crazy journey! A massive rollercoaster ride, just simply incredible. I would describe it as AMAZING, (I’m sorry I tend to use that word about 20 times a day!) BRILLIANT and MINDBLOWING!
It sure must have been an incredibly exciting rollercoaster ride for you all in the last couple of years..tell me how are you coping with your new found fame, and what do you do to relax and escape from it all?
Well, I’m having a bit of escapism at the moment, just lying in bed and watching TV. That’s what I do! And also what we try to do is see our families as much as we can, as that really helps to keep our feet firmly on the ground and helps bring you back to reality. I personally play golf a lot when I can, and obviously we have such a hectic lifestyle right now, so it is important to try and keep our heads screwed on.
That’s very good to hear. You performed in Ipswich back in January, and you’re due here again in June as part of the East Coast Live weekend, alongside some other mega pop stars. Who are you looking forward to performing alongside the most?
Obviously Jessie J is headlining and she’s amazing, absolutely incredible! All the guys, Rizzle Kicks, the Saturdays, Jason Derulo, you know, i’s an amazing line up, and we saw a lot of them last year doing summer gigs, so we tend only to see them at events and stuff like that, as they’re really busy like us, so it’s always nice to see them at shows like this. It’s brilliant to hang out with a great bunch of people and amazing artists!
I’ve been asked to tell you that at your last Ipswich gig, when George kicked an inflatable monkey off the stage, it was caught by Kyra, the daughter of the owner of Grapevine Magazine, who is a huge fan of yours, and the monkey is a truly prized possession, which is still inflated and lives by her bed.
Oh Really, how weird is that! I do remember that happening! How cool is that! Glad the monkey was caught by such a big fan! That’s amazing.
Yes indeed- she truly is one of your biggest! Which brings me onto my next question..
What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever given you?
Hmmm, when we were on stage at one point, someone gave me a pair of boxer shorts! They had bananas and monkeys all over them..I think they might have been worn ones as well..!
ooh that’s pretty disgusting! So George would have appreciated them then with the monkeys on them? I hear he’s a big monkey fan?
George does, yes, he loves Monkeys! I’d really like a pet monkey, and actually my son has a little toy monkey from me, which I had when I was born. It’s his favourite toy.
Aww that’s so cute. What’s his name?
Princeton. Yeah he’s a beaut!
I bet he’ll be stylish like his parents! Do you generally choose your own clothes, or do you have a stylist who picks them out for you?
We have an amazing stylist called Nicky who absolutely helps us with our dress, it’s always good to have her by our side, we’re very lucky to have her on board!
I see. How lovely! So when are you planning to release your next single and album?
We literally are starting on the second album now, but we’re hoping to release our next single soon, we know what it’s going to be so that’s exciting. We’ve actually done a lot of writing ourselves, you know the first album we didn’t really have that much of an input, we were happy with the album, but having not had much of an input into it, basically all the songs were already done for us, when we came off the X factor, so this time we’re glad to have had a bit more of an input, and we’re hoping to release it soon.
Fab. Ok here’s a question submitted by your biggest fan, (the one with the inflatable monkey!) Would you consider releasing your own brand of perfume and if so what would it be called?
Ooh now there’s a question…yes we would…[pauses]
I can tell from your hesitation you like the idea..maybe there’s already plans in the pipeline..?
Yeah! There maybe are plans…
Ok, intriguing. Sounds secretative. We’ll have to watch this space…now if you don’t mind I’m going to ask you our traditional Grapevine Quirky Questions!
GRAPEVINE QUIRKY QUESTIONS! (drum roll)
Building Snowmen or Sandcastles?
Name an animal beginning with G?
Blondes or Brunettes?
Dogs or Cats?
What’s your favourite word?
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
I would be invisible.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever put between 2 slices of bread?
It’s not actually that weird, but salt and vinegar crisps!
If you were going to have your absolute favourite meal, what would you pick for starter, main and dessert?
Hmm, my starter would be deep fried camembert with cranberry sauce. My main would be, really random, but sausage chips n’ beans…and my desert would be New York Cheesecake.
Good choices! So to wrap up JJ, have you got any wise words that you can impart to the readers of Grapevine Magazine, who are perhaps amateur musicians, trying to break into the music industry in a big way?
Yeah, looking back, I guess i’d say just never give up on your dream! You have to really want it and work hard, like, we had to work really hard for years before we found ourselves on the X factor, it didn’t just happen overnight and we went through various stages and overcame various hurdles before we got to where we are today. But like I say, just never give up on your dream..and if you work hard you’ll 100% get what you deserve.
Brilliant words of wisdom there, thanks JJ. So I’ve been asked to ask you, is ‘Smile’ going to feature on the new album?
Urm, no I’m not actually familiar with that song?
Errrr, I think it might be something to do with George?
Well, I’ve not heard it, but you never know, hang on we might now go off and write a song called Smile, and get it onto the album….
Well that would be great- then I’d know it came from this conversation!
Yeah…watch this space!
Ha ha. I think that’s all of my questions for now, but obviously we’re looking forward to seeing you in Ipswich in June as part of the UK Live weekend…
Yeah well Ipswich is quite local to me so I’m looking forward to coming back down that way.
Oh brilliant, where do you hang out when you’re in the Ipswich area then?
Well I’m not from Ipswich, I’m from Newmarket, so I know the area around Norwich and Ipswich too pretty well..
A good East Anglian Boy then! That’s what we like to hear!
Yeah, I’m looking forward to visiting the area again as don’t often get the chance.. I’m really excited to be performing for people in Ipswich again.
Will you get a chance to relax in the area whilst down this way?
Hmm sadly not really, there’s always lots of interviews to be done, and then we’re warming up, and then we’re on stage, and then as soon as we’re off stage, we’re in the car and we’re gone, so there’s never any time to relax! But really looking forward to doing the summer gigs, it’s going to be so cool!
Excellent. Well thanks so much for talking to us JJ. Give our regards to the rest of the boys! I’ll send you a tweet now and again..
Brilliant. I’ll RT you! Take care, see you in Ipswich!
A stellar line-up of music stars are promising fans an event to remember. Some of the biggest names in pop will come together for the one day festival in each of the cities for blinkbox North East Live, East Coast Live and South West Live.
The event will be headlined by Jessie J, and will be joined by Rizzle Kicks and top girl band The Saturdays. Teen heartthrobs The Vamps who have propelled up the charts plus Union J and US hip hop artist Jason Derulo will join the UK stars for what will be his only outdoor UK tour dates for 2014.
The family-friendly music extravaganza is designed to suit music fans of all ages, with tickets priced from just £25.