Boyband JLS prepare to switch on Christmas lights in Bristol
X Factor finalists JLS tell Liz Webster they can't wait to get in the Christmas mood and switch on Bristol's lights.
FOUR years ago, Marvin Humes, Aston Merrygold, JB Gill and Oritsé Williams shot to fame after making it through to the X Factor finals. Now, with four MOBO awards and five UK number one singles under their belt, JLS have the enviable task of turning on Christmas lights in Bristol.
It seems a bit premature to be talking about Christmas lights switch-ons before we're in November but when Marvin calls me for our chat he seems keen on starting the celebrations early.
He says: "I love Christmas and I think the earlier you get into the festive spirit the better. We've not done that many Christmas light switch-ons since we formed JLS so it is pretty special to be invited for this – we're looking forward to it. Bristol has been incredible for us in the past – we've done a few shows there and some signings and we always enjoy coming."
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An estimated 10,000 fans are expected to descend on The Mall at Cribbs Causeway where the boys will perform their new single Hottest Girl in the World – the lead single from their fourth album Evolution.
Marvin said: "We started writing the album about a year ago – we try to release something every year. We're lucky that there are four of us so we are never short on inspiration or material. We ended up with about 80 songs."
Evolution, as the title suggests, documents a growth for the boys as they mature both personally and musically. The album sees JLS move in a more urban direction, working with a stellar list of American urban producers including hip hop producers The Runners and Midi Mafia to legendary R&B hit-maker Rodney Jerkins.
Hottest Girl In The World, the lead track, is a sleek, modern club song and takes the group out of pop territory.
"It's important to evolve, no pun intended, but we wanted to come up with something fresh," Marvin says. "People know us from the X Factor, which is nearly five years ago, so fans that watched us then, when they were 15 years old, are now 20.
"All artists have to make a conscious decision to make changes, whether that's with their styling, their record company or whether they just want to move with the times. We want to keep things fresh. We're a pop band and working with hip hop producers helped us to blend the sounds into something really new and fresh."
"We've been waiting to take this chance to make a more urban sound," Aston says.
"We're tackling more mature subjects, we wanted to speak for the guys as well as serenading the girls. And it was a completely different experience writing the album in America," Marvin adds.
"They've got a different work ethic over there, we had to change up everything we know and how we've recorded before. There was no such thing as schedules. We didn't leave the studio till the job was done."
But having firmly got in the zone, they recorded over 80 tracks before deciding on the final cut for the album.
"I've always been a pop-R&B-swag singer," Oritsé laughs.
"But on this album I really wanted to bring some more of my personality out... I wanted to bring some attitude to the table."
JLS, an initialism of Jack the Lad Swing, has been one of the most successful bands ever to come out of the X Factor, selling more than six million records, and becoming the first act from the reality show to win two prizes at the Brit Awards for British Breakthrough and Best British Single.
Marvin says: "We do still have those moments when you pinch yourself to believe it's really happening but you get used to the lifestyle. I think when we go back to our roots and hang out with friends and stuff we really appreciate everything.
"We've been watching this series of the X Factor – James, Jahmene and Ella are all in our top three. In particular I like Jahmene. You do have a different view of it once you've been in the show and you know how it all works."
The Christmas lights switch on and concert will take place at 6pm on Thursday, November 8 and is expected to raise £20,000 for Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal – the Bristol Children's Hospital Charity.