A Very Entertaining Chat With The Hoosiers...
See these men with their cartoon friends? That's right, it's like someone took that band the Hoosiers, and put their wigs in a hot wash (and Alfonso's moustache got lost, like a spare sock). But don't hold that against them, for it IS the Hoosiers and they are back with a new song called 'Choices'. It's a bit of a brave departure for the band, but good with it.
Now, having been a hit band, and then gone away for a bit, they must surely have interesting things to say about this fame business: what it is like on the way up, what it is like when you arrive, and what it is like when you're not in the public eye every day, after you have been used to that kind of attention. I made it my business to find out more.
As it turns out, the Hoosiers have interesting things to say about pretty much any topic you care to lob their way. Read on and see!
You join us in the middle of scene of introductions and general bonhomie. The band have played a concert the night before.
ChartBlog: How are you all?
Irwin: We're good. How're you doing?
ChartBlog: Very well, thank you. Are you all tired out from ROCKING?
Irwin: [whiny rockstar voice] Yeah mate, y'know, it was ridiculous at points. There were dwarves and urine everywhere...
ChartBlog: So what you're saying is you wet yourself?
Irwin: Pretty much! [band laughing] I'm taking a battering here! I'm just going to sit the next couple of questions out. Over to you boys!
ChartBlog: Well I mainly want to ask you for a little guide to what it is like when your first album takes off, seeing as you are people who know. What are the highs, the lows, the other highs..?
Alfonso: [coyly] Well, the highs are....not what you might think. We've all been celibate, cos we're so focussed on the music.
ChartBlog: Yeah, you're driven. It's all about The Music with you guys...
Irwin: It's like professional footballers, no sex, no chocolate.
ChartBlog: So what I want is perks and flaws. What happened when you first became well-known which was brilliant, and what was surprisingly bad?
Martin: I think one of the fun things is to see how quickly you can get a name for yourself, and how quickly they forget. Cos we've been away for quite some time now and really quickly people forget who we are.
Alfonso: Yeah I have to go up to people and put on a fake moustache, and explain who I was, sing 'em the songs and go "yeah, you remember!". And that's just at family functions.
Irwin: I was gonna say similar. It's like the best thing is people notice you, and the worst thing quickly becomes that people notice you.
ChartBlog: And it'd be worse for you because you're the singer...
Irwin: But that's why Sony corps made me the smallest, so that I'd attract least attention when I'm onstage, which is very thoughtful.
ChartBlog: It's nice that there's a pocket-sized one. You're your own fully-poseable action figure.
Irwin: Oh we cater for everyone. A tall one, a Johnny Average, a little fella...it's all kicking off here.
ChartBlog: Are you the type of people who are naturally cool when meeting other famous people? Is it a bit like Twitter, where you think you're about 1,000 followers famous, and then you meet someone who's 200,000 followers famous, and you get enormously awed?
Alfonso: Yeah, absolutely. But you've underestimated. We're 3,000 followers famous. Never downsell us again.
Irwin: And we fought for all of those people. We sent out personal invites and everything. I think a lot of the time I hate myself for being so easily starstruck. Literally, like, Big Brother ex-contestants and I'm gushing. Actually, I don't know who they are, but it's ridiculous. Some people when they meet you, even after you've been on telly, are like "Oh wow! Can I have a photo with you?", and it's always quite humbling. You know what an idiot you are still, and yet someone wants a photo with you. That must be the same however big you are. And yet when you meet someone like that, I'm still annoyed cos my knees shake and I sweat...
ChartBlog: I did that once with David Quantick, who writes for Harry Hill and loads of music magazines. He was backstage at Top of the Pops and I wanted to say hello, but I got all starstruck. Didn't go well...
[Entire band make aww-ing noises]
Irwin: Was he quite nice?
ChartBlog: He was perfectly fine. But he looked confused as to why this small-talk wasn't really working.
Irwin: Yeah, he can't have been expecting it. He'd have been wondering "who is this inept moron?"
ChartBlog: I walked away more crestfallen than I've ever been, because obviously what I wanted him to say was "hey we should hang out!"
Irwin: ..and you're like "I hope this doesn't come across as weird but CAN WE BE BEST FRIENDS?"
ChartBlog: [sadly] We're not best friends now.
Irwin: I can sort of top that with when I met Steve Coogan, after the Fast Show Live. I was following him out, and I thought "I've GOT to say something. I'VE GOT TO SAY SOMETHING", and now I've found out that I HAVEN'T got to say something. All I could think of was "excuse me, THANKS FOR ALAN!", and he went "that's alright" and looked at me like I was something he'd trodden in. And I went "can I shake your hand?" and he went [sighs] "yeah, go on then". I learned a valuable lesson that day.
ChartBlog: Now, have you managed to rub your success in an enemy's face yet?
Alfonso: I don't know. I don't think I have. I want to have. I wish I had an answer to that, cos I'd love to. Maybe I'm gonna set out to do that now.
ChartBlog: Surely one of your schools will have been in touch?
Alfonso: They did actually! My school asked me to go and do a presentation for the A-level students. They asked me if I'd do a little talk. But I was too expensive for them. They weren't even going to pay me as much as the weather-girl that presented MY A-level year.
ChartBlog: Oh COME ON! You're a Hoosier!
Alfonso: I know! They said they'd pay my taxi fare home. Unbelievable.
ChartBlog: But only as far as your mum and dad's house...
ChartBlog: When you're a hit band, it must be tempting to try and keep up with the prevailing trends in order to maximise your hit-making potential. Did you worry that you might have to become an amalgam of David Guetta, Mumford and Sons and Pixie Lott?
Irwin: Not really, we just did it. Fancy that! No, we wanted to change the sound on this album just because it would be so boring to come back to the same thing for us, let alone anyone hearing it. Being a pop band...pop is very progressive and it does change and you need to change with it or you'll get left behind.
ChartBlog: I like that you said pop is progressive. People don't often say that.
Irwin: Well even three years ago when we first came out there were a lot more guitar bands making pop, that was what was getting played. Now it's gone more feminine and electro. For us, we tried a few things, it's not like we just ended up here. We tried about two other directions that just fell down, which is why it's taken us so long. We still wanted to sound like a band, but with that acoustic and electronic element. It took us quite a while to get the balance right.
ChartBlog: Be honest, was one of those directions hip hop?
Irwin: Big time!
Alfonso: Snoop Dogg is on the record.
Irwin: And John Barnes.
ChartBlog: You don't even have to ASK Snoop Dogg. Surely all you need is a studio, a microphone and an open door and BOOM! He's there.
Irwin: I think it was harder not to have Snoop Dogg on the album. Somehow we managed it.
ChartBlog: Is there any pressure for you all to make yourselves more sexy?
Irwin: [laughing] It's not possible!
Alfonso: I would say the opposite is true. With my image on the first album, the big moustache and silly hair...I mean I'm really sexy now. I just had to hide it for the first album.
ChartBlog: Do people ask what happened to the guy with the moustache?
Alfonso: Yeah. I just say he died.
Irwin: And out of the ashes...
Alfonso: Came a beautiful model-esque ginger...
ChartBlog: Ginger Phoenix! You know there's a concept album in this.
Irwin: [to Alfonso] That can be like your bad-guy other name. Y'know like Beyonce has Sasha Fierce, you can be like "I AM...THE GINGER PHOENIX!".
Alfonso: Somebody shouted at me at the gig last night. I didn't hear it but somebody said "you smell like fox wee!" Irwin said we'd been a bit rusty, and I suggested that this might be a take on my ginger hair. Then someone shouted out about fox wee.
Irwin: That is bizarre. I applaud that. That's good. I'm proud to have an audience of people that can come up with that. That's a hell of a heckle.
Alfonso: It is. I had no comeback.
ChartBlog: I'm going to let you go now. This is all I need in order to help you promote your new music.
Irwin: Thanks very much, this has been a pleasure.