Nathan Carter: 'I find the 'heartthrob' label very surreal'
Country music star Nathan Carter is the eldest of three children, and grew up in Liverpool with his mum Noreen, a carer, and dad Ian, a builder. The 26-year-old now lives in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. In a short space of time he's gone from gigging in half-empty bars to playing in front of 25,000 fans at this year's St Patrick's Day Parade in London's Trafalgar Square. This week he will perform at the RTÉ Irish County Music Awards, where he's also nominated for four awards.
I never thought I'd be this successful. When I moved to Ireland, after I turned 17, and set up the band, we played 150 gigs a year for four or five years and, I've got to be honest, it wasn't that great. I lost a lot of money and some nights only 20 people would turn up. It was a bit disheartening but I had a bit of belief that we had to just keep going.
I try to listen to as much stuff as I can, from rock to current pop. My big love has always been country, I loved that sort of music from an early age, but I've also got ACDC on my iTunes.
[A man recently appeared in court charged with criminal damage and assault, claiming he 'snapped' after a neighbour repeatedly played Wagon Wheel on his stereo, something the defendant likened to 'psychological torture'.]
Everybody has their own tastes and if you don't 'get' country music, you don't get it. That's fine with me because fortunately there's plenty that do. I said the same after the incident with Wagon Wheel. Obviously not everybody likes that song, but fortunately there's enough that do, so that's good enough for me. You're never going to please everyone.
I'd need a good slap if I ever started demanding a special colour of M&Ms before a show. We have a rider but it's very, very simple: a towel, tea and biscuits and a few bottles of beer for after the show.
We have a 'no ladies allowed back on the bus' rule because there are 13 of us sleeping in a confined space! People probably imagine that I get a lot of female attention but it generally isn't that rock 'n' roll… on my scene anyway.
I definitely get offers, but when you're moving from town to town it's tricky to meet someone. I'm so engrossed in the music side of things it doesn't bother me at the minute - and I just turned 26 - but in the next few years I'll be looking to settle down a bit more.
Touring isn't conducive to family life and I think you've got to make sacrifices. I've seen through the years how hard it is, with different band members, to keep everyone happy - your wife, your children, your love of music and your pay packet - it's a very hard thing in this line of work.
When I go on stage, people are paying a lot of money, and I have to give them a show. But I don't think I'm like that off stage, I wouldn't be the life and soul of any party, I'm actually more shy.
I'm hoping that eventually I'll do less and just do bigger stuff. I did 170 shows last year and this year it's 150, but I couldn't be doing that for the next 20 years. My dream would be to get to play the 3 Arena in Dublin and the SSE Arena in Belfast in the next few years.
I don't know anyone who is happy with their body and I'm exactly the same. I find the 'heartthrob' label very surreal. I'm always thinking, 'God, I'm overweight, I need to get to the gym and stop eating crap' so when people turn round and say "he's good-looking", I think, 'Jesus, are you seeing the same thing I'm looking at?'.
There's a lot of jealousy on social media. I get quite a few mean tweets from people slagging off the music but I think people who write negative comments, not just at me but on general on social media, are jealous. I don't tweet them back. I'd love to be a James Blunt but I just think I wouldn't give them the satisfaction. They don't bother me that much so I'm not going to pretend they do.
Shows like X Factor and Britain's Got Talent are generally the only way into the music industry at the minute which is really, really sad. I never went that route - I would have been voted off in the first round for singing country songs - so they're not for me. If it gets your name out there then that's what you've got to do, but I stopped watching years ago, I just thought they were all getting the same.
I couldn't imagine living in a city. I grew up in Liverpool, outside the city, but now I live in Enniskillen and it's very different. It's very much a slower way of life and a lot friendlier. I was in London last week and no one in the street would say 'hello' to you. I've got a little boat here and go out on the lake whenever I can, it's a great way of relaxing away from the business end of things.
My Nan is my go-to person if I'm ever stuck. My mum and dad weren't too pleased when I said I was leaving school to be a singer, but my Nan was always the driving force. She came to every gig, sold CDs and tried to promote me and just get my name out there. She's 76 now so she was 66 when I was starting out. I was 16 and couldn't drive so she would drive me to pubs around the North West of England.
I'm thrilled and honoured to be nominated at the RTÉ Irish Country Music Awards. I think it's great the media have got behind the country music scene in the last couple of years. But what means the most to me is making people happy.
Nathan Carter is nominated for four awards and will perform at the RTÉ Irish Country Music Awards which will air on RTÉ One on Friday, June 24 at 9.35pm