| 7.6°C Dublin

JLS: 'Being mobbed by girl fans is tough work'

It must be tough being in a boy band. Especially one that just so happens to be popular. Very, very popular.

Think about it -- imagine having to put up with all that VIP treatment and fame. And let's not forget about the female attention either.

That's why I genuinely feel sorry for JLS.

Currently riding high aboard their new-found status as Britain and Ireland's favourite pop foursome, the group have had to put up with so much hassle over the last year -- namely, a legion of screaming, hormonal, and unbelievably hysterical teenage girls, most of whom generally get their knickers in a twist over the sight of Aston Merrygold's remarkably toned abs (PS, I've recently been informed that he is, in fact, the "cutest" one).

"Yes," smiles Aston, sitting in front of me today, the giant headphones around his neck a definite sign of his, ahem, undeniable coolness.

"It's tough being mobbed by loads of girls." I knew it.

On a serious note, however, the phenomenal rise and success of JLS has astounded every harsh critic who might have been a little too quick to write them off as just another X Factor runner-up destined for a summer's worth of headline appearances at children's holiday camps.

Sure, coming in at second place to the truly awful warbling of Alexandra Burke in December 2008 might have been a kick in the teeth at the time, but it was clear from the beginning that these four lads from London and Peterborough had lit a spark under a genre that, save for everybody's favourite comeback kings, hasn't exactly been in the best of shape these past few years.

Fast-forward 13 months and the lives of Aston, Oritse, Marvin and JB have been some-what altered.

Two number one singles, a number one album (which, at last count, was close to selling a million copies) a couple of MOBO awards, and a forthcoming arena tour -- not bad for second place, eh?

It's no surprise, then, that the guys -- all in their early 20s -- look at their defeat on one of the biggest TV shows of all time, as a "blessing in disguise".

"When our name wasn't called by Dermot in the final, we all went 'it's over, this is the outcome, so we now have to step up again and just try our hardest to make a career out of this,'" explains Aston.

"Obviously, we've had them nights, you know, where we've been thinking 'oh, what would have happened if it was this way or that way', but we wouldn't change anything for the world.

"It's the most surreal year that I've ever had in my whole life," agrees Oritse Williams, the group's founding member (that's right, folks, these guys are not the manufactured bunch you might have thought they were).

"The hysteria around the band -- I just feel so proud of the boys, and it's like all of our dreams have come true in one moment."

Long before stepping in front of Louis, Simon, Cheryl and Dannii, Oritse set out to assemble what he called a "supergroup" and he began staging a few auditions of his own.

"I'm very proud of the fact that we're a boy band. I think every boy kind of wants to be in a boy band, so, you know, for us, we're not ashamed of that," he says, responding to a question about how he views JLS (Jack The Lad Swing, in case you were wondering).

"When I first started thinking about putting the band together," he continues, "I was hoping that at least we would try to figure out how to get recognised by a major label somehow. I wasn't expecting to have a number one. I wasn't expecting to have two tours in the next year. Sometimes I have to pinch myself every day because I just actually can't believe everything that's happening -- it's so weird.

"We're just four guys, trying to live a dream. Best mates, having a great time and, you know, we honestly feel like the luckiest guys in this country right now."

Indeed, as mentioned above, their R&B sprinkled pop has gone down a hit with the young listening public.

Cheesy yet catchy, it isn't difficult to understand the massive appeal of Beat Again or Everybody In Love ... even if they do boast some of the worst lyrics ever strung together for the sake of a pop record.

Still, it comes as a welcome surprise to hear that the lads co-write their own songs, too.

"It's something that we pride ourselves on," says Oritse.

"Especially JB, he wouldn't allow us not to write."

And, while the first record may have only hit CD shelves last November, the group already have their sights set on album number two.

"We're not playing, Chris. We're on it!" they laugh, adding that this year is going to be even bigger.

So, how's the celebrity lifestyle working out, then?

"It's so weird," they reply.

"I never actually see myself as a celebrity, but even the boys have had to tell me 'Oritse, you gotta realise that your life is not gonna be the same as before'.

"And it's been hard for me to kind of ... I don't know, adapt to that idea, because I just feel like a standard guy still, just trying to work hard and do what I love."

Time's almost up -- what about this support slot with Westlife next summer at Croke Park. That's over 80,000 people. Better brace yourselves for that one, guys.

"It's gonna be a big one, definitely," says Oritse, describing how, the last time they played here, the fans "stopped traffic" and knocked over security guards in a frantic bid to say hello.

"Irish fans are very enthusiastic and they're really up for it. They're hysterical and they're lovely and they support us so much.

"We just want everyone to have a fantastic time," he finishes, "and we want to give them an exciting and electric performance that they won't forget.

"So, for us, we love the madness. Bring on the madness ... "

The group's self-titled debut album is out now.

JLS play The O2 on Saturday February 27


Privacy