Written By: Mark Armstrong
Following a successful reunion tour, coming off their original stint together in the mid-2000s, G4 are hitting the road again with their newest UK tour, which includes a performance at Parr Hall, Warrington on Thursday March 2. This comes alongside the release of their new album Love Songs, for which G4 held a special performance at HMV in Liverpool One. Beforehand, we spoke to the group about their next tour, their history together and an interesting fact which their fans may not be aware of …
First of all, tell us about your upcoming UK tour, beginning in March.
Jonathan Ansell: “It’s going to be fun! We love being on the road, it’s exciting to see so many great audiences around the UK and to live in close proximity on the tour bus is something that we love and hate at the same time!”
Ben Thapa: “You love it and I hate it! (Laughs)”
What inspired you to become singers, and what attracted you to the opera style?
Mike Christie: “A lot of us have sung since we were kids. I was a chorister from the age of 8-13, and we all ended up at music college. We were all inspired to train singing, and that’s where we met as a group. We formed originally as a barbershop quartet, and then it took off from there.”
How much of a life-changing experience was it when you applied for The X Factor in 2004, and did you ever envision the success that you would have on the show?
Ben: “It was definitely a massive, life-changing experience because I remember that we had a few weeks in between the filming of the auditions and when the first show was broadcast, so we had that time (to prepare), and I remember we sat in Mike’s flat with a curry, and I thought ‘this is the last time we’ll be able to sit around and have a curry.’ The next day after it went out, John with his massive blonde hair was getting recognised by everybody, saying ‘were you that guy from the telly last night?’ Everybody’s lives did change forever; The X Factor was an amazing TV vehicle to help us onto a journey that we’ve been on ever since. It’s been something that I don’t think we could have imagined when we first set foot in the college.”
You released a number of albums over the next few years including the self-titled G4, G4 and Friends and Act Three. Which songs stand out the most for you from those albums?
Jonathan: “I have to say that Bohemian Rhapsody is up there I think, as one of the biggest, more controversial but well-received releases that we put out initially in our careers. Then we went on to sing songs like Radiohead’s Creep in a very different way to the original, and it’s those moments that I think capture the imagination of the audience who realise that genres can be broken down. It’s actually just singing and entertainment, and it’s been exciting from that point on to just keep the variety going.”
How did you adapt to life on the road during the early years of your careers?
Jonathan: “Getting in the pub more, at the time I think! (Laughs) That’s how we adapted to it, it was a permanent haze!”
Ben: “It was fun, as we had a few more pennies to our names to spend in the bar, whereas when we were students, we were literally counting out our change, and sometimes we were lucky enough to have notes! (Laughs) So that was one good thing! But it was an amazing experience, and it just kind of passed us by in a rush sometimes. At the same time, there were other amazing experiences along the way that we remember and that we’ll treasure forever.”
G4 reunited in 2014, and would tour the UK again in 2015. Was it a thrill to get back together?
Jonathan: “It was mad. It was a really good experience to stand at the front of the stage and to not be able to sing for what felt like minutes while the audience were just screaming. It made us all realise that we really had to keep this going and to re-ignite our careers. It’s exciting to have Nick as our new boy in the group; Matt didn’t want to be part of that reunion, but it’s great to see how well Nick has been embraced by the audience and how much fun he’s having with it! So, it’s been a good team effort from then on.”
What can the Warrington audience expect from G4 on March 2?
Mike: “It’s very exciting as we’ve never been to Parr Hall before. We’ll be singing the songs from our Love Songs album, and also some of the hits from back in the day, like Bohemian Rhapsody as John mentioned, we’ve got a bit of opera with Nessun Dorma, a bit of Frank Sinatra with My Way, and some interesting duets with soprano that are also from our album.”
Finally, tell us something about G4 that fans may not know.
Jonathan: “Gosh, that’s an interesting one. Maybe that I’m not as intelligent as I might sound? (Laughs)”
Nick Ashby: “I can say that we do all help with loading the equipment in and out every day, every show, wherever it is. Even today at the signing, we’ve done that, and we do that for every show around the country whether it’s a big theatre or not, and whether or not they already have a crew there, we always get in there and help. I think it’s a really important part of the process to mentally help getting into the building. You feel like you’ve physically earned your beer at the end of the day! (Laughs)”
Ben: “There’s no writers, there’s no fluffy lambs in the dressing room, none of that stuff; it’s all about the music and that’s what we love, so that’s what important.”