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|Subject: Female First Gossip Magazine Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:57 pm|| |
Interview: Il Divo
01 November 2011
We chat to the quartet about Simon Cowell, their new album and World Tour.
Multi-national classical crossover quartet Il Divo are set to release Wicked Game, their sixth studio album.
The record will be out on 28th November, and we were lucky enough to talk to the boys (Carlos Marín, Urs Bühler, David Miller, and Sébastien Izambard) about the new album, their career and working with Simon Cowell.
-Wicked Game is out in a few weeks. How do you think it compares to your previous records?
We all definitely agree that this is our best work so far. We haven't had a feeling about an album like this since the first album - which, up until this point, has always been our best album in our minds.
-What is it that's given you that feeling about it? Was there something different in the proces, or the song choices?
The process was entirely different actually. The luxury we had on the first album that it happened secretly. Nobody was waiting for it, because Il Divo didn't exist. So, we could take all our time to record that album.
After that, because we were instantly successful, we were always under time pressure. We'd have six weeks in the summer, then by the end of August the album needs to be in the can to come out in November.
We did not want to do this anymore, so we've given ourselves all the time we wanted, that we needed, to create the best album possible.
This album should've come out in 2010 actually, but by the end of the summer of 2010, what we had wasn't good enough to release. So, we postponed the whole thing, and kept on working on it until we feel it's at the level we wanted.
Really, it's the best album we'd done so far, and we've been a lot more involved in the whole creation of it. We sat together in a boardroom and listened, made notes and gave it back to the producers. It was the first time ever that we've done that, that it's been so hands-on with the final product.
-Were the label supportive over your decision to push it back and make sure it was perfect?
Well, it was definitely a joint decision between us and the record company. It's such a precarious thing to have an album where...you may have had a tonne of success in the past, but all that does is raise your bar.
So, when we got to the end of the summer in 2010, we had a meeting with the record company and we all agreed - we can't do this now. It just wouldn't live up to what we needed to be.
-Earlier this year you won Artist of the Year at the Classical BRITS. How did it feel earning that achievement?
It made us feel much older! Feels like the years have gone by! No, in all seriousness - it's just amazing to have such an award. We're very proud - it's amazing that the business is giving us this recognition.
The biggest award at that time was to see all the fans in the audience - no-one has really left us over the years, and that's a really big achievement. We'll be able to do this work for many years to come.
-What do you think has helped you grow your fan-base, and in making you unique?
It's because, being from different countries and having such different voices, when you put them all together, it makes it special.
Plus, the look when we perform - we're always in suits. Well, maybe not this time - the cover of the album is a bit more casual, but we're still smart and good-looking.
-In terms of the classical crossover "scene", people like yourselves and Katherine Jenkins are leading a rise in popularity. Are you glad it's becoming more accessible?
Yeah, it's obviously a great thing for us. If the genre we're in is busy and growing, and there is room for more artists, it gives more to the audience. We are very proud of it as well, it goes on with the previous question about the Artist of the Decade Award. We are still regarded as the forerunners of this whole movement, and that makes us very proud.
-Is there any snobbery from the classical purists towards the idea of introducing a pop element to it?
There's probably a lot of mixture of opinions, it depends on who you ask. For example Placido Domingo has said our music is a gateway into the opera. It's not opera itself per se, but we present our voices in a way that is very easy for the listener.
By the time you get to the climax of the song, you have full operatic technique happening, but it's been such a gradual progression that you don't even realise that you're listening to an operatic finale in a sense. This has made people classically curious.
-Looking back to the beginning of your career, you were put together by Simon Cowell. How was the whole process of the band forming?
It was a very long process actually. The thing is, people always compare that to his talent shows, and it has nothing to do with that, you know? It was him being an A&R man in a record company, and not being in charge of TV.
It was literally trying to make and raise a new project. It was maybe two years he was auditioning people, hundreds of people before they found the four of us.
For us, the situation was very awkward. We met two days before we started recording in the studio, we hadn't known each other before. There was no vision about what Il Divo was going to be, or what it was going to sound like.
All we had was the four of us, with our individual tastes, voices and musical backgrounds, and a handful of demo tapes of songs that Simon Cowell liked. They were pop songs, and they'd thrown us into the studio with a producer. They just said sing this, make it sound great.
The third or fourth time that we re-recorded 'Unbreak My Heart' was the first time we thought...yes, we're onto something! So, it went on, the rest is now history and we're on our sixth album.
-Does Simon Cowell still have much of an input in your music and career, or has it moved on now?
He's still very hands-on actually, he's still very passionate. A journalist said we're probably the only act that's lasted so long over the years, and we realised...yeah. We've been a band for so many years now working with him.
It's been easier working with him every year. First of all, he trusts us - we had our own career before, that was what was different as well. It wasn't through a TV show or anything like that, so I guess we had a bit more credibility in that sense. Sorry, I don't mean that in a patronising way, but you see what I mean by that?
On that last album, from the A&R to the keys of the songs, the vocal arrangements, the finales, the mixes - we had a lot of input in that sense.
-Your career has been long and illustrious - a highlight must have been performing the official World Cup song in 2006. How was that?
One of the greatest things about that was standing in a stadium full of more than 80,000 people - that's the biggest crowd we've ever sung to live.
You could feel the vibrant atmosphere, because everyone was so excited about the World Cup. We were a bit of embellishment around that, it was about the football, of course. Just being part of the whole event was great.
-Were there any nerves ahead of something that huge, or do you take it in your stride?
Yeah, we kinda do. The last thing we would want to do is sound blasé about it, but the thing is - we enjoy this very much. We've been performers all our lives, so obviously you get a kick out of standing in front of an audience - the more, the better. We do enjoy that, we love it.
-For people coming to see you for the first time on that tour, what can they expect from the Il Divo concert experience?
For people who are going to experience it for the first time, they're going to enjoy themselves. We've been working on this particular performance as far back as last August, when we peformed at the Colliseum here in London.
We debuted five songs off the new album, and that's a very large ratio to add to a new concert. Most people, when they come to a concert, they want to hear the songs they already know. We were very nervous to launch straight into a new concept and a new show, with over a third of the songs being new material.
The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, so this is the show that we're gonna bring around the world. People who have seen us before will find that it's head and shoulders above our last tour.
Female First - Alistair McGeorge (Follow Me: @AlistairMcG)