LOVE them or lump them JLS are firmly part of pop’s furniture these days – and you can expect them to figure very much in our summer.
The boy band, who complete a brace of Sheffield shows on their 4th Dimension Tour with a Motorpoint Arena return on Saturday, are preparing to join the massive Buckingham Palace concert in aid of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on June 4.
“We got told a few weeks back,” says Aston Merrygold. “We were ‘What does this mean?’ Are we all suiting and booting properly or do we get to do our own show?
“We’ve got some ideas but just to be asked to do it...we’re gonna go all out with this one. There’s the pick of the crop there.”
Working with Take That’s Gary Barlow, they’re part of an A-list musical line-up that includes Paul McCartney, Elton John, Jessie J and Madness.
“No doubt Gary knows how to put on a show,” says Aston, who isn’t sure whether Her Majesty is a fan of the JLS Jukebox or recent Sport Aid hit Proud. “I dare say so. We’re on the jubilee show so she mustn’t be too far away from being a JLS fan.”
The band have maintained a punishing schedule since first bursting into our lives on X Factor. And just like current sensations One Direction, not winning hasn’t done them any harm at all.
Neither has Aston’s former life as a promising footballer. While a nerve issue with his foot meant he couldn’t fulfil his dream, that fitness has stood him in good stead for some hefty shifts on tour.
“The endurance for us is similar to football; the training, light jogs and stop starts, that helped perfectly. You do a song, you stop, you’ve got to make it look like you’re not tired, not out of breath. It is kind of similar.
“I remember my old training coach used to make us run in blistering heat and we’d be ‘I hate this’, but you look back and it’s definitely put my body in good stead for the age I’m at now.”
And being the vertically challenged member of JLS, it’s also meant he gets to remain ‘cute’ rather than ‘cuddly’ when all that tour grub comes along.
“I used to have long-time girlfriends but I’ve been single for four years. I’m the youngest one in the group and I play off that, but I don’t get cute as much as I used to,” admits Aston, the joker of the pack on tour who reckons the band will be back finishing the next album when they get a chance.
“We’re always in the studio, which might sound crazy because we had an album out last year, but the fourth album is nearly done. The quality is getting better and the quantity is getting less. When we did the first album we’d write 200 songs.
“Last year we wrote about 100 through the year and picked the ones we favoured most. It’s getting stronger through working with different artists and producers.
“We’d love to keep the momentum going as we keep writing and coming out with songs we feel are strong enough to put out there. We’re four very lucky guys, we understand that, but it’s down to your work ethic and if you want it enough you’ll get it. And for us we won’t stop until we get it.”
One thing JLS has never found in short supply are female admirers. But check the internet and you’ll find four young men who appear to be well behaved.
“That’s the perception but anyone who knows us says ‘If people really knew what you are like...’,” laughs Aston.
“We are respectful people, though. At the end of the day you treat people how you wish to be treated. We all abide by rules we need to. If we feel anything is ridiculous...
“Fair enough I’ve got a few tattoos but that’s my personal preference and we all go out drinking and have a laugh.
“We’re all young guys who like to go and party. Who doesn’t?
“But there’s no need to smash up a bus shelter at the end of the day – someone’s got to sit at that bus stop the next morning.”