Aston Merrygold talks to ESP’s Mikey Clarke about music, the chances of a JLS reunion and a new film he’ll be staring in later this year!
If you’ve not heard the name Aston Merrygold, where have you been? The former Jack Hunt pupil shot to fame on the popular TV Show, X-Factor, back in 2008 – with his band, JLS. It was clear that the boys would move on to big things – which of course they did, with 5 UK number one hits and more than 6 million records sold in this country alone.
A few years back, the band split but Aston continued his music career solo – and ESP Magazine has been behind him the whole time. As it’s been a little while since we last spoke to the local lad, during an interview with Aston, I was curious to know what he’s been up to in recent months. He told me, “It’s been an incredible year and it’s been so varied as well. I’ve been working on my music, performing around the world and I even filmed a movie.”
As a film critic for ESP, I was keen to hear more about the flick. “It’s called Boogie Man,” he said. “It’s directed by a guy called Andrew Morahan, who I’ve worked with before. He said he had a part for me, which I was more than happy to take and I’m really pleased with the results. It’s a family friendly British comedy which I think looks great and can’t wait for you to see it.” Aston assured me that we’d get more details of Boogie Man later in the year, closer to its release.
Back to the music. Aston released the song One Night in Paris in January of this year and followed that up with Precious – which is available now. You may have seen him perform the track recently on All Round to Mrs Brown’s. On the show, Mrs Brown threw his/her usual sexual/controversial comments towards the singer. I was curious what he/she was like behind the scenes. Aston explained, “What you see on the screen is what you get backstage too. The whole family are there and they’re all hilarious. I filmed the pilot episode which was shown for Comic Relief and I was chuffed when they asked me back. You’re greeted with open arms and you all have drinks afterwards – I didn’t want to leave.”
What track can we expect next? “I’ve been playing about with a few different ones and some of them are really catchy. I find myself singing them when I’m out and about without even realising it. Someone will ask ‘What song is that?’ and I’ll embarrassingly reply that it’s one of my own.”
If Aston has a variety of songs already put together, surely an album is just around the corner? “There will be,” he said. “But I don’t want to rush things. I want to be really happy with it. It’s still early days and I’m trying out a few different sounds to find out what I’m most comfortable with.”
I wondered how the Peterborough singer felt about having sole control over his music now that he was no longer in a band. “Having complete control is very important to me. That’s why I’m taking my time with the process and making sure I get it right, as the music is a reflection of me now, not a band. And it’s a great time to be getting music out there. With technology the way it is these days, it’s easier than ever to try out a few different things and get it out there for people’s opinions before any official decisions are made.”
I had to laugh at the artwork for Aston’s single I Ain’t Missing You. It features all the different ways that people say his name. I recall ‘Ashton’ being the most popular one when he was on X-Factor. Surely, now with all his fame, people are saying it right? He explained, “It’s the strangest thing… I used to be called Ashton all the time and then after a while it stopped and people were getting it right. Recently, it seems to have gone back to the old ways. But seriously, you can’t expect everyone to know who you are so maybe I should use it as something to aim for?” He joked, “When everyone is calling me Aston, I’ll know I’ve made it.”
Aston has remained a big advocate of his home town – and even has a tattoo of the Cathedral on his right forearm. With family still here in the city, he finds himself this way a lot. “Peterborough always feels like home – I love it. It makes me laugh when I drive around and think about the days when I used to bike absolutely everywhere. One minute I would be in Westwood and then Dogsthorpe the next. I must have had so much energy back in the day.”
On the topic of reminiscing I wondered what his thoughts were on the show that got him where he is today (X-Factor) and whether he’s still a fan. Aston confirmed, “I do still watch it. Being on that show was a lot of hard work but I’m so grateful for it. How many other shows can you say has produced so many chart performers? It’s incredible and I’m always curious to see who the next star could be. Plus, seeing that show is the countdown to Christmas, which can’t be a bad thing.”
The big question was – of course – any chance of a JLS reunion? “There’s not, I’m afraid,” he told me. “I still see a lot of the boys but we’re in different places now. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still as close as ever. We spent ten years together and always felt really comfortable around each other. We didn’t want to lose that, just because of the split.”
So, apologies if you were hoping to see JLS together any time soon, however Aston is performing his new hits on May 3 (Gorilla, Mancheser) May 4 (o2 Institute 2, Birmingham) and May 5 (Islington Academy, London).
If that doesn’t quench your thirst for the local singer, keep checking out ESP Magazine. With new songs, an album and a movie on the way – I’m sure we’ll be speaking to him again real soon.