The world’s most successful musical theatre group, COLLABRO, has finally released their highly-anticipated third album Home (Portrait Records), marking their debut as a quartet. This UK-based supergroup first garnered acclaim when they won the eighth season of Britain’s Got Talent in 2014. For this new release, COLLABRO selected their favorite classics from stage and screen, featuring well-known musical theatre standards - the 4 members feel this album “is a reflection of us coming home.” The album includes “This Is The Moment” from the sensational Jekyll & Hyde (chosen by fans), “Beauty And The Beast” (taken from the iconic Disney film), and “Oh, What A Night” (featured in The Jersey Boys). The album also features one original track, “Lighthouse,” which was written by Ben Adams (formerly of BRIT Awards-winning boyband A1).
Specializing in musical theatre, the group consists of Michael Auger, Jamie Lambert, Matthew Pagan and Thomas J. Redgrave. The band has found success with their operatic musical theatre style, touring the world and recording a number-one album. This quartet already has quite the pedigree; they have sung in front of UK royalty at the Royal Variety Performance, during V.E. Day, and at Windsor Castle. In addition, they have appeared at huge venues (entertaining thousands) at the London O2 Arena and Wembley Stadium (most notably during Soccer Aid 2016, in front of 7 million viewers). Their UK success, where they completed two major sell-out tours with headline dates at the London Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall, is not the only accolade on their shelf: COLLABRO has also performed in Japan, Canada, and the U.S.
I met with Jamie, Matt, Michael, and Tom backstage right before their album release show at the Highline Ballroom in New York City. Their youthful, boyish looks are deceiving – they are all very well-mannered and refined, with a great sense of humor. We talked about fame, work-life balance and what the future holds…
Bella: Only a month after coming together as a group, you received a standing ovation from both the audience and judges of Britain’s Got Talent for your rendition of the song “Stars” from the musical Les Misérables. How did you make that happen; really, where did it all start?
Tom: Jamie and Matt knew each other before the band (from doing contract work in Spain) and they really wanted to put something together because all four of us were trying to get into the musical theater industry in London at that time. Just like Broadway in New York, it’s so incredibly difficult to crack. They found Michael and me on social media, and we just started singing. Initially, we thought we would go for cruise lines and corporate events, but when we heard each other sing together for the first time, we knew we had something special – we really wanted to take it somewhere big. We decided to send a video to Britain’s Got Talent, and we were actually a little late getting in there, but they said that they really loved our sound and wanted us on the show! Since we each already had day jobs, we only had a week’s-worth of rehearsals to prepare. We were planning to perform “Bring Him Home,” but three days before the audition we sang “Stars” together and something just clicked – it was a magical moment, when we knew then that we had to do that song…
Michael: When we got on stage for the first time, we could tell that the judges were rolling their eyes (expecting just another boyband). They couldn’t believe that we had formed only a month ago. When we were singing “Stars,” it was great to see Simon Cowell go from rolling his eyes to having dollar signs, or pounds signs *laughs*, in his eyes. In the end, all four judges were standing up and applauding. We were really overwhelmed – Jamie was crying. What we didn’t realize at the time was that when we walked off the stage after getting four yeses, the camera carried on filming Simon Cowell and he said “that’s a hit record.” And we actually became the number-one album in the UK a few months later!
Bella: You mentioned that you previously had day jobs. What did you do before?
Tom: We all did different things. I worked in a Japanese restaurant.
Jamie: I worked in a hospital’s financial department.
Matt: I went from working in a kitchen to selling them. I was a kitchen-furniture and appliances salesman.
Michael: I was working at a gas station.
Bella: Incredible. You come from such different backgrounds yet you ended up being together! So, what’s behind the name Collabro? Does it suggest a collaborative spirit that reflects how the group works?
Matt: The word “collabro” literally means “a collaboration of brothers.” We aren’t related, but we might as well be.
Jamie: To build up on what Matt said, it was building a collaboration of brothers that then evolved, and we got all these fans whom were called the “collaborators.” We now have a big Collabro family all over the world – that’s the idea of it. We have got fans in every corner of the globe who set up street teams and they work to promote us – they are all amazing! It all evolved from that one name.
Bella: Let’s talk about your new album, Home. What is the origins story behind the creation of this album, and did you have any challenges?
Matt: This has been the easiest process in terms of recording, but we created our own record label this time and it was a lot more work than we would have thought. We did manage it in the end. In terms of the songs, it’s predominantly musical theatre except for two – “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra, and our first original song called “Lighthouse.”
Bella: You’ve performed for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, shared the stage with music veterans Bette Midler and Dame Shirley Bassey, and sung with several highly-respected peers, including Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran, and One Direction. Which artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Jamie: We did a whole lot of variety, performed with a ton of famous names (including international artists) when we went to Japan. We have always said that one day we would like to perform alongside legends like Lea Salonga, Barbra Streisand, or Beyonce.
Bella: Does that mean that you may be relocating?
Jamie: That would be lovely, but I think we are too enamored of London. Our biggest fan base is in the UK, even though we are really grateful for our international fans too. We have toured America, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, etc. where we sang alongside Sam Smith and our single became number one!
Tom: Yeah, Sony asked us if we would learn “My Dream to Dream” in Japanese . We agreed to record it in Japanese and after performing it live, the single hit number one. The Japanese loved the fact that we would just take the time to learn a song in their language.
Bella: Let’s talk about your personal lives. Is there any time for romance with your busy schedules?
Tom: I have a long-term girlfriend and Matt is engaged. The other two are looking for love! *laughs*
Matt: Technology these days is amazing. I Facetime and Skype with my fiancée all the time and feel really connected. It works out!
Jamie: I am married to my three-year-old pug Peggy. *laughs*
Tom: Michael is in love with numbers!
Michael: Yeah, I’m a mathematician with a degree in accounting. I do the accounts for our label.
Bella: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Tom: We are going to be international millionaires!
Jamie: We spent the last 3 years building our brand, and since Britain’s Got Talent, we’ve made a lot of changes – we are a label now, and we became a four piece (Collabro originally had five members). What’s exciting about the next few years is that we now have full control and a fresh slate to start from. We’ve learned from our mistakes and now we know where to go with that. We have more knowledge and we face more opportunities now, which gives us a chance to take all the work we put into the new album and make it an international success. It is really exciting!
Matt: I would like it if things go as well as they are now. It would be amazing to still be together after 10 years. It’s very rare for a “boy band” to be together for that, long never mind for a musical theatre group!
Bella: Our traditional question – what does being InLOVE mean to you?
Matt: Being InLOVE is having that one person you can share everything with and be your absolute best friend in life.
Jamie: It’s when someone can see what your worst and your best is.
Tom: Being InLOVE is being able to do absolutely nothing with somebody and still feel loved and comfortable.
Michael: It’s when you part with someone and the next thing that you want to do is to be back with them!
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