Collabro, the five-piece vocal group that emerged as champions last year on Britain’s Got Talent, is crossing the Atlantic for their first-ever American concerts. Their debut album Stars went to No. 1 last year, and their follow-up, Act Two, entered the U.K. album chart last month at No. 2.
Collabro debuts at the Highline Ballroom in New York City tomorrow (July 15) and at the Vibrato Jazz Club in Los Angeles July 21. Just ahead of the concerts, we had a chance to dig into what makes the group tick. Here’s our exclusive interview with Michael Auger, Richard Hadfield, Jamie Lambert, Matt Pagan, and Thomas J Redgrave – Collabro.
Your new album has a mix of pop/rock hits and songs from stage and screen. Did a variety of musical sources influence you as young singers?
We all grew up listening to musical theatre, that is the one genre that links us all together, but it’s really great that we all have other genres that we loved growing up:
Tom – Metal/Punk
Michael – Pop
Jamie – Opera
Richard – Swing
Matt – Swing and Rock
It’s been great to incorporate all of our likes into aspects of our singing and we hope that comes across in our album with a new ‘Collabro’ sound.
How did five such talented singers as yourselves end up in the same place at the same time so that Collabro could come into being?
Jamie and Matt knew each other from working on the performance circuit up North and took their performance abroad working in hotels and singing as individuals there and with a friend, they came up with the idea to put together a group. Auditions were held in London where they found Tom and Michael and then to add a fifth harmony, they all searched on YouTube for musical theatre singers and found Richard who completed the group.
The name “Collabro” suggests a collaborative spirit. Does that reflect how the group works, personally and musically?
Yes, we say it means a collaboration of brothers and we believe everything we do is a collaborative effort and we really have become like brothers, always looking out for each other and even play-fighting too.
We work together on everything, from the music we sing to the outfits we wear, so we really have to get along, and we think that comes across when we sing.
Harmony vocals are a big part of your distinctive sound. Is singing in choral groups part of your background?
A few of us have been in choirs or musical theatre amateur dramatic societies and so I think that’s where the love for harmonies comes from. When you’re in a group it is so important to blend together and it takes many hours of practise to figure out who sounds best where, and even now, we’re still figuring things out. We love that the harmonies give us the distinctive sound and we have included intricate harmonies throughout the album.
Your new album Act Two includes “Music Of The Night” from The Phantom of the Opera. I’m told your Facebook fans chose that song for you to work into your concerts. How did that work?
Yes, so with our new album, we really wanted the fans to have their say. We did surveys on Facebook and Twitter and we got hundreds of suggestions for songs and that song along with ‘I dreamed a Dream’ came up so often that we just had to put it on the album. We actually tested these two songs out on our 31-date sellout UK tour in Jan-Mar 2015 and they went down so well we couldn’t wait to record them in the studio.
What else have you learned from hearing from your fans?
Our fans are so devoted, they support us no matter what we do, it’s great. We keep hearing stories of how so many of them have made friends through being Collaborators [Collabro fans] and that is so special.
You’re well-known in Britain, have performed for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, and were a headline act at London Gay Pride. You’re less well known in America. Are you looking forward to your first U.S. concerts? Have you been “across the Pond” before?
We have has such success over here and are so proud of the many achievements that we never dreamed we’d be doing, especially coming from the ordinary jobs that we had before. We CANNOT WAIT to get to America, we have all dreamed of coming to the States to perform and we’ve been overwhelmed by the American support we already have so we can’t wait to meet some of our fans and perform for them!
We’ve been to Hong Kong, Portugal, Monaco and Japan to perform for Collaborators and America is the next stop! Bring it on!
You’ve been on the road a lot lately. Where do you all live when you’re not on tour?
We all live in London now. It’s so great to be in amongst the bright lights in the big city. Most of us grew up in small towns so this journey literally is taking us to places we’ve never been before. London is a really great place to live and we can’t wait to see how New York and L.A. compare.
Any favorite experiences so far since winning BGT last summer?
Oh my, where do we begin? Our debut album Stars went straight to Number 1 in the UK charts in August 2015 and I think for a new type of band that is so awesome.
We have met One Direction, Ed Sheeran and Demi Lovato at the Royal Variety Performance where we also met Prince William and Kate. Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, even told us that we looked amazing so that’s one thing we will never forget!
Performing live to an audience is what really gets us all going so to be able to do that for over 55,000 people on our UK sellout tour was just incredible. We got to meet Collaborators each night and some of the stories they told us of how our music had helped them get through hard times were really moving and quite emotional.
We were overwhelmed with how many people had travelled from different countries to see us: Amsterdam, France, Switzerland, China, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and America! We are so grateful.
When we got the call from Simon Cowell saying we had a second album with Syco [Simon Cowell’s record label] it was a huge achievement because we know that his record label is full of greats: One Direction, Little Mix, Il Divo, Labyrinth and our new friends Fifth Harmony who we met when we performed at BGT in 2015 as last year’s winners. To be on the same label as these amazing artists is fantastic and of course the best part is that we get to keep making music for the fans. Everything we do is for them!!!