Look out, Australia. A set of highly energetic twins is headed our way.
Since captivating TV audiences as part of the 2009 edition of Britain’s ‘X Factor’, Irish twins John and Edward Grimes (aka Jedward) have steadily been spreading their fluffy pop cheer across the rest of the world. They represented Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011 – and again in 2012, have been to Australia twice this year for whirlwind promotional visits and are ready to touch down again, this time for three concerts.
We popped on the phone to the boys and while John was recuperating from an ERI (exfoliation-related injury), we chatted to Edward about what it’s like being part of one of the globe’s biggest pop culture phenomenons. Was it a chat? Was it a monologue? We weren’t to be sure, but it kicked off with one of the boys’ trademark explosions of energy.
“What’s up, it’s John and Edward! Okay basically right now we’re calling in from Ireland and we can’t wait to fly over to Australia for our tour. We’ve been there two times. The first time was great, we were on all these different TV shows… we were on ‘Sunrise’, we were on ‘Mornings’… I think it’s really good that we’re finally coming to Australia, because before this year we hadn’t been to Australia, so it’s actually really good.”
That initial burst out of the way, Edward tells us that when they do hit television screens – anywhere in the world – they like to keep things rather spontaneous.
“We never know what’s going to happen and because it’s live, we’re always ‘on’,” Edward admits. “We were on ‘Mornings’ and a fan came dressed in Jedward handouts. She had this whole dress made out of them. A lot of the time our fans give us clothes, so a lot of the stuff you see us in on TV are what the fans have made. They might give us dickie bows (bow ties) or a cool pair of shoes or something. But we still style ourselves and we always have two of everything. We don’t always wear the exact same thing, but when we do, it’s really hard to tell the difference.”
Then comes the dreaded question… “Can you tell the difference?”
Honestly, we’ve never been able to pick who’s who, but Edward gives us the subtle keys to differentiating between the pair.
“I have a scar on top of my lip from when I fell off a bike when I was five. And John has a Harry Potter scar on his forehead which he got when… How did you get that scar, John?” Edward enquires to the other side of the room. “From hockey! We used to play a lot of sports when we were kids. I have a scar on my arm too. I was feeding my dogs and I got caught on the dog can. It was meant to be a safety can, but it obviously wasn’t that safe.”
Though Jedward rose to fame in Britain and Ireland through their appearance on ‘The X Factor’, the rest of the world started getting whiff of their energetic performances at the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, where they represented Ireland with their track ‘Lipstick’. When they did it all over again last year – with ‘Waterline’ – it was clear the love for the effervescent twins had begun to spread far and wide. And given Australia’s love for Eurovision, there was no way that we were going to escape the boys’ bubbly personalities. They’ve subsequently found quite a number of fans here, a million miles from home.
“I think it’s really cool that we go to another country. There are no Australian artists right now who are twins or who do what we do. So it’s cool that when we get to go to a different country, we’re not in conflict with another pair of twins. We’re a different vibe, a different edge. We’re totally different when we go to Australia because there’s nobody like us.
“It’s pretty cool that when all the Irish people who are there right now see us, they get really excited. I remember at our hotel the last time we came, there were all these girls working at a building nearby and they all came to the hotel wanting pictures. They all had their builder hats on and they were all builder girls.”
Yes, it seems the reach of Jedward knows no bounds. And the boys’ fans are some of the most devoted we’ve experienced in our almost two decades in the industry.
We ask Edward why he thinks their fans are so passionate and vocal in their support.
“I don’t know. I think we’ve known them all for four years, so it’s kind of like a friendship,” he reveals. “You know when you have a concert or a baseball game, you go along because your friends are in it? They come to our concerts because they’re really proud of us and if anyone says anything about us, they always have our back.
“Then they’ve made friends with other fans and so it becomes sort of like a lifestyle. So like, for example, if we go to Germany on tour, the fans all want to be there to travel the world with us as well. I think it’s good to have hardcore fans who know what we’re doing every day and it’s good for the general public to see us as well.”
But he does admit there was one instance where he felt the fans may have crossed the line.
“One time there was a crazy situation when we had loads of fans at our house. There were fans outside just jamming and getting ice cream, so that was a bit weird, ‘cause you’d be wanting a shower and you’d have to remember to put the blinds down. We tried to put a stop to that. We walked into the house and didn’t really stop to say ‘hey’, so then in the Jedward world, it became the non-cool thing to do.
“Certain acts would think ‘oh my god, what’s going on, my fans are crazy!?’, but for me and John, we’ve kind of just made it normal. There are always fans at the airport. It’s kind of good that they’re there to report back and tell all the other fans what happened.”
But even though there are fans seemingly everywhere they go who know their every move, the boys reveal they do need a quick escape plan every now and again.
“When you go to shopping centres it’s kind of crazy because there’s no escape because you’re in a confined space. So we like shopping on streets because there’s always a back alley or something so you can get out of there.
“I think it’s good when we go to Australia though. There’s always a fun energy, because not everybody knows us. The fans know. We don’t have a problem stopping and taking pictures – I think it’s cool – but sometimes you’re not ready or you’ve just woken up and you don’t want anybody to see you.”
But one place the fans will be seeing them soon is in the studio. Despite releasing albums in 2010, 2011 and 2012, there’s been no new music from the boys in 2013. Though they recorded 16 new songs in writing sessions in Los Angeles, John and Edward have decided to get back to basics and write their next new music all by themselves.
“It’s kinda cooler to start writing our own songs,” Edward tells us. “It’s better to connect with the fans and have your own lyrics. A lot of fans get tattooed, so it’s good to have a lyric that you’ve written yourself.
“I think me and John surprise ourselves when we sit down to write songs, because we don’t always think on the same wavelength. John might write something and I’ll write something, then we’ll sit down and get the whole song together. We both come up with different concepts and different songs and we’ll try and write lyrics with lines in there that haven’t been said before.
“You’ve got to think outside the box. You never know how the song’s going to work lyrically, then you have to come up with the melody, which we do in all sorts of situations. There are all these random clips on our phones with us singing in locations like an airplane toilet when these melodies come into your head.
“I find late at night is a really cool time to write songs, because during the day I’m totally switched on, but then at night time I get really inspired and I’ll be writing down the songs.”
Our interview weaved between John’s skincare routine (“He’s been exfoliating too much, so he’s in the process of healing.”) to what the boys like to eat (“Grapes and sushi. We like drinking a lot of smoothies.”) to referring to themselves by completely random names in public (“Sometimes we have code names. Sometimes I might call John ‘Paul’, ‘cause if they hear John they might know it’s us, so we have code names. He’ll say ‘Edward, I’m going to call you ‘Phillip’ today’. Something like that.”).
So expect many a madcap antic on stage when the boys arrive in Australia later this week for their three concerts, kicking off in Perth on Saturday night. Edward tells us what else we can expect from the live shows.
“Expect a lot of energy,” he warns. “We’re on stage for two and a half hours, we sing nearly 30 songs, there’s a lot of dancing, we sing acoustic songs, we have our guitar so everyone can sing along. We cover some of the latest hits like Avicii ‘Wake Me Up’, so if you don’t know all our songs, then you’ll be able to sing along to them. It’s really spontaneous. We don’t always play the same things for every audience, so you really don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Rather a lot like our interview, then.
Jedward’s Australian tour kicks off at Perth’s Regal Theatre this Saturday night, before heading to Melbourne and Sydney.
November 23 : Perth (Regal Theatre)
November 30 : Melbourne (Palais Theatre)
December 01 : Sydney (Enmore Theatre)