The Collective have experienced mixed fortunes since placing third on the 2012 edition of ‘X Factor Australia’ and subsequently signing a record deal with Sony Music. They hit gold status with their first single ‘Surrender’ and self-titled debut album, but have yet to reach the top 30 with any follow-up releases.
Their fourth single “The Good Life’ sees the boys return to a more up-tempo sound following the more pensive ‘Burn The Bright Lights’.
We sent Brad along to chat to the boys to discuss the new single, this year’s ‘X Factor’ and the ‘good life’ in general. The boys quickly reveal that they decided to record ‘The Good Life’ after hearing some demos from their team at Sony.
“We had the chance to listen to a few songs, and there were some really good ones,” Jayden tells us. “Sony helped us out and said ‘The writers have had a lot of success in the past and we really think it’s going to take off’. We weighed it all up and said ‘Yeah, you know what, it’s a really solid song’.”
The turnaround was unusually fast, with Trent telling us that within two days, they’d heard the demo, recorded their own version and chosen it as a single.
“Everyone was after it, so we had to jump on it!” he admits. “Hot Chelle Rae’s team wrote the song, and their voices were on it when we first heard it.” “Cody Simpson had a version of it too,” Jayden adds.
But just because they didn’t write it doesn’t mean they didn’t put their own spin on the song, with rapper Will re-using the rap he performed during his first ‘X Factor’ audition.
“I had written that a couple years ago but I had never used it in a song because I thought it was too good to go to waste. Not to big myself up!” he clarifies. “The fans love it because they had already familiarised themselves with it, so when they heard it again in a song it was kind of nostalgic for them.”
The boys had worked with a number of high profile songwriters in the lead up to this new single.
“We’ve worked with a few producers, like Lindsay Rimes and Adam Reilly. We even got a song from Jason Derulo!” Trent excitedly tells us. “Sony are good to us and have some really good contacts.”
That being said, it might be a while yet before we get another Collective album.
“The way that people buy things is changing,” Julian admits. “The music industry, especially in Australia, is ruled by kids these days, so kids would rather buy a single because they can afford $2, compared to an album which might be $12 or $13.”
It’s not all doom and gloom though. “It would be silly not to release an album, because we want to get it out there to the people that have supported us from the beginning.” Jayden declares.
“We’ve had a lot of reinventing time and a lot of songs have come through, songs we’ve written and songs we’ve been given. I can’t say when it (an album) will be because we’re not sure if we want to lead with another single. There are so many options and we want to make the right decision, because we might not get many more shots at this.”
Speaking of re-invention, the boys are eager to tell us how they’ve bonded since their time on ‘X Factor’.
“We’ve all moved to Sydney and gotten to know each other through these last two years. I could pick what Julian might wear to what Jayden could sing in a song,” Trent tells us.
That’s not all that’s changed for the group. “We have taken charge of our business you could say,” Trent reveals. “Thank God for that!” Will chimes in.
“On ‘X Factor’, Ronan and Squared Division were there with us, but as soon as it finished, it was us by ourselves. So we had to take it on and I’m glad we have because we’re falling into our own little zone,” Trent elaborates. “We organize our dancing, our singing, the business side of things. We literally take it all on now.”
Speaking of ‘X Factor’ , much has been made about recent contestant Rochelle’s comments about favouritism within the talent quest. The Collective pull no punches about their take on the situation.
“I think that’s just being a poor loser,” Will says. “Why didn’t she say anything while she was in the competition?”
We couldn’t help but point out that some of the band’s fashion choices during their time on the show were a little bit… well, odd. Three words : Metallic. Silver. Suits.
“We all spoke up about the silver suits, but we’re not going to go the media and talk shit about anyone. We’ll just keep it straight,” Will says.
Besides the silver suits didn’t turn out to be such a bad idea.
“All our fans were getting involved. They were throwing silver tampons at us while we were on stage. It turned into a game, so that worked out well for us,” Jayden admits. “If we have a tour, we might bring them back for a song, just for fun,” Will adds.
‘The Good Life’ continues a streak of Collective songs that start with vocals from Julian, rotate Trent and Jayden on the second verse then end with a verse or rap from Will. Consequently, we asked why their songs have a similar structure.
“There are parts of songs where people can’t sing it,” Julian admits. “Like I might not sing a chorus if it’s too high for me. Usually I start the song because it’s the lowest part,” he admits. The rest of the group laughs.
“I think when more material comes out, it’ll be clear that there is no formula. It’s just happened to be that the songs we’ve released just fit that way, but when an EP comes out, hopefully very soon, you’ll hear other tracks that are very different,” Will hints.
“Our music has such a versatile sound. What we write will never be straightforward pop music. It could have a banging beat, some rap and then a crazy rock vocal over the top with harmonies. We like to cover a broad range of music.”
Speaking of the band’s sound, the boys were eager to tell us why they’ve returned to up-tempo for ‘The Good Life’.
“Coming up to summer, everyone’s a bit happier,” Julian reveals. “When you hear a happy song, it brightens you up. You don’t want to hear sad stuff during a nice warm day.”
The boys’ hopes for the single are pretty straightforward.
“We just want it to do well really,” Will tells us. “If it was up to us, it would take over the world. Hopefully go gold, go platinum, get some good reviews, some good feedback. Hopefully now that the video is out, it’ll start jumping up the charts.”
Obviously being in a boyband has its perks, but the lifestyle might not always be as it seems from a fan’s perspective. We ask the boys what was the biggest misconception people have about being a popstar.
“I think people assume that it’s the high life all the time!” Julian answers. But isn’t their new single about living the good life?
“Of course the good life, but we’re not living this Hollywood, L.A. life,” Jayden continues. “I’m still driving my first car (“A 1998 Honda Civic,” Julian adds), it’s not like I’m gonna buy this sports car. I’m still working at it. Yes I’ve landed a contract and living the dream, but there’s still a long way to go’
While the boys may not get to see the material side of ‘the good life’ just yet, the boys feel perpetually high from the joy they give to their fans. Will in particular shares quite a moving story.
“We have these girls come up to us and though they’re quite young, they go through a lot of bullying,” he tells us. “One girl came up to me and she had scars up both arms. And these weren’t pretend scars, they had been there for a bit. She came up to me and said, ‘You guys have helped me get through this’.”
“It brought me to tears. I just had to stand up and hug her. To see something like that and to know that our music and who we are can help her through all that stuff… that makes me feel good. That makes me feel like I’m doing something at the end of the day above everything else.”