Talking Music: Collabro Discuss Autumn 2017 Tour

The world’s most successful musical theatre group, Collabro are currently undertaking their third headline tour taking in twenty-nine-dates across the UK.

The tour, which visits St David’s Hall, Cardiff on November 14, sees them joined by very special guests classical singer Carly Paoli and acclaimed British singer-songwriter Philippa Hanna. Plus Chepstow Youth Choir will join Collabro to perform a selection of much loved tracks. 
Kim Carr recently spoke to the boys about the tour.

What will the tour be like compared to previous shows?

Matt: “Obviously the new album Home, we’re going to be doing that as well as some favourites from past tours. We’ve got a few surprises that we can’t give away but it’s going to be amazing. We’re planning the set and how everything’s going to look. It’s going to be the biggest and best tour that we’ve done.”

Jamie: “It’s selling really well so we’re pleased with ticket sales – people will have to get their tickets quick.”

Michael: “There’s one new song that we’re doing that we can’t wait for people to hear.”
Is that a precursor to the next album? 

Tom: “On the first tour we tried out a song that went down so well we put it on the second album. We tried a tour on the second album that went down really well so we put that on the third album. So who knows, maybe we’ll do this song and if it gets a really good reaction…”

Michael: “We like to ask the fans what they want to hear. Obviously social media is a big thing. We’re not mainstream like One Direction or Little Mix but we do have great interaction with our fans; our Collaborators. They love voting on Twitter votes and on Facebook.”

What are your tour rituals?

Jamie: “We have a thing before we go on stage where we have to put our hands into a circle.”

Michael: “We’ve done that before every single gig that we’ve ever done.”

Matt: “We’ve got a chef. We’ve got to have a nice meal before we go on.”

Tom: “We’re not massive divas. The most we ask for is a couple of bottles of wine. I take my teddy Normard everywhere. He might be 10 years old now. He looks a bit raggy.”

Michael: “It’s so sweet.”

Does he watch side of stage?

Tom: “No. He stays in my bed in the hotel.”

What else can you tell me about the tour?

Michael: “We’ve got a support act and a special guest as well – Philippa Hanna and Carly Paoli. It’s nice to have a female voice and a soprano with us. Talking about another album, something we’ve always wanted to do is collaborations with other people. We’ve been lucky enough to perform alongside people like Kerry Ellis so hopefully that’s something we can work towards. Jennifer Hudson said she saw us when she was doing The Voice in the UK. I don’t think she’s going to sing with us but she knows who we are…”

What is your record company situation now? You had huge success with Syco then what happened? 

Jamie: “The first album sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and the second album sold very well too. The problem was Syco are a very busy label. They’re a bit like a conveyor belt. Something new comes on every year from BGT or X Factor and they sign them. Unless you’re selling like Little Mix levels of copies it’s very difficult to keep a record deal with Syco. We did the first album; the first album special edition with more tracks then the second album. For us to do three albums with them is massive. Most of their acts only do one album. Then we got offers from other record labels. We were always very involved in what we did. Richard left the group last year. We didn’t get on – the group didn’t get on. There was an opportunity for a bit of reform because our voice types are different and we had an opportunity to be a bit younger. We thought: ‘Why don’t we make our own record label?’ We ended up doing everything – we did the schedule, we ran the marketing team.”

Matt: “We didn’t realise how tough it would be though.”

Jamie: “Michael directed the TV advert, Tom did all the PRS stuff and I sat in the middle of my spider web. We had a really good time doing it but it was six months of a lot of difficulty. In the end we found we really enjoyed working together. The album went Top 10. For an independent record label doing their first album is huge. I don’t know whether we’d ever do it again.”

Michael: “At points I thought: ‘What if we’d accepted some of the contracts we could have had with other record labels?’ But life is about experiences. You’ve got to go for things. Now we know the process I think we would choose to go with a label again if we got the chance next time but knowing what we know is going to enhance that experience. The first album, although, as Jamie said, it sold hundreds of thousands of copies and we loved making it because it was our first experience in fact there are things we would have wanted to change slightly or had more of a hand in knowing what we know.”

Jamie: “If we get another record deal – there are things happening at the minute – if we work with a record label again we know everything now. I reckon we’ve probably lost loads of money from thinking money came from trees. When you first win the show you think: ‘I’ll get a car here, and I’ll do this’. You don’t realise it’s your money – and no one ever tells you it’s your money. No one ever says: ‘Every penny you spend is your money’. It comes off the top. If you’re not an artist already and you win a show, no one tells you. You’re not briefed on how the financials work. You’re expected to be pretty faces who sing their songs and everyone does everything else. Luckily we have Michael, who is an accountant. He went through our previous contracts and found loads of stuff we hadn’t even been paid for because it hadn’t been invoiced for.”

Michael: “It’s hard when you’ve got so many people involved – management, agents, day-to-day managers, the record label. It has to work so neatly. I remember the first three or four months after winning BGT we would get a day sheet at 10pm and it would be like: ‘Car is picking you up at 5.30’ and there would be a full day until 10pm. Then you’d go in the car home and get another day sheet. There’s no way you can stop to go: ‘Hang on’. To get all those teams of people to be seamless when they’ve got other acts as well. Things do slip. The odd gig here and there, over a year.”

Jamie: “Luckily he went through and found it.”

Did you get the money back?

Michael: “Yeah. Once we got a bit quieter last year… I’m weird with numbers. I love knowing numbers match so I sat and went through stuff. I don’t think it’s anybody’s fault. It was a case of: ‘Oh we thought that had been invoiced’ or ‘We thought that gig had been cancelled because we got you another one’. There are reasons for things but it’s good to try and be on top of it.”

Jamie: “If we were to do a record with a label again we’ve done it. We’ve had a major UK release; we know how much you can get things for. Our TV ad for the second album we found out the budget for that was £15,000 just to make it. We made it (for the third album) and put it across the country for less than that. We bought the TV ad space for less than that. We know now that things cost a certain amount and you don’t have to go to the most expensive people. We know so much more now that we can be more savvy with a label. Labels are brilliant. They do a great job but artists should always make an effort to know what they’re doing and what people are spending their money on.”

Is that what you would say to anyone new?

Jamie: “God yeah. You come off a show and people wrap you in cotton wool and they say: ‘You’re going to be really famous and the world is going to love you. You’re going to go to America and be on Good Morning America’. We were told all this stuff. You’re expected to smile, sing and get on with it and get what you’re given money wise. We’ve talked with some bands from 10 years ago – we’re not going to name them – back when records were at their peak. They lost millions. Management taking it off the top and all sorts. We’re talking about bands in the nineties who were huge. We were talking to one member of one of those bands who probably made over the space of their eight year career £250,000. They sold 60-70million records. They lost money because they never questioned anything.”

Michael: “All the money they were making was going on their travel and nice accommodation.”

Jamie: “If they’d invested all that money then they’d be multi-millionaires.”

Michael: “They were 16-18-year-olds.”

Jamie: “What’s good is none of us were kids. We were 23/24 on average when we won the show. Michael had a finance degree. I’d done a Spanish degree that had business models in it. It gave us an advantage in that we weren’t clueless about money stuff. We used to get re-charged cars that were for other artists and we’d pick it up (the cost). We’ve got some horror stories.”

Jamie: “The advice to anybody doing a show would be: ‘Learn as fast as you can and do your research. Everyone wants your money.”

Michael: “And come to our tour.”

  • For fans of film and musical theatre this tour is not to be missed. Tickets for Collabro’s Home UK Tour are available now at WWW.GIGSANDTOURS.COM | WWW.TICKETMASTER.CO.UK | 0844 811 0051 | 0844 826 2826