JLS rose to fame on The X Factor in 2008 when they came second to Alexandra Burke.
Quickly the boys signed a record deal with Sony imprint Epic and released their debut self-titled album in autumn 2009. Over the last 6 years, JLS have released a total of 4 albums, 14 singles and toured countless times. Earlier this year the group announced they would be going their separate ways after the release of their final single, a greatest hits album and a final tour in December.
We caught up with JB Gill from the group to talk about the final weeks of JLS, discuss their incredible career, and to find out what life holds for him after JLS.
What have you been up to so far this week?
It’s only Tuesday so not a lot (laughs) but we were at the Gary Barlow Children in Need Rocks dinner last night which was a star-studded affair to say the least. It was a great night. A lot of fun!
The new single Billion Lights is out this week. Tell us a bit about the track.
It’s obviously the final single you’re going to hear from your boys JLS. It’s an uptempo track which I suppose is contrary to popular belief. We wanted to do something that was quintessential to JLS for our last offering. A very good friend of ours, Ali Tennant, that’s actually written on all four of our albums wrote it with an upcoming girl called Camille. For us we love the song. We’ve worked with Ali for years, even before we did The X Factor, and it’s such a great thing to have him write on this single and for it to be the last song we’re going to release.
It’s a fitting title really isn’t it? With all the touring you’ve done over the years you’ve probably seen a billion lights in the audience haven’t you?
Yeah! We’re very privileged and very blessed. As you say it’s a fitting title for the last song.
The Greatest Hits album comes out on Monday. Can you believe JLS is really coming to an end?
(laughs) Well yeah because we instigated it! I don’t think it was ever in our plans that we’d have a Greatest Hits at this point in our career. We’ve been at it for almost 7 years now so I think it’s the right time. We wanted to support a Greatest Hits because as part of our record deal they could have just released a Greatest Hits for us. We’d had so much huge support over the years, we’ve had five number ones and we’ve achieved things a lot of people don’t get to achieve. For us it’s the right thing to do and we’re looking forward to everyone having all the hits on one disc, or one computer as they say these days.
Why did you decide to give your fans notice of your split rather than announcing it after your Greatest Hits release and tour?
It’s very close to them you know. For a lot of our fans this will have been a quarter or even a half of their lives that we’ve been together. That’s a big statement. For us it’s about giving them that notice and giving them that respect. This is something that’s probably going to hit them harder than it’s going to hit us. We keep moving and we keep going on. They will always be supportive and always be fans of ours. It was important to let them know what our plans were. We’d actually had the tour booked for a long time as you do with tours these days. We didn’t want to cancel that and that’s the reason it’s been so long since we announced the split. It’s important for us. It’s important to get round the country and perform for everybody and just see them for the last time.
The tour is just round the corner now. How excited are you to be going back out on the road for one final time as JLS?
Very excited! Yesterday we got back into the studio and had our first day of rehearsals which is exciting. We’ve got a band on this tour so it’s going to be very interesting and very different. It’s going to bring a new direction to our performance and to the show.
JLS have become known for their big arena shows full of theatrics and surprises. Can we still expect some of that for your final tour?
Yeah of course. This tour isn’t so much about the theatrics and the surprises but we definitely want to keep it nostalgic. We’ve always got tricks up our sleeves but this is going to be about playing all the songs that the fans love, even the ones that weren’t as well-known on the albums and some classics from the tours previously. You’ve got some real music to look forward to.
As well as the single, the album and the tour you’ve also got a new book out. You’re really treating your fans aren’t you?
This is the last time our fans are going to see us. For us it’s important to give them as much as we can. Whatever we could do, we wanted to make sure we did it.
What are you going to miss the most about being part of JLS?
Probably touring. For us it’s always been great to be able to be on the road and perform with three other people standing beside you and to enjoy that. That’s a very unique atmosphere and it’s not something that everybody can do. As you go on tour, and as we’ve found out, dancers change, team members change, managers change and all that stuff changes. We’ve always had the four of us and that’s what it boils down to that. That’s what’s been important for us and we’ve always looked to each other. There’s no one that’s being dragged or is being taken along for a ride; we’ve all put our weight in and that’s the beautiful thing.
With knowing that JLS was coming to an end for quite a while, have you started to plan the next steps for you?
It’s prudent to plan in advance. For me I haven’t done too much planning because I think it’s important to take stock and to regroup then go on to the next stage with conviction. There are a few things in the pipeline. As you may know I have been setting up a farm in Scotland and that’s going very, very well. Hopefully by the New Year I’ll have something that I’m able to announce officially. For me it’s going to revolve around a lot of different things that I do.
Obviously I’m still going to be involved in music and I’m still going to be writing. I’ve been in the studio with a guy called Mike Hough who is up-and-coming and he’s actually on tour with us this year. That’s exciting for him and hopefully he’ll perform a couple of songs that we’ve written. It’s an exciting time. I’ve said to everybody that this is the time where we can all do what we want to do, put our minds to it, work hard on it and see where it leads us. We’ve got a brilliant platform for ourselves and I think the support and the things we’ve been able to achieve over the years has put us in good stead for the future.
Just to pick up on the comment you made about ‘taking stock’ now the group is nearing an end. It must be nice to have some time for yourself as we imagine since The X Factor and JLS you’ve not had all that much free time?
Yeah. Obviously we’ve spent nearly every single day with each other since the show, and even before that. On top of that we’ve been super busy, loads of tours, summer tours, I think 13 or 14 singles now and that’s a lot. That’s why we sat down and said it was time to do what we want to do. Not that we didn’t do what we wanted to do before but it’s just the right time. Taking stock is important and it’s an important part of life. For us it’s just nice to be able to spend some time with our families. Marvin has a wife and a baby now. I don’t have kids but if I did it would be very, very important for me to spend time with them, see first steps and spend time actually doing some things with your family.
If you could pick one favourite memory from your time in JLS what would it be?
It would be the night that we won 2 BRITs at the BRIT Awards in 2010.
That must have been a huge deal, especially having come from The X Factor?
It was a huge deal! It was a huge deal because we also performed that night in front of the whole of the music industry. We were the first X Factor act to win a BRIT and we’re still the first to win two in one night. The fact that we picked up the BRIT for Best Single was an incredible achievement because the guys that wrote that – Steve Mac and Wayne Hector – have written countless number ones in their history and that’s the first time, and only time to date, that they’ve won a BRIT for Best Single. Which is incredible! We’ve been in the business of setting trends and breaking records which is an incredible thing to take and remember for our futures.
JLS’ new single Billion Lights is out now and Goodbye – The Greatest Hits is released on Monday 18th November. The group embark on their last ever tour this December. Watch the video for Billion Lights below: