Interview | Eurovision's Joe and Jake meet Attitude
Whisper it, but the UK actually has a chance to do quite well in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Why? Two words: Joe and Jake. Sorry Englebert, but the next generation has landed. Formerly contestants on The Voice, the pair of young heartthrobs are already ticking all the right boxes when it comes to credibility and tried and tested public likeability - and they’ve actually got a decent song to boot in the form of perky 1D-esque number ‘You’re Not Alone’.
Attitude’s Umar Sarwar met the boys in London before they jetted off to Stockholm for tomorrow’s grand final (May 14), to find out all the Eurovision gossip, the lessons learned under the mentorship of Rita Ora and will.i.am, and whether they'll be indulging the some of their ardent fan's more, erm, inappropriate requests...
Have you guys always been fans of Eurovision?
Joe: Yeah, we have haven't we?
Joe: Both our families like it, we’ve always watched it with our families. It’s just such a fun watch, it’s entertaining and the music’s great.
Jake: Yeah above all we’re music fans, you know, so the Eurovision song contest automatically appeals to us, you know, as musicians.
Have you got a favourite memory of Eurovision growing up?
Joe: I think my first memory, in terms of watching the whole show, was probably Scooch! Everyone’s surprised that that’s my first memory.
Jake: Mine’s similar when it comes to watching the whole show, but as I was growing up the song ‘Ooh Ahh’ by Gina G was kinda played everywhere, like at every school disco, and all those kind of things.
Obviously you both started out as individual contestants on The Voice – why did you decide to merge your talents?
Joe: It was so simple and straight forward for us, it just clicked straight away. We obviously met on The Voice and we always had a laugh together, and then we started writing together and met up at various gigs and we were like, ‘you know what, let’s see what it sounds like with us singing together’ and luckily for us it sounded really good! We’re really happy it worked out how he did otherwise we wouldn't be sat here signed to Sony and representing the UK in Eurovision.
Did your mentors Rita Otra and will.i.am they pass on any wisdom onto you?
Joe: Yeah of course, Rita was great, we really got along with Rita. She’s just so much fun and she was just really positive. She was like ‘you just gotta keep working hard and no matter how many ‘no’s you get you’re always going to get a ‘yes’. And on the night I actually left the show she was really upset, which shows she really cared about it all, and when we saw her at the after-party and she was just as positive, she was like ‘keep at it’.
Jake: I think what will.i.am said to me, it was obviously along those lines but it was a bit more abstract, I think the term he actually used was, ‘for every door that closes there’s keys to a bulldozer that you can knock the building down with’.
Very will.i.am! Obviously the UK’s Eurovision reputation has been pretty poor over the last few years. What do you think you’re going to bring to the competition to change things up?
Jake: Well, number one, we’re new, we’re fresh, we’re young, we have a song that’s up-tempo, it’s catchy, it’s current…
Joe: Definitely! We love our song, it’s a song we’re very proud of, we really want to do well for the UK, We want to change the perception of Eurovision around the UK, that’s our aim.
Jake: Yeah, we certainly road tested it all over Europe. It’s been really good [and] we’ve got to see how people feel towards it. We’ve done different ages, we’ve done school tours, we’ve been to Amsterdam, Israel, all these different places and everyone really loves it; they really vibe off the song.
In terms of the other artists from different countries, are there any rivalries or is it one big family?
Jake: Everyone is so lovely and supportive for everybody, and I think that’s what’s so great about this [is] that] you don't get people looking down their noses at you, it’s a respectful competition.
Joe: It’s more interesting to say there’s been a rivalry, but so far it’s been genuinely good!
Jake: But there’s a lot of great songs and the standard is so high this year, we’ve got to hear some of the entries live, and got to see what they’re like with the crowd and it’s been very strong.
For the staging of your performance, you requested selfies to be sent in. What’s the story behind that?
Joe: Well the message behind the song is about friendship and togetherness, so we thought what better way than to get everyone on stage.
Jake: We want people to send in pictures of themselves, with their families, maybe with their flag! It’s all about different cultures, it’s not just about bringing the UK together, but bringing the world together and that’s what it’s about, and what Eurovision is about! We just want to combine that all in one big performance.
Obviously Eurovision has a huge gay following. What do your gay fans mean to you?
Jake: In terms of support, for us support is support, we appreciate it regardless on where it comes from.
Jake: The fact that anyone has got behind us is a huge thing for us, we’re so grateful that anyone has got really into the song and us. It’s such an amazing feeling, we’ve had a lot of love.
Joe: We’ve had a lot of love from the gay community, we’ve had a lot of love from the straight community…
Joe: …and animals! [laughs] It’s been great, and as Jake said, we’re so grateful for anyone’s support because you know at the end of the day we’re living our dream doing this and the support we’re getting makes it even better for us.
Would you be up ever be up for doing a shirtless photoshoot together, something a bit sexy?
Joe: We’ve been going to bootcamp gym - Barry’s Bootcamp! If we get into shape, you never know, we may come knocking on the door!
Jake: When he says into shape, he means a better one [laughs]
Have you ever been sent inappropriate pics from fans?
Jake: …A lot.
Tell us everything.
Joe: There’s been quite a few things hasn't there? There’s this one guy who's been asking us to send…
Jake: …a pair of our worn, unwashed socks! [He asks] everyday, sometimes four times a day.
Joe: We get random pictures of people, in random degrees of nakedness. I’ve even had sent cards to my home address – I don't know how they got my home address – but they are fantasy cards and my mum read it out to me, she thought it was just a card!
Incredible. And are you guys seeing anyone at the moment, or are you single pringles?
Joe: Well the thing is because of all of this, we haven't even had time to see our family! We’re each other’s company. We have each other.
Jake: We’re in this together!
Are you going to be on your best behaviour backstage in Stockholm?
Jake: I think in terms of our performance, we’re going to have to be as sensible as possible, we haven't come this far, and been working as hard as we have, to kind of throw it away because we’ve decided to go on a bender…
Joe: I’m sure we’ll celebrate pretty well after!
And in terms of your music after Eurovision, you’ve already been signed to Sony Music. What have you got in the pipeline?
Joe: We’re trying to pluck up a second single, we’re looking at different songs but obviously our main focus is Stockholm, but there is definitely work to be done after Eurovision.
Jake: Definitely, we’re looking at compiling an album, that’s what we’re looking at and what we’d love to do.
Joe: And to work with other artists, that would be the dream for us, to work with people we’re fans of - people like Rudimental. To get an album out would be incredible.
The Eurovision Song Contest airs tonight (May 14) at 8pm on BBC One.More stories:Spain’s first openly gay football referee quits over homophobic abuseGay cyclist passes a homophobic street preacher – what he did next left the crowd cheering