Did you enjoy the judging?
I loved it — but we’re not allowed to be called judges, we’re coaches. I’m a fan of the show and I asked my management to get me a chair if one was going, and then the kids’ version came up and I was asked to do it. It was amazing. I thought there’d be loads of pushy parents and spoilt kids but it’s been a dream — they’ve all been uber-talented. And I got on great with Will and Pixie Lott.
What do you have in common with Will.i.am?
Only that we’re both Pisces. He asked if I believed in aliens too to see if we’re on the same wavelength.
And do you?
I believe there’s something else out there — there has to be. I really want to meet ET. Will loves science and space and all that.
How is the show different to the adult version?
With the adult version the coaches don’t explain why they didn’t turn around for the contestants but we do. We give them some advice and feedback. And with the kids’ version there’s less desperation. You’re not going to get a ten-year-old saying: ‘This is my last chance.’
Do you have to go easier on them because they’re kids? Can you all say no to them?
There were times when none of us turned. There were 70 kids and we only had 12 places in each team. It was difficult. I was amazed by how well they took it. I told them I’d have loved to have had that experience at their age and been given some advice to go away and work on things. It’s not a ‘no’, it’s just a ‘not yet’.
Were there loads of devastated kids crying everywhere?
There were a few. We dealt with it as well as we could. When you’ve got a big dream and there’s a bump on the way, it’s upsetting — but those bumps will make you better. You can only learn from your mistakes.
Is it important for kids to learn how to deal with failure?
It’s all a matter of perspective. It’s OK to fail. It’s all part of it. Don’t look at things as ‘I’ve failed and I’ll give up’, it’s just a step on the journey. I went to college to do music production. I cut my course short 18 months in and said I was going to go to London to join a band and try to get a record deal, and the teacher said I’d never get one. Three months later I got a deal. It was him projecting his failures on to me. You shouldn’t let people stop you. If I hadn’t listened to my own inner belief it might have been different. You shouldn’t let people stop you from doing what you love doing.
You performed in working men’s clubs. What was your act?
I used to get £60 for playing covers when I was 14. Sometimes my sister would sing with me and we’d compete in talent shows. I played a lot of Oasis, Travis, Ocean Colour Scene and Richard Ashcroft.
What’s happening with McFly?
Everyone’s having babies. We’re just enjoying having time off for the first time in 13 years. People are doing individual projects but we’ve just met up to talk about doing the new album. We’re all writing and all trying to get on the same page. We love to get super inspired by something and nothing’s grasping us at the moment. When we did Motion In The Ocean our inspiration was Jellyfish, with Radio:active it was Green Day. We’re just doing demos and working out what we want to do.
What have been the challenges of keeping McFly going?
You do a lot of growing up and you go through a lot of changes. Life just gets in the way as you get older but we’re still going strong. Me and Harry are renovating our houses, he’s having another kid, Tom’s got two kids, Dougie went away and did some acting. Now it’s been a year and we’re all starting again. It’s exciting.
What’s the worst gig you’ve ever done?
We did a charity gig, it was quite small, with young kids at the front, older kids behind them and their parents at the back. I dropped my guitar and accidentally said, ‘Oh f***’ then looked at these little kids’ faces and said, ‘Oh s***, you’re not meant to swear’ then said ‘Oh f***’ and it just turned into a long road of accidental swearing and apologising. The little kids didn’t seem to notice anything but the parents at the back were horrified.
The Voice Kids is on ITV on Saturdays at 7.30pm