■ The McFly drummer and 2011 Strictly winner, 34, on getting back with the band and how life has changed after having kids
You’re retelling the first Thomas The Tank Engine story to celebrate its 75th anniversary. How does that feel?
It’s cool! I was reading about the history of how it all started and by pure coincidence, just before coming on board with it, my two-year-old son discovered Thomas The Tank Engine, so it was perfect timing. He and my four-year-old daughter like watching the cartoon, so I’ve been reminding myself of all the characters and where it’s set. It’s not actually that much different to the original book but it’s certainly evolved.
Did you read it and watch it when you were a kid?
I used to love Thomas The Tank Engine. My mum has still got some of mine and my brother’s toys in the toy boxes that she’s kept for 25 years. So now when my kids go there, there are a couple of Thomas trains kicking about. It’s re-entered our family consciousness.
In 1984 Ringo Starr joined the TV series as the first famous storyteller, which now includes Pierce Brosnan and Eddie Redmayne and you…
I feel very privileged to be in the same sentence as those names! I think you see actors and musicians getting involved once they have kids themselves because it’s nostalgic. You can also show your kids you’ve been hanging out with Thomas, so you get cool dad points.
How does it feel to be back together with McFly?
It’s good! We did a comeback show in November at the O2 and then started back in the studio recording new music. We were active from 2003 to 2016 so it was a short break and we still hung out. Not being in McFly was the most unenjoyable period of our adult lives.
You had to have therapy as a band to sort some issues out…
Yeah, we went to a couple of sessions together because we’re genuinely best mates but we never had the courage to say certain things because we never wanted to hurt each other. So issues built up over 15-16 years and then people went through personal problems that made them do things they wouldn’t normally, so resentment built up. It got messy and we couldn’t function as a band, so the only way to sort it was in a neutral setting where we all felt comfortable talking to each other. We never fell out.
Bands that reform seem to like it more the second time round…
You really do. Also when you’re younger it’s just easy because everything you’re doing seems to be a success — you almost resent it and take it for granted. It’s the cliché of not realising what you have until it’s gone but for us it’s not that we missed the success, we missed being a band and not doing things as a four.
Who’s changed the most out of all of you since you started?
Looks-wise, definitely Tom [Fletcher]! Tom and I walked out of the studio the other day and this guy went, ‘Oh wow, you look amazing, considering!’ And we were like, what? He said, ‘You used to be a bit bigger!’ Tom took it in good jest but we often search for pictures of Tom from 2004 and have a good laugh. I like to think I’ve improved slightly — Danny [Jones] and Doug [Poynter] look fairly similar. Personality wise we’re slightly more mature but only because we have children.
You’ve been very open about your past drug use and anxiety…
I think I underestimated it a bit — I felt comfortable talking about it but you feel it sometimes defines you. I’m in a good place now but at the same time I don’t regret talking about it. Most people seem to face issues with their health whether it’s mental or physical, so it’s pretty normal.
Your wife, Izzy, talked about your fertility struggles and the pressures of being a new parent — have you had a good response to that?
Izzy has found it really therapeutic. I was happy with her wanting to write a book about it and naturally it gained a bit of interest. She loves being able to talk to a community of people who have also suffered with miscarriage, fertility problems and anxiety. The only thing I questioned was because we’re privileged, I felt a little uncomfortable coming across like we were complaining.
How different will touring be now most of you have kids?
I’m really looking forward to lie-ins! My kids aren’t at school yet so they’ll probably be coming on the road a little bit but logistically it’s not ideal. It’ll be a lot of fun as all our kids grow up together. We had Tom and his wife, Giovanna, over last Sunday for teatime with their kids Buzz, Buddy and Max and it’s lovely to see all the kids playing. Conversations in the studio have changed — we talk about parenting and not what happened last night.
Are McFly back for good?
If it were up to me then I’d happily be walking on stage in my 90s with a Zimmer frame and playing the drums.
■ Judd is one of the celeb dads taking part in Reading With Friends on the official Thomas & Friends UK YouTube channel