■ The McFly drummer, 32, on winning Strictly, battling anxiety and his new campaign about what it means to be a man
Tell us more about your man-focused campaign.
It’s about allowing men to define their own masculinity. The stereotype of a man is to be confident, strong and competitive. Philips did a load of research to show that some men don’t feel comfortable being described that way and that there are many dimensions to a modern man, such as being emotional and sensitive and not bogged down by stereotypes.
Does any of this address the male suicide epidemic?
There’s no connection with the campaign but I’m aware that it’s the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. It’s great we’re having these conversations and it’s becoming more acceptable for men to speak out about how they’re feeling. Men are supposed to be able to deal with their emotions and ‘get on with things’ but that can have negative results.
You’ve spoken about having anxiety and depression. Were you worried about how that would be received?
I was a little worried. I thought people might say, ‘Boo hoo, poor you.’ But I had a positive response. It’s OK to speak out and the first step for people is to talk to their loved ones. I tried to tell my story in a positive way and explain that I’d found coping mechanisms. Anxiety and depression aren’t anything to be ashamed of, it’s no different to any other ailment. It doesn’t reveal itself in a physical way but it can be very isolating.
What was happening with you?
I started suffering from anxiety when I was 19. I had panic attacks and anxiety and was up and down in my twenties with it. It can be very frightening and isolating, particularly with pressures of work and social media.
What’s helped you?
I’ve been sober for eight years. Drink was a huge trigger for anxiety for me. I stay on top of having a healthy lifestyle — I exercise and get to bed on time, which works well with having two small children. In the early days of the band there was drinking and a lot of partying, and that went over the edge and I started suffering from panic attacks. I’ve tried therapy and medication but, ultimately, a change of lifestyle is what helped the most.
What’s the Rip It Up tour about?
It’s me, Aston Merrygold and Louis Smith dancing to 1960s music. It’s a live band, us three and eight professional dancers. Aston does some singing, I do some drumming and Louis does some gymnastic tricks. I do four ballroom numbers and some commercial dances.
Can you remember how to dance?
I can remember the ballroom stuff but I’ve never done the commercial stuff before and I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s been brutal. I’ve been dancing from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, for three weeks preparing for this. I’ve struggled at times but I’m getting there.
What impact did winning Strictly have on your career?
I’d been in McFly for eight years at that point. Doing a show like that wasn’t on my radar but it seemed a good challenge. I didn’t know much about it before. It was nice to have people coming up to me in shops congratulating me on it. The positive outcome was it gave me confidence as a performer — I’d been at the back on the drums before that. Being out on my own was scary and to go all the way and win it was an amazing experience. The main thing was I learned to dance and I can now do shows like Rip It Up.
Why did you have a stint doing underwear shoots for gay magazines?
The first one we did as a band then they asked me to do one on my own and then asked me back again. I was just grateful I kept getting asked and I went with it.
Were you concerned people would start thinking of you as an underwear model rather than a drummer?
I understand what you mean, and part of me looks back and thinks it was slight overkill, but I was in a band for a long time and I’d done Strictly so I’m not just known for that. I was just honoured to be asked.
How has fatherhood changed you?
When I get stressed or overwhelmed I just think that the main thing that matters to me in life is my family. They just make me happy. It’s also motivated me to work harder so I can provide them with a good life.
What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?
Just to be confident in my convictions and not to be too sensitive. When you put yourself out there you have to accept some people will criticise you and they won’t enjoy what you’re doing. So just do your best, work hard and enjoy yourself.
Judd is working with Philips as part of its Many Faces campaign, philips.co.uk
For Rip It Up on tour, see ripituptheshow.com