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Mishcon Academy: Digital Sessions - In conversation with Jay McGuiness from the Wanted

Posted on 9 February 2024

In January, Jay McGuiness spoke to Trainee Solicitor, Agatha Hunt about his new book, Blood Flowers, which is described as a story of love, witchcraft, betrayal, and murder. Jay McGuiness is a singer, songwriter and actor best known as a vocalist with boy band The Wanted. In 2015, he partnered with Aliona Vilani and won the 13th series of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

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Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor
So today’s test, once crowned PETA’s sexiest vegetarian alongside Zendaya, perhaps today’s Academy’s guest is best identified through his other professional accomplishments.  After leaving the Midlands Academy for Dance and Drama, Jay forged a successful music career on both sides of the Atlantic with chart topping boy band, The Wanted.  In 2015 he lifted the Strictly Come Dancing Glitter Ball alongside Aliona Vilani and since 2018 has been flexing his skills on stage with Big, Sleepless, White Christmas and is currently appearing as Ben on stage in 2:22 A Ghost Story on a UK Tour.  Jay McGuiness everyone.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor
Thank you, thank you and thanks for a lovely intro.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor
You’re welcome.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor
It was really nice to hear.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor
So today you’re here because you are adding author to the end of singer, actor, dancer for your latest pursuit.  The book that we have before us today and everyone in the room is holding, a fantasy novel aimed at young adults although after having read it myself I’d say there’s no upper age limit; Blood Flowers.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

That’s right.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

It’s a twisting tail, it touches on themes of privilege, power, class divide and addiction and like many great fantasy novels what’s really important is the setting and location so what a better place to start.  The characters that we meet in the book, their identities are all built through where they come from.  You learn about their places through their stories and anecdotes and their emotional connections and you feel their sense of identity through their home and where they feel or are told they belong.  Jay, can you introduce us to the town of Calliston and tell us a bit about the process of building this world that you’ve made?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah, so Calliston is definitely an amalgamation of every sort of quiet market town across the UK.  I’m from a town called Newark on Trent which is 1 hour twenty on the train to Kings Cross and I actually when I started writing a book, people asked me if it was characters or setting or plot that I thought of first and the immediate start in my mind was the setting and I think like over, especially after your intro I just think that over the course of my life I’ve seen and experienced like far more than I ever thought that I would and, and maybe as much as I hoped that I would as a kid but there was as a child, I remember just constantly thinking about like going even into Nottingham was a really big thing, like ‘oh my god I’m going to Nottingham amazing’ and like hearing that my friends went to London, like ‘I’m going to go to London one day’ and then like you know, some of my friends went on like holidays abroad and that was just like mind blowing so that feeling of like being, being somewhere and at the start of any story I guess if you start an adventure in a small sort of run down place but I always felt like I was looking at like other amazing, exciting things happen and I never appreciated how exciting it was to live in a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business and I am from a big family and there was 7 of us and my dad has 6 siblings and my mum has 5, 4 and I was just constantly surrounded by my siblings and aunties and cousins and we were all on top of each other and I remember just feeling like, I also felt like weird.  I always felt like um, the book explores a lot of um, sort of alcohol issue related things and I always found that the pub was really exciting as a kid.  A magical place that all the parents drink and then they dance and they shout and sing.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

But then also it got a little bit scary and I was like ‘uh’ and felt like adults that had drank too much can be quite like imposing on a young kid…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and I just remember that feeling of just sort of feeling like trapped in some way um so we, I started with Calliston as this sort of run down little market town and that feeling of being in a community but wanting to see the outside world and when you did that intro I thought, yeah I basically have you know, blown open any sort of box that I felt that I was in as a kid and when I’ve gone around and met all you know, different kinds of people, I found that actually the most rewarding and exciting and meaningful place to be is home you know?

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

That’s it.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

And home for…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Excuse me waffling, I will waffle continuously.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

No, it’s your passion, we want to hear about it from you.  How did it, how was that process did you find taking it from your mind’s eye, from your own personal experiences all the way to actually creating these fantasy characters, putting it in a different world and then putting it on the paper so someone else could read it and put it into their mind’s eye?  Was it as easy as you expected that process?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

The process of, of writing it felt just like the most nice relief. By just getting it out.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Really.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

And also after years of like being in a band and then doing plays and stuff, I felt like I was using my brain in a way that I hadn’t used since school and it was so rewarding and also like, I was like, oh my god I can feel my limits.  I can feel I was better at this you know, I was challenging myself.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

But year it just, I guess it was I felt full of thoughts and feelings and just kept getting them out, I think the hard thing is this stuff.  This is roughly my third conversation probably about the book and the fact that you’ve read it is such an amazing, weird feeling and relief and um, hearing you describe it is still is a new and weird feeling for me but describing it is, is the hardest thing.  Making it was pretty, it felt like, I’ve got two more in me at least.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah you can really tell that so I have a copy, the previous like proof copy of the book and I thumbed it, I read it, I am one of those horrible people that bends the spine of books…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Work your book.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

…and um yeah you can definitely feel that you’ve created this world but there’s, there’s more stories to be told in it.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Which is very exciting.  Was that intentional?  Did you always start out with wanting to write more books?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

All my favourite fantasy books, there are 15 of them.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and it’s not just about like um, like you go and watch a movie and it’s like boom, I want to get the release right now.  Like especially lots of those longer fantasy series, it’s all about spending time in that world and eeking out even more discoveries and then a character that you might like in book one you might hate by book two or that you are just bored by in book one, by book six you are like, oh no after everything they’ve been through because you spend time with them.  So I think I really put my heart into creating a world that felt like my, how I view my world and then the characters are just on the start of their journey you know?

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

That’s how I feel about this one.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah you really feel that these are like real characters, they have wants, their values change throughout the book so they realise what’s important to them.  There’s a really nice, so one of the themes in the book is class divide and privilege and there’s a really nice part of the book um where Bear, whose the main character is speaking to his friend, Felix who we meet quite early on in the book um and they’re looking up to the sort of more important people in the town, the people that live on this place called Roof Side and they say, ‘Do you think the roof sider’s think much about us?’ and Felix says back to him, ‘Sometimes we see them looking down don’t we, they probably look down the same amount that we look up’.  Was it a really deliberate thing for you to grey the lines of class divide and play on those classic quotes and…?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah I think that I felt very strongly as a kid, I didn’t feel like we didn’t have anything, I felt like perfectly happy but I knew that there were people that went on holidays and had new cars and I remember my mum always saying like, don’t worry because we don’t have a credit card’ like we pay everything with our money you know and I remember just thinking about that and thinking maybe one day I’ll have a whatever, I had ambition in some way and then you know, as you are a teenager you get quite angsty and I remember like feeling really sort of anti-rich people because I’m desperately trying to like succeed.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Um, and I think I had a big chip on my shoulder, I think a lot of people that are working class struggle to sort of let go of that chip um and then over the years I’ve met some people that completely confirmed all my fears about what really wealthy people would be like.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Uh huh.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

And some that completely obliterated it and I find that there are wonderful, talented, hardworking people that were born with extreme privilege and there are also greedy, selfish, mean, small minded ones just the same as how I found people in my home town.  There was people with nothing that were arrogant and proud and bullies...

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and there were people with nothing that were generous and open hearted.  I found behind the curtain it’s the same thing looking back at you um and I think maybe over time like my chip has sort of softened and transformed and I just view every human as they come and I guess we all start in different parts of the race but twattery is across the board you know.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)  Yeah I think probably everyone knows a few people though that are described that way.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

(laughs)

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Um and you do see that in the characters about what, who they’re trying to serve throughout the book changes whether it’s their own means or other people’s means or you think they’re doing something for other people but actually you see that eventual purpose is something quite different.  Was it important for you to sort of trick the reader and lead us down one path and then bring us back?  Is that something that you’d enjoyed in other fantasy novels that you’d read and was it deliberate?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yes so I read so much really conventional fantasy and I really, really loved it and still love and so because of that like I, I want to and have I think made a very sort of traditional and I leaned really hard into tropes, there’s like evil queens and good kid and bad kid and all that stuff is so, so familiar but if you only have that, if you only have stereotypes and tropes I think that you kind of might put the book down and go, huh why did I read that, I’ve read that story a thousand times.  So I was trying to write it in a way that is constantly needing you to believe one thing and then you know, those last few chapters you know, I’ve had a few moments in my life where my head’s been completely twisted around by just a sentence that someone says and all of my like sort of preconceived notions about them were wrong…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…for better or worse and both, I found myself constantly surprised by people, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse and I, I think because I feel that, I feel like I am not a good judge of character sometimes.  I definitely wanted the reader to feel that way.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Just sometimes you’re, like sometimes you’re like, ah I never see your good qualities and sometimes you are like, betrayal after all these years…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…you know so I wanted to feel, I wanted to feel that because everyone thinks they have good intuition because the energy you get when you get from someone you think, yeah I’m right.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah, we must trust ourselves, yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

My gut’s telling me, my gut’s and I’m just completely wrong, I hate that.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)  Yeah it really like makes you not trust yourself but you have to when you are meeting people and um, introducing them to you.  One of the traits that you do go into this book and it’s throughout the book and we are introduced to it very, very early on is addiction.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Uh huh.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

The people that live in this world, they all drink this thing called Ruby Brew but it’s never dealt within like a negative way, it’s just accepted um, do you think for you it was important to take something that people could have criti… like you could have easily been very critical about it but you just pitter-pattered it throughout the book and people question it but in a way that they just accept that it’s never really going to change.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.  Well I think that I mean, so Ruby Brew is clearly like a magical version of alcohol.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

And I across the UK especially, and Ireland we, alcohol is sort of embedded in our culture and that goes from weddings, christenings, funerals, it’s kind of always there in the background for most, for a lot of people.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I think it’s like decreasing over time and I am happy that’s the case but like I said, I remember as a kid thinking it was like this sort of golden chalice and like when you’re old enough you go to clubs and you drink and you know like I remember as a kid pretending to cheers with water and I remember…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…pretending to be drunk when I had like…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Apple juice for beer.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…stupid but I think that I don’t ever want to make any moral judgments on that because like some people just drink from the day they are born to the day they die and I think that because we’re quite a repressed culture, alcohol has become a tool across the board for people to connect and it allows people that are shy or insecure to be the funniest most engaged person in the room and like, that sort of lad with his top going  like, yeah come on, probably inside is like, everyone likes me, you know, that’s it…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and I feel like if, if it becomes a tool that we use because we don’t have nice sunny days that make us want to go and be free.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Just like freezing cold in a pub like that was a hard day at work.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

It is January after all yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah, but I do, I do think it seeps into, into people’s life and I think that it is so easy for it to sort of take away the thing that makes them really special and they feel like they can only be special if they are drinking and, I remember certainly during the end of The Wanted, um like I was drinking a lot on stage and that sort of stuck with me for a while and I think it was, it was because I was like stressed and unhappy and meeting a million, million people…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and to for me to feel like I, I was being a good person and an interesting person I would just be drinking, I was like why am I opening cans before, before I am going to go and like do a meet and greet.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Like that’s uncool. I can definitely be me without this and thankfully that’s something that I’ve been able to sort of kick away.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I learnt from it but I think, I still see it all across my life and all across the country.  I, I you know, I’ve got an interesting relationship with it like I am definitely sober curious.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

This really interesting podcast with a guy called Dr Alex, I forget his last name.  It’s called um Stomp Cast where you go on a high chat…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Oh yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and he’s just been sober for a year.  He was like, it sounds like you are probably sober curious.  Yeah maybe I am.  I think that, I think that the book is exploring those themes because they are themes that are sort of floating in my mind.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Audience member

They are still in my life, they are all across my family, all across my friendship groups, all across the industry that I work in you know like now it is my very first play without any singing or dancing so I am meeting like proper actors, actors are nuts by the way um but you meet some actors that are like in their 60’s and you think, whoa you have just been hammering it for 60 years you know.  So yeah I think I am just exploring themes that are just really present in my life.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah in a culture of what you stepped into and also where you grew up and things like that.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah and, and I don’t really have a judgment on it, I just feel like, I just feel a lot of compassion for people that have struggles and I feel a lot of admiration for people who get over them and I also have to sort of take a step back and go sometimes it’s not that serious it’s just a fun tool and woo hoo you know.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.  Was it quite cathartic writing the book then because there’s a lot of things that feel very personal but also have just been ruminating around in your mind?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I think so, I think like any, I think any creation, anything that isn’t like organising or you know just sort of doing like hard leg work, any creation is like a way to express yourself isn’t it so writing a song is I think more rewarding than singing a song.  Singing a song is rewarding because I guess your interpretation, your emotion that you put into it. I really hate listening to singers that just, that are just technical, that are just technically experts and it’s like I’d rather that you were doing all the sort of mental flips and gymnastics but that it’s costing you something to express it you know.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

So I think yeah maybe any expression is cathartic, any connection even if that person like reads it years after I am dead.  The idea that someone read it and goes, oh I feel that way as well, feels nice

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

You can share that with someone who you might never meet.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

A weirdly distant social monkey.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I need that connection but maybe one step removed.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah in like a very weird way you pass it along.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Um, talking about creations and connections maybe we can move on to talking about The Wanted.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah, love to.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Um, obviously we all know you were in The Wanted for a number of years, you did arena tours, you made it in the US, you had chart topping hits in the UK.  Is there a highlight for you?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Oh my god yeah, there’s a million.  Let me, so someone said to me like when someone asks you your favourite movie, don’t panic, you don’t have to name your favourite movie forever, they just trying to get to know so just pick one that you like and talk about it.  So I’ve got a million favourite memories and what would I pick today?  Um, I’d probably, one of my favourites is being on the tour bus and um, it’s, this is totally crass but it just generally comes to my mind and makes me feel happy, Tom um, you are not allowed to poo on a tour bus because the bus driver has to like go and empty the tank.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

So boys only pee, because there are only boys on the tour.  Boys pee in the toilet and we have to stop for poops.  So Tom was desperate um, my band mate and had to go so he put a plastic bag in the toilet and then did it in there and then chased our tour manager with that bag and it’s so gross, so funny um, you know already, Tom’s passed away, that memory now makes me feel so happy that he did those silly things.  Oh an even grosser one, sorry I’m going to tell it.  Um I have drunk an entire beer bottle that I thought was beer but it was his piss.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

No.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I am so sorry about this but I’m just going to carry on.  So this is the way it happened.  I was desperate for a pee before we went on stage, I think we were in Oklahoma, somewhere like that.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Oh wow.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

And I, I sorry I am just going to have to go because I want to get it out.  But it was another one of my favourite memories.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I peed into like a little water bottle and it was just solidly clear and I was like, wait I’m hydrated.  Tom accidentally drank it on stage during the performance and then sprayed it out and was like, that’s bloody piss, who’s pissed in that?  Joy of joys, later that night were on the same tour as Carly Rae Jackson who had the hit ‘Hey I just Met You’.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

So I was stood in a little circle chatting to her sister who was just a really charismatic, cool girl just hanging out with her super famous sister.  So we were just stood round at the end of like, pitch black by the tour buses drinking bears and everyone in my mind, everyone thought I was so funny, every single thing I said, everyone was dying laughing.  At the end of me beer, Tom went, did you enjoy that beer? And I was like why and he said, you just drank a bottle of my piss.  So he got me back by giving me one of those and I was drunk enough that I didn’t notice.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

And now I just think, wow, like that is one of my also gross favourite memories of him because we really lived a gross, fun like together and it’s an honour to have drunk his beer bottle of wee.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

For everyone at home I am so sorry, I bet you all logged off.  In the room, we’re in this together. (laughs)

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)  A bit of a wild time.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Good memories.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah we were young idiots you know.  It was fun.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Being young and that age and living in such a, and building a career in such a weird environment, did you have any mentors that you went to and things like?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah I mean, I think across the board I’ve always had like um, like multi-generational friends.  As a kid like we all hung out with our uncles and aunties but we had a really close relationship with our managers across the, across the years and even like as we toured a lot of the like sound engineers, I am still really close to my sound engineer Drew and his wife and their now grown up kids came to watch me in a play and I think it’s so funny my manager, Damian and me are literally like bezy mates for life and er, he’s now currently making a new boy band, a little foetal boy band that are between 17 and 18 and that sort of relationship is like so, so funny because I found myself rotated like a generation older and as a kid you know I remember just sort of chatting to my uncles and aunties and, and not, at the time I didn’t realise how endlessly in love with me they were even though I was just saying stupid stuff and now I’ve got my nieces and nephews and these boys, that Damian’s sort of like mentoring now, I feel so defensive about them being okay…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and protective of them and I just get so much enjoyment seeing them, five guys just sort of like starting this journey doing a school’s tour hoping they make it.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I’m now, I remember we met Lee Ryan who was in a boy band, Blue when we were starting and we were like telling our family, I met Lee Ryan from Blue and now I’m Lee Ryan. 

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Sort of meeting them and they’re, some washed up dude said hello to us today.  So yeah, I felt like those mentor relationships have been massive for me, they are ones that last longer than peers, peers kind of zip around you know um, I think that’s the end of my answer.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.  Cool.  And this new boy band that you made reference to…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

…are they going through the same issues, highs, lows that you and the boys went through when starting out The Wanted?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

You talked about a school tour which you guys did.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Is it the same in 2024 as it was?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

It’s so similar aside from, aside from like I think we were probably like a bit, maybe a bit more wild, like messily but I do think that kids drink less and they’re focussed on looking really good.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Which can be a positive and a negative um but yeah like they’re on their school tour and they are arguing about their hotel rooms and they’re all about to move into a house and they’re going to have big arguments about the bedroom but I know they are going to have the time of their life in there. I remember the school tour being particularly exhausting because we were doing a club tour as well which I don’t think they’re doing.  So we’d do like two schools in a day and meet like 500 absolutely nuts kids that were like, ahhhhh um and then, and then in the night we would just go into these really dinky clubs and we’d sing and we’d have bottles thrown at us and singing like, imagine just like dancing around and someone comes on and sings an unreleased song.  Just put the music back on.  But those times that we were really tired and really young, I look back, even when we got really big and we were doing like award shows and being in America we thought that was so cool.  We ended up being so proud that we’d put the graft in you know.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

We did those early mornings and late nights and yeah they are in that and they are having a very similar experience apart from I think not to dig on our old managers, I think they’ve got a way better manager.  I think he’s just way more with it.  Our, our management loved us but they were quite parental.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Okay.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Um and that was positive and negative.  Damian is really, really caring but he’s also able to like snap them out of their like sort of teenage um, er what would I call it, teenage nonsense.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Give them some perspective maybe.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah, just say like, oy sit up straight, look sharp, you’ve got a job to do.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Keep grounded.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah exactly that and he expects them, he expects them to do really well because he wants them to work hard and show how good they are you know.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I can see that really clearly now on the other side and I hear him just like pulling his hair out on the phone to them.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)  And you and the boys lived in a house together at the start…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

That’s right.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

…of your career as The Wanted.  How did you keep grounded when you were all together and like hyping each other up and it started moving from school tours to hordes of girls outside your tour bus and things like that?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Well I mean it was so exciting that sometimes we did just have, you know when people say like, oh I just need to go out and have a blowout.  I never got that, I thought that was nuts but then when I look back I know that’s what we were doing.  So if you do that really early to be on like GMTV and sing a club track at 8 in the morning, um but you are up at 5 to get there or whatever, then like you’re in like a photoshoot and then you’ll meet like a 1,000 people and you have so smile and be charming and make a real connection with them or I personally liked to, I guess you kind of feel like, next but I, it was draining and then that night I don’t know how we had the energy, we were like, let’s go out.  So we’d go and just party and party but in those, in those quiet moments that we were all just like laying in our house like, shall we order pizza and just chatting about how we feel and moaning about our management or the record label.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

In those quiet moments where you just get to be siblings like, it’s when you see the sort of quality of someone you know, if they really are like, okay guys let’s clean up, let’s have a proper dinner.  They are like some of my nice memories too.  Um, I don’t know if that, I guess we were, because we were all from working class backgrounds I guess we did think we’d won a golden ticket but very quickly realised like, this immense pressure driving you, like if you didn’t get a number 1 like, after a song went to number 1, our next one went to number 2 and we were devastated which is just nuts but you then, you’ve got this sort of pressure, this drive to prove there’s a reason why you are there.  So maybe that, I think ambition made us calm down sometimes.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah, and pulled you together in the same direction.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah and were there things that you really didn’t expect?  You’d had a theatre background and some sort of training, you didn’t just come straight from any school but was there anything and you were like wow, I never expected this is what life in a boy band would be like?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah I mean, I think all the sort of hard worky stuff I expected and I enjoyed it if I am honest.  Like doing interviews, even if it was a whole day of interviews that would be set up like this, and then it would be everyone here would be a journalist and then it would be an hour of talking and then they’d rotate new ones.  Especially when we started touring the world because there were so many media outlets to try and cover.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

But I enjoyed all of that.  I think what I learnt or didn’t expect was when you’re, when you’re singing or whatever your sort of fame takes you, there’s a certain element that is like you are selling your um, your personality especially with a boy band. I think like I remember we once went to a maybe quite topical because we got to see Princess Diana earlier, we went to a royal, I won’t say which royal, so royal’s apartments.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

They met us in a club and we went back to their apartments and I remember thinking, wow this is crazy and it was so much fun and they were really lovely but then I started thinking about their perspective and I remember thinking, we’re their entertainment like they are probably quite bored and they’ve just met us and brought us home and we’re all like from Bolton, Nottingham, Manchester, Ireland, Gloucester and they’re like meeting normal people and we got this ticket to meet proper like, wealth people you know.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

And I remember over the years there’s been a few times that I’ve thought, oh wow like we’re just here for um, not for like music right now.  We’re not for a performance but just they want to be around us to see how we are you know.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

It is so weird, what a weird feeling that was.  There’s been a few times like that.  There’s another family in America that I ended up sort of knowing and every time I meet them I feel myself becoming fake and I’ll meet them and say like, great t-shirt.  Shut up it’s not just a t-shirt.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

But, but they are from such generational wealth.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Like it’s like a gravity, like you would go into a room and they are, they are, everyone is sort of focussed on them and you feel that like, I am just here to show you what humans do, you know, that’s something I never expected.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

But you’ve probably…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Which to some people that I’m…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

…yeah you’re that person in the room.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…some do.  Yeah, it’s weird.  That, that sort of constant flipping from I’m with or I’m without or I’m, it’s just I don’t know.  It’s stuck in my head I guess.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah, a weird way to…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Live your life?

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

…live your life. Yes.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Is this therapy?

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)  Um, another sparkly part of your life was your time on Strictly after The Wanted.  Um you won in 2015, you beat two soap stars in the final.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor
That’s right.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

You beat Peter Andre, Jamilia, Jeremy Vine and how dare you beat Carol Kirkwood.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

(laughs)  I loved her.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

So you iconically jived to the song from Pulp Fiction dressed as Vincent Vega, John Travolta’s character.  That’s when you got an Amazing from Craig Revel Horwood. Is that one of the highlights?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah it really was amazing like um, I think it was week 3 and our rehearsals were going okay but um I often like had like sort of binary like really good or really bad like things go wrong and then I sort of fall apart um in the rehearsal for that it just went badly, I think like my hair was being like they were sticking in um like a fake ponytail because Vince Vega has like a ponytail.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I just remember looking back at the video and being like, oh this is going to be a bad one but everything went really well. I think the music was so cool, costumes were cool, the film was cool…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and um I remember as it finished and like everyone was clapping it was so loud and like I just remembered like the light being there and Tess sort of like wagging us over and like I had this sort of intense like semi out of body experience.  I was like it was so loud like I can’t really process what’s going on.  I felt high like literally high like, what’s happening and I remember watching back and sort of seeing that like I was stunned.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor
But it is such a burnt memory in my head like of all the Strictly experiences, I remember random moments in rehearsal but of all the like the big day dates I’ve forgotten a lot of it.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

But that moment I remember that even my brain going, you feel weird.  I was like I feel good but I felt odd but it was such an amazing feeling.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah it’s such a way to get that memory imprinted on you…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah, yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

…and um and did you enjoy the sparkle and the kind of change from wild boy band life, I assumed no one pissed in a beer bottle during Strictly.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

No.  Actually I do have a toilet story though.  Um, I’ll leave that for later.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Um, yeah what I really enjoyed about that was it was really understandable.  So even though it was a big scary day approaching at the end of the week…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…it was like all week you can rehearse as long as you want, I think we did about 9 hours a day which was like on the upper end and some people had kids and at the same time sucks for them, I did feel bad but um, you would just go in and learn this thing and like look at yourself in the mirror and move your arm and like look happy to be there but then this day approaches and you know it’s going to be nuts and like there’s just all kinds of people flapping around, like getting spray tanned and costume and it was so nerve wracking like I have kind of forgotten how scared I used to get but especially the first time doing something without the boys.  I kind of avoided doing anything like for two years and Damian called me when I was with my band mate Steven, come on bird, Strictly have called, you’ve done dancing before like it’s time.  So I got on a flight and thank god you did call me Damian, thanks for that um but yeah I remember that feeling coming and I would shake because I just felt like so keenly that people were watching and they could dislike the dance or me personally and I really didn’t speak very much at all and I think that went in my favour. A  lot of people were like, oh what a nice man’ it was like, I am just so scared I can’t talk, if I did I’d be talking about poo by now you know so, so…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…I remember that feeling coming and being excited but I was so terrified that like, I don’t know I felt so much pressure and then with Strictly comes the, for me the most amount of like press and articles…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…than I’d ever experienced and my bandmate Max was always really like that quite pressed, um I don’t know what the word is, engaged with that.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah, exactly.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

His relation… well not that he drove it but really good looking guy, dating really good looking girls, tends to draw that sort of focus.  It meant that when he was having a good time he was talked about and when he was having a really bad time, that was talked about too and I’d never been, I’d always been like random curly duded number two.  So suddenly that happening was like quite jarring…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…but also so, so exciting, you are like, oh my god have you seen this and I’ve got my family texting me like, is this true, I am like, no but funny and that was something I didn’t really expect but I, I did look forward to the end of the week.  I just wanted to dance first so that I could enjoy the night.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Waiting to the end was horrible because the whole time you are just thinking about your own stuff.

 

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Exactly yeah.  You always kind of want to go up first I think maybe yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah, yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Um, do you think in that whirlwind of like media outlets talking about you and things like that, did you um like, how did you balance work and life because doesn’t dancing on a Saturday night become work or is that life?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I think that that sort of blend between um am I enjoying this and it’s actually really fun and oh wait, I like my job and then it being in the media is weird.  I think like I am sure all of you are so fulfilled like where you are right now, like you’re here for a reason mostly I hope and you are like this is my life, like work is in a way my life but I think that things like it being in the press, so Saturday we would film the Saturday and the Sunday show together and Sunday’s would be off and at the end of the Saturday show we’d go to this really small local pub called Tir Na Nog in Wandsworth which is like a really old Irish, run by an Irish couple called Mary, like sort of old man pub…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and we’d go there and after a week or two of everyone would be like, oh from Strictly, I mean they knew I live nearby but they didn’t, they’d never met Aliona or anything.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

So after a few weeks of everyone being excited that we’d be there, it was just like we’d go to our local pub and my twin brother and his Mrs, we all live together, so we’d all just go in and like, I remember one time they put on a buffet for us and my dad was there and they had like, I don’t want to slag the buffet but, the prawns were swimming in water and we were like this, oh this is so grotty but it felt nice just to feel like we were back home like somewhere that wasn’t…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…you know, people going out into London for like, oh we’re the Strictly crowd, we never did that we just went to the pub and I remember my brother looking at the prawns and went, they are vile, who’s going to eat them.  My dad goes straight in, good that.  Yeah just doing like homely things.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…but also so, so exciting, you are like, oh my god have you seen this and I’ve got my family texting me like, is this true, I am like, no but funny and that was something I didn’t really expect but I, I did look forward to the end of the week.  I just wanted to dance first so that I could enjoy the night.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah
Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

That was fun.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Having the balance of…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I feel, I feel in quite swanky places quite like a fraud so I don’t really go to them anyway, that sort of thing.  Greggs is my jam.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)  When you are in the swanky places, do you ever get star struck.  Because people get star struck by you.  There are so many teenage girls or were teenage girls that would have been obsessed with just a glimpse of you.  Are there people that you had a sort of…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I’ve got one for you.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

…yeah, go on.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

So I met Zoe Saldana whose like a Columbian I think actress, American Columbian.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

And she played like Neytiri in Avatar and in Colombiana, anyway and she was also in Star Trek, anyway, total like world class beauty like, just obsessed with her, loved her and we were um what was it, I think it was something like Golden Globes or some sort of big American award show, she was there.  All the boys were there knew that I really liked her and so, we’re there, we all sort of swoop and go towards her and of course it’s about alcohol idiot um, she went up to us and I said something like, oh can I get you a drink, but it was a free bar, that was my funny joke and she said to me, are you old enough to drink and then, and then I said like some witty remark back…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…off she goes into the universe and I was like amazing, amazing and Siva looked at me and said, what the hell did you just say?  What do you mean, and he was like she said, do you drink and you were like, I drink all the time…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…yeah and he was like, what are you are on about and I was like, oh did I say that and I think I repeated myself, I drink, I drink just awful.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

But I was just like amazed by her, you know, really just stood like, oh my god she’s tiny, so small.  Everyone in Hollywood is tiny.  But yeah, that’s, that’s like a great memory.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.  See everyone gets star struck, even the people we get star struck by.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Many times.  The Beckhams, oh my god.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Really?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.  We um, we went and performed… did we perform?  No, we just went to Romeo’s, I don’t know what birthday it was and had this like go kart adventure, he was a young boy.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

He liked our songs, we got him a guitar, signed it and…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Wow.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…just like being on a go kart track, it was only like 10 LA families there.  It was so funny, Victoria was hilarious but the whole time you, you’re not yourself.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Say things…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Be interesting.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah and so now you’re onto shows?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

That’s right.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

You’re play Ben in 2:22.  Um you’re returning to your roots having been trained in theatre when you were at school.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

That’s right.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Um is touring theatre different to touring with the band?  Do you miss the boys?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Oh my god I miss the boys every day.  Max sent a text to me this week and all the boys have said, um we need to make sure we talk at least once a month, I miss you guys and I was like, yeah we will, we’ve been bad recently but um touring in theatre in general is so different because it’s… touring with The Wanted was really demanding.  There was also a certain amount of play that you can do because you know, if you did not sing your bit and do some funny move, the girls are like, wahoo you’re so funny or like whatever it is.  With theatre you just have to be on it, you just have to you know, be at the right time, right lines, right attitude um we’ve had a really fun rehearsal but I got a really nice comment from the director who said, I really like directing pop music people, she said, she direct Cheryl Cole in the same play, 2:22 and then Frankie Bridge who like came in as a last minute replacement for someone that was ill…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and she said, you are just so cooperative and open-minded and I feel nice knowing that.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

That like compared to real actors as I think of them um, that I am doing the right thing.  It is so rewarding like going up and just sort of you’ve got to be really pacey because the scripts really naturalistic, it’s got to sound like people talking over each other at this dinner party…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and when it’s really pacey the reactions are so tight from the audience, it’s, it’s not just scary it’s meant to be really funny and you can feel when it just goes really smoothly and my other bandmate, Siva, he’s just done a tour which La Bamba Musical…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…and he really enjoyed it and he sang amazing and looked amazing but he said that, it’s not for me, like he doesn’t, he was like it was just so exhausting, it was the same thing every day.  I am more than happy to do the same thing every day like I feel like, new, new things like to play with and like improve or what it is that I can sit at a computer for hours, I can like garden for hours and make sure a hedge is perfectly lined up.  Theatre is that sort of satisfaction for me.  I want to do it.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

 

I think it’s a really good show.  The next day I am not like I’ve done it, I can do it again, I can do it more different…
Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Do it better.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…so I can do it, if possible Damian, rest of my life, we’ll write a book a year and a theatre a year, that’ll be great.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)  Stick with it.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

That sounds like a good plan and if the book and the theatre ever come together say Blood Flowers made it to a stage production…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Oh my gosh.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

…what would be your most favourite thing to see come to life on stage?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Oh my gosh.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

From the book?  With no spoilers.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Okay so I, I heard, I never saw it but I heard about Lord of the Rings the musical.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Mm.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

It was insanely expensive and they put like so many resources into it and I just saw clips that were like a mountain that moves and these, the orcs wearing like those power risers that sort of make people bounce.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

And running up and one of them like, I don’t know if he passed away but was really injured, it was all over the theatre news and then like Galadriel the like sort of blonde haired um elf, which is this like beautiful gold woman in like these golden tree structures, I think the physical world of Calliston.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

The, the way the, the lowest people live on the cobbled floors and then the next you know, slightly richer live above and then the like beautiful…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

It’s really visual yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah I would love to see the structure built in the theatre.  I love the idea that as the mountain in the Lord of the Rings, as they climbed the mountain really they were just sort of tumbling the set down.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

So they have got this great expanse, I would love to see set moving as you go down into the sort of damp depths of the town then up into the sort of sun lit top.  I would love to visually see that.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Weird to think about. Come on universe, come on.  Wow what a question, that’s exciting.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah and of all the things you’ve done, if you could re-live a life, writing a book, be in a theatre show, being in The Wanted or do another week of Strictly?  Which would you chose?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Um, that’s a really hard question.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

If you had a time machine.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I think, I think, okay I’ll do that thing where I don’t have to do the right answer, I just answer the question.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah, just…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

I think I would, right now I would pick, did you ever watch the TV show, Hunted where you sort of runaway from police?

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

So they did like a celebrity version and me and my band mate, Siva were together for two weeks on the run, it was the most freeing feeling every because the BBC can quite strict with like sort of rules and make sure everything is signed which I think’s fair because you know, taxpayer’s money but Channel 4, like off the record someone said to me, Jay so here’s the thing like you are going to be running across farms and fields and technically trespassing is illegal, we don’t want to encourage anything like that, always be safe but like do whatever you need to do to get out and we have, ah we have very good lawyers.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

He actually said that, he said just sort of be safe, don’t be silly but if you need to like jump through a window and whatever just go for it, you are free to do whatever you please um and we did.  We like hitch hiked all the way round, the first week we were in Scotland, it was so fun and like 10 seconds of it made it into the edit of the show but we were like just wild man, it was so much fun.  I would do that again.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Again, on the run?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah it was just so… and there’s a similar show that me and Damian just watched that Harry Judge was in, the Amazing Race.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Oh yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

He went across like Europe with his mum.  Anything like that, that would just, who would think you’d do that.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Well it wasn’t a job but it was an experience.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah, getting away from things and having legal people to protect you.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

(laughs)  Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Um so that brings me to the end of my questions and so…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Thank you.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

…does anyone, and we’ll start in the room, does anyone in the room have any questions for Jay?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Thank you.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

There’s a microphone coming.

Audience

Hiya, um I hope I speak for everyone here when I say I really just want to hear the Strictly toilet story.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

(laughs)  Okay I’ve got you.  Um so it was the very first show, I won’t go too far.  It was the very first show and it was like maybe one or two minutes before they were about to start filming and me, this is the fun about Strictly, you’ve got all the people you meet, me, Peter Andre and Ainsley Harriot were the only three that needed the toilet.  So, so some lovely like stage hand, that’s the wrong word but you know what I mean, grabbed us and ran us quickly to the toilet.  So me and Ainsley Harriot were standing at the urinal and away we go um, which was an experience in itself but Peter zoomed straight into the cubicle and we hear the most unholy noise ever and, and at the point Ainsley and me look at each other like this.  He just went, sorry guys I’m nervous and it was so much fun and then we had to like run back and I was like trying to tell everyone, oh my god guess what just happened in the toilet and like ‘ACTION’ and we were like okay.  That was the toilet story and that was my first like live week so that was just fun to tell everyone.  I am such a gossip, I tell everyone, everything.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Thanks for asking.  I feel so validated.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)  Another question.

Audience

Hi so I was going to say um, you’ve obviously been in a band where you’ve been able to bounce ideas off people and again in um stage shows you’ve got a company where director you can float ideas.  How was writing a book on your own and having yourself um, to write, the process of doing it on your own, your own ideas and maybe you did have a team to sort of speak about ideas or tropes or things like that but how was that process of doing something solidly on your own?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah so I thought it was thinking about it in two parts; the first part being the first draft which is entirely what you are describing.  It is me sort of having a conversation with myself, I am trying to trick myself and entertain myself because if I was reading it I would want to be entertained and tricked um and I love it.  I remember I went to the library once with a friend who, who had a sort of similar job to what you guys are, have um and she said, ah I’ve never seen someone just – and this is why I know that I like to focus on things – she said, I have never seen someone sit at a laptop for 8 hours and not move for the toilet or a snack or anything, I was just and I realised yeah I just put music in and um so I really enjoyed it.  It felt like, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything especially profound or learning new things, I was just sort of playing a game in my head and then when it became collaborative is after the first draft, I would then have an editor come and that was so joyful to be doing the same thing I’d already done because I like repeating and to have these notes in the margins and my, my editor’s changed a few times but I remember one was Jen and I would just always see a little red thing which would say Jen and I would click it and then she’d have some thoughts and I was like, oh she’s read it and she thinks it could be like this and she thinks that and it was just like, it was delightful.  I wrote a little thank you to her and just said like, I don’t if I’ve, I, well I, I have never met her, I don’t know if she received the message but I was just like, thanks for being there in the margin it was so fun and has anyone ever seen the movie, ‘Her’ with um, what’s her name, Scarlett Johansson.  So she has like a sort of um, um Joaquin Phoenix is this dude who has like a little iPhone and she’s his like the voice of his little system like Siri and of course he just falls in love with her straight away and it was quite dark but I am just sort of, I didn’t fall in love with Jen…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

….but every time she spoke I was just like, she’s the best, she has the best ideas, she like’s my hair-dos you know like, it was a joy to take it from solo to connection.  I really do waffle, sorry.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

I think it’s a nice reminder of all of us drafting things sometimes and someone gets a red pen out, you get a bit fearful but thank you for being there in the margins, it’s quite nice, it becomes a collaborative…

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah, you never know, they might have a little crush on you.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

(laughs)

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

I’ve got um, on the theme of the book so I’ll ask this question from online.  Thanks Chris for your question.  Are there any specific authors that influence your writing style or the themes in your book?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Well I do feel, not that I think it is comparable but I read this long, long series of fantasy books by a guy called David Eddings who later corrected his authorial ship to include his wife, Leigh Eddings because she had been so integral to the books.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Wow.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Um but that was like a really classic fantasy like no hint of sci-fi, just some dude with a sword finding out that his aunt’s a witch and all that sort of thing and I think that like this is quite a conventional similar book to that but then maybe I want it to have a little bit more um of a sort of base level gross humour at times because I do have that um, um so yeah I think I have sort of conventional sort of um fantasy stylings with just a little bit of toilet humour.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

That’s really it. (laughs)

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Anymore questions for the room?  Go on, there’s a microphone coming.

Audience

Hello um, you spoke a bit about the um kind of trade off that you have to make when you become successful and famous in terms of obviously losing privacy and any kind of normality in your life.  Was there a particular moment in your life where you realised that will you come past the point of no return here and in hindsight do you have any regrets over fame or the process of becoming famous or is it just the price you have to pay?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Well I think, I think there’s probably ways of doing um you know, visual fame where you like you get all the good bits above the bad.  I think, I don’t know how like some actors just sort of disappear don’t they, they do a film and then you never see them or hear from them and I sort of try and do that.  I don’t want to go to like a sort of place that’s you are going get a photograph beating you know.  So I think I’ve tried to like put as much as I can a restraint on that sort of exposition because I do like to just feel normal so um, one example of me trying to sort of keep that is probably that I live in LA where like I’ll only rarely be stopped and um if I am it is normally like an English tourist like, you’ll never guess who I met.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Um which is lovely but I think that’s one of the driving forces that’s kept me there but I also think that so you miss that, and sometimes I do find I miss out on like my family and the sort of community and like but sometimes like my third space is here are ruined so like if I do want to go into a pub sometimes I am just thinking about like is anyone going to speak to me and watch and it’s my own head more than anyone really looking you know, it’s not a very, very common occurrence but I also find like in Newark where I live, visit, everyone does sort of know my family and me and I go to the same school my parents went to and you know, generations live there, I feel it’s completely natural and I feel like quite excited one day to retire and move back there because they also stop my mum, when I was a kid like walking around with five of us behind her in town and someone would come up to her and we’d be like, oh she’s going to be talking for ages.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

So I think I am ready to just sort of, I do accept it for what it is like, I, I spend a lot of life energy trying to be, have real like interactions with people that stop me and sometimes I do feel tired like I’m sort of giving way to much and sometimes people will come up and they are like sort of wired differently and they don’t know what to say or they are nervous and so I’ll fill in all the blanks and so like I’m so happy to lay down afterwards and like ah.  Signings are so hard because I can’t help myself, I need to look everyone in the eye and make sure that they didn’t leave and go, I feel bad about myself for even going to that and saying hello to him.  So I don’t know if by that I am even getting close to answering that question that you asked.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs)

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

But I tried.  Sorry.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Are there any more questions?  Hazel?

Audience

Hi and you’ve been involved in quite a lot of creative endeavours.  Who do you say your biggest creative influence is?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Biggest creative influence is um, I think, well in terms of like the art that I do, whenever I was making music and writing music I always liked, I loved Newton Faulkner, like I like a folky, folky dude um and then when it comes to all my creative endeavours.  I don’t know, I think I just want, I don’t want people ever to um work with me and think that I didn’t care about what I was doing and think that I didn’t care about enjoying them as well as enjoying what I am doing. I think Robin Williams was such a magic actor, I feel like everyone he met must have just been like, oh my god he really cared about and was interested in my joke and I want to, I think life is more rewarding when you spend a bit of energy getting to know someone because you just find a million different things in them right so I think like creatively a bit of a folky vibe and then professionally like I just want to be Robin Williams, god rest him.  Is that close enough?  Sorry.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Um and then another question from online which kind of links to art, how involved were you with the design of the Blood Flowers book cover?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

How, okay, so how involved was I, did I give any suggestions?  Oh no, yes um so scholastic we had like a meeting about what sort of vibe I would like and I sort of listed sort of visual elements from the book that I would enjoy seeing.  So something that isn’t there but was part of one of the suggestions was like I really liked the idea of seeing the, the copperside roof side and even though there is a city in there like I, well I guess it’s there yeah but then like the crow is in there.  Also I’m going to tell you, shall I tell you a secret?  Can I tell her a secret about the front?  Yeah let’s do it.  So in the book there’s, there’s a mouse right and I won’t say more than that but I really wanted there to be a mouse on the cover and then Scholastic rightly so said, it might lean it really strongly into like this is a kids book and it’s reading for like kids but also young adults and adults…

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Mm.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

…so they, they put a mouse in a negative space in one of the curling leaves which even though a lot of books have been distributed already, no one spotted it.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

But now I’ve officially said it so yeah if you see it between the D and the S, there’s just a silhouette of a mouse.  I was really happy that it was in there um, I like little things like that just so it’s got a little bit of extra you know, you pick up and say, oh yeah there’s that thingy majiggy.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Yeah, you see another thing.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Thanks Nicky for that question.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Yeah glad you asked.

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

Any final questions in the room?

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Oh going out with a bang (laughs)

Agatha Hunt
Trainee Solicitor

(laughs) So we close.  Thank you everyone and thank you Jay.

Jay McGuiness
Singer, Songwriter, Actor

Thank you so much, thanks Agatha.  Thanks for having me everyone.

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