It’s not every day that you get to meet X-Factor royalty.
But there’s no airs and graces around JLS’ Aston Merrygold. He is great form as we chat over a Coca-Cola and a cup of tea in the heart of Dublin on a rainy day. Of course, we start with a conversation about the dismal weather. But soon we get down to business – his tour.
He’ll be playing Ireland in April and he’s excited for all the “craic”.
Here’s how we spent 10 minutes with Aston…
Hey Aston. How are you? Excited to be back in Ireland?
Absolutely and I’ll be back for my 4am Tour in April. The 28th, 29th, 30th – Cork, Dublin, Belfast. It’s the follow on from my 3am Tour that I did last year that I am really grateful was so successful. I love coming to play in Ireland. I love coming to party and have good craic. I’m really excited to get back on the road.
Clearly you love touring. But do you ever miss home?
I’ve been working away from home since I was 15, so I’m not fazed by it. But it is a lot harder now that I have kids. Now I’m my own boss I can pick and choose where I go and what I do. That means that my kids can come to whatever show they want and they can stay with me. They love it and they feel very lucky that they’re exposed to such an amazing right.
Do you kids know what daddy does?
They are fully in. The first show I ever did, Grayson, my eldest was a tiny, tiny baby. So he had no idea. Of course, COVID struck and I did The Masked Singer during that time. Of course, it wasn’t solely to see his reaction but definitely to see his reaction! Seeing his face when I was unmasked was priceless. But them seeing me do shows like this is crazy, they want to get involved. They are part of it. They help me test the microphone. They want to test the stage. They tell me what lights are cool. It’s great to see them feed into it.
So do you think that being a dad has changed you?
I’m less tolerant of people than I was. I think that’s after watching my wife through her pregnancy and seeing what she can do, even when she didn’t feel great. It’s nuts to me, how resilient the human body is in general, but specifically for women. It’s just nuts. There was no complaining. Now I’m just at that point where I can be like, “No that’s not good enough. We’re doing this and this.”
Tell us, what is the first thing you do in the morning?
I roll out of bed, gym stuff on, brush my teeth and go work out. I know that if I don’t do it straight away I won’t do it. If you do the hardest thing of the day first, you’ll have an easier day. I would rather do that.
Who would play you in a movie?
I’m going to throw this to 20 years’ time which is when I think I would deserve a movie, I’m not quite there yet. But I would say my son, Grayson.
Tell us how you would spend your perfect day.
Wake up on the road, in a hotel, have breakfast, a day out with my kids and my wife. Day activities, all sorts. Put them to bed and then go over to do a show in the evening. I have the best of both there. That’s the best day.
Who are your dream three dinner guests?
I’m not going to say JLS, they don’t leave and they drink all my wine. Will Smith. Drake, I can ask him to do a feature. And Mr Amazon, Jeff Bezos. I’m thinking movie and TV world, music and entrepreneur. Pick your brain.
Speaking of JLS, you got your big break on a reality show. Do you think you were prepared for that level of fame at 16?
I think I was prepared. But that time was very different. We didn’t have social media. If you do something now everyone’s got their phones out. With reality shows in this day in age, you do know what you’re getting into to a certain degree. You know there’s going to be eyes on it. But the backend of it now is that there 100 per cent needs to be more people management and people care. It takes a toll on the mental side of things. Now we’re revolving around people’s opinions and people can instantly see it. It is hard, especially now. I mean, when we did X Factor there was social media but… I was thick-skinned at the time anyway I was used to being told no. I was 16 being told “No not for us”, it was that cold. So I knew what the music industry was like.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve gotten?
Apart from do the hardest thing of the day first? Probably from Seal, a casual namedrop, he pulled us aside when we were starting off and he said – Just enjoy. He told us, “Just sit in the corner, sit to the side and take it in. Because it will be gone before you know it.” That 2008 and now it’s 2023, and it’s gone. It just goes and I’m glad I managed to have those moments.
Who is someone you look up to?
My grandad. He is the hardest-working person I have ever known. I think we overlook how lucky we are where we are right now. That generation and the madness they went through. We are so lucky!
Do you get nervous about releasing new music?
I don’t give a s**t. You can’t be nervous because of a build-up. I’m very different now than who I was. I used to be very, very nervous. Whereas now, I focus on the creative part. I make music to enjoy and I get nervous they won’t. But, going back to mental health, I have to take care of myself. So if people don’t like it, it’s fine.
What movie do you wish you could erase from your brain and rewatch for the first time?
I have never laughed as hard at a movie than when I watched the Rush Hour films. I remember watching them films absolutely screaming, I was crying with laughter.
What are you bingeing at the minute?
At the minute I am bingeing Atlanta on Disney+. I tried to go back to The Walking Dead but it’s too much! I did Grey’s Anatomy. I really commit to these shows. Lockdown really helped. I could have put out six albums in the time I spent watching Grey’s Anatomy.
If you couldn’t be a singer what job would you do?
I would be a stay-at-home dad.
Tell us your favourite place on earth.
I could give you a really cheesy answer but I won’t do that. So I’ll say the Maldives. Chuck me on that island and leave me there. I think it’s the only place I’ve been able to read a book properly.
What’s on your bucket list?
A lot of things. First, sell out this tour. Then come back and do as many shows as possible.
Aston Merryweather will be playing Cork, Dublin, Belfast on the 28th, 29th and 30th of April. Tickets available here.