It’s hard to believe that it has been eight long years since JLS burst onto the scene via The X Factor, with Aston Merrygold, Marvin Humes, Oritse Williams and JB Gill coming second to Alexandra Burke back in 2008.
Although the band have since gone their separate ways career wise, the foursome are still the best of friends and when I caught up with Aston for an exclusive chat about his new solo single, ‘I Ain’t Missing You’, I just had to talk about his thoughts on this year’s controversial X Factor series.
In case you missed it, the ITV show has faced serious backlash over the last few days after two novelty acts, Honey G and Bradley and Octavia, reached the live shows – meaning that much more genuine singing acts lost out on a spot.
When I asked Aston how he would have felt if JLS lost their spot to a novelty act all those years ago, the star admitted that’d he wouldn’t be happy.
“Honestly, I would have been fuming,” he told me, “Of course. Everyone wants to win and I would have been very unhappy, but that’s part of the show.
“It’s part of TV and part of our culture and as much as everyone complains, we all do enjoy it and it is good TV. We have to see how the live shows pan out, that’s all we can do and I’m sure everyone will enjoy it.
“We all love to moan about The X Factor and all the other shows but we all watch it and all enjoy it and we are all talking about it, so it’s doing its job.”
Aston went on to sing the praises of boy band 5 After Midnight, who also secured a spot in the live finals after drawing comparisons to Aston’s own band, JLS.
He shared: “I’m backing them from now, there’s room for a boyband like them – the old school boyband thing. They have the exact same opportunity as we did… We weren’t the first and we were never going to be the last and it’s the same for these guys.
“It’s just nice from us if we have in any way inspired them, that would be great – that’s the whole point of music.”
And despite no longer ‘officially’ having a working relationship with his JLS bandmates, Aston told me that the boys have all been lending a helping hand in creating his solo album, admitting that he plays them his work-in-progress tracks to get their seal of approval.
In fact, the boys are still all so close that they recently enjoyed their annual holiday together with their partners and children, with Aston explaining: “We’re still the best of friends. We went away three or four weeks ago and the week after me, Marvin, Rochelle [Marvin’s wife], and some friends all went to Morocco for a few days.
“I just got back from Ibiza with Marv two days ago, we’re still as close as ever. History has it that when a band breaks up nobody talks any more, we’re just the same but the band aren’t back in form.
“It baffles me how [other bands] end up hating eachother; you’re with eachother every single day and you know eachother – you’re closer to them than their actual blood family. It’s very odd, for me anyway.
“We were together long before we ever did The X Factor; we were just friends singing together at first.”
And now Aston is singing on his own, although fans are still left anticipating his first solo album as the star tells us that he made the decision to start it again.
Speaking about his fans’ patience for the record, Aston told me: “I feel really bad. Bascially, I’ve just started my own label and I’m a lot more comfortable with who I am musically and what I want to do.
“If I’m going to give everyone an album I’m going to give them an album that I would play in my car myself. The whole album was ready, but there’s four songs on there now that I listen to and go ‘meh’ – and the album isn’t even out yet.
“It can’t be right because I’m a little bit bored of stuff already. I need to make sure that it is 100% right and 100% me; I will be totally happy with it and hopefully everybody else will be as well.”
And judging by Aston’s first few solo singles, I am more than sure that his first solo album is going to be well worth the wait.
‘I Ain’t Missing You’ is out now – exclusively check out Quake’s remix of the track below: