Collabro: ‘We don’t know how we can top this – unless we perform on Mars!’

It’s been an extraordinary year for new boy band Collabro. We caught up with three of its members, Michael Auger, Richard Hadfield and Thomas J Redgrave, who reveal how life has changed for them and fellow members Jamie Lambert and Matt Pagan after winning Britain’s Got Talent and performing for royalty at the Palladium…

So far this year you’ve won Britain’s Got Talent, pocketing £250, 000, released your first album Stars and on Monday we see you sing for Prince William and Princess Kate on ITV’s Royal Variety Performance…
Michael: “The whole journey since we won Britain’s got Talent has been an absolute, insane whirlwind – but the best time of our lives. When we got together above a pub to perform a few musical theatre songs back in January we never expected it to go this far!”

Was it particularly surreal performing alongside some big-name performers at the Royal Variety for William and Kate?
Michael: “It was so strange and exciting to go into the auditorium and sit with Bette Midler, Shirley Bassey, One Direction and Ed Sheeran during rehearsals.”
Richard: “On the night Simon Cowell introduced us to a fanfare of trumpets, and afterwards we could see Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in the royal box clapping. All I could think was ‘is this happening?’ It’s definitely been the biggest pressure since the Britain’s Got Talent finals!”
Tom: “It was terrifying but amazing. We were all really nervous backstage, but used the nerves to fuel our performance of Say Something from our repackaged album Stars. To be on the same stage as people we’ve looked up to for years was incredibly exciting.”

Can anything top this?
Richard: “I don’t know how we can top this… unless we perform on Mars!”
Michael: “Performing at the Royal Variety is a league above everything else. It’s such an iconic stage and event. It’s the pinnacle of our career. Not just because it is Royalty Variety and such an iconic event, but also because it’s the end of our BGT journey and the start of a new career for Collabro.”

What was the atmosphere like backstage at the Palladium?
Tom: “Incredible. To think we can be on the bill alongside Better Midler, the cast of Miss Saigon, and perform between Ellie Goulding and One Direction… Amazing but terrifying!”
Richard: “It’s a bit mad, everyone’s running around getting ready. We also had the Britain’s Got Talent film crew with us doing some fun, behind-the-scenes filming… Eventually I got a bit braver and asked Ed Sheeran for an autograph for my little brother. We had a lovely chat. My brother was more excited by that than seeing me perform!”
Michael: “Harry from One Direction gave me advice during the dress rehearsal but I was still bricking it before going on!”

How was it meeting Kate and William?
Michael: “When I tried to say ‘hi’ to Prince William I ended up just mumbling. I still can’t believe it happened! We don’t know if they sit at home watching Britain’s Got Talent, but Prince William and the Duchess said they thought our act was fantastic. We should have asked them if they’d voted!”

It’s been an action-packed year – are you exhausted?
Tom: “Completely! Our calendar keeps getting updated and new things are added all the time, so it’s full on. But we wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”

What do your family and friends make of your success?
Richard: “They’re so happy for all of us. It’s as much a journey for them as it is for us. I think they’d like to see us a bit more, but understand we’re constantly busy. Time with our families means everything to us. We love getting together to talk about what’s going on with them, not about Collabro. They’ve been there for us since day one.”
Michael: “It’s really important to us to always fit in some time with our family and friends. And also with our fans – without them putting their faith in us, and picking up the phone and voting, we wouldn’t be here. The first album and upcoming tour is a way of giving something back before trying to take Collabro to the next stage.

Is it difficult to stay grounded?
Michael: “Not at all. When there’s five people in a band there’s always someone to say ‘come on mate, you don’t need sparking mineral water – just drink it from the tap!’ But at the same time, sometimes it’s nice to try something luxurious and indulge a bit, but without taking it too far!”

Watch this year’s Royal Variety Performance on ITV, Monday, December 8 at 7.30pm