When David Walliams asked me if I wanted to interview JLS for The Independent, it was a no-brainer. I jumped at the chance. It sort of made sense that I should interview them about their involvement with Comic Relief. I had interviewed them at every other stage of their careers – X Factor hopefuls, Chatty Man guests, Brit Award winners, even at the launch of their own-brand, colour-coded rubber johnnies (yellow is my favourite). So I am there, Dictaphone at hand...
I've been told to go to a studio complex in deep and darkest Bermondsey where JLS are rehearsing for their upcoming tour. My mother has decided to come with me (don't ask), and, as you can imagine, it's all very exciting.
I find the boys in the greasy spoon caff on site and they are full of beans, literally. Aston and Marvin are wading through a large fry-up, JB, I notice, has settled, sensibly, for porridge, and Oritsé's not having anything. I know reader, it's like being there, isn't it?!
The boys, as always, are totally charming – even Mrs Carr gets a kiss off of Marvin, get her!
As the interview progresses it's plain to see that the boys are genuinely dedicated to the Comic Relief cause, which is lovely to see.
"So," I say, with my finger poised over the record button, "tell me more..."
Alan Carr: Listen, I've looked at what you're doing for Sport Relief – are you crazy?
JB Gill: Maybe we are. For us, when it comes to giving back, it's one of the best and the most rewarding things you can possibly do, whatever it is; donating money to support a charity or being involved in a charity personally. For Sport Relief, we went out to Uganda in October and it was incredible experience. We went to see some of the projects that Sport Relief and Comic Relief have already helped. Then we were sent to see some of the places that, hopefully, we will be helping this year with Sport Relief 2012. It's things like that that inspire us. For us, we're musicians so being involved this year with the official Sport Relief single, "Proud", I suppose is the easiest way for us to get involved.
AC: I know you're doing that, but why didn't you do a sponsored silence or something? That's what I'd do. Or a fun run? You're running, you're doing a concert...
Marvin Humes: Yeah, we're doing a concert at the O2 with Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks, where, obviously, all of the ticket sales, all the money, goes to Sport Relief.
AC: Now, that marathon you're running there, I'm a bit worried, Marvin, because you're tucking into a fry-up.
Marvin: Well, it's not quite a marathon, it's one mile, so it's not too bad. At the moment, we're rehearsing for eight hours a day, we're really putting the work in. So we can kind of get away with it.
Oritse Williams: If you don't eat carbs, and you continuously don't eat carbs, then you're alright. For me it's a matter of having carbs in the morning, but the right kind of carbs. I can have porridge and that's my carb for the day. No more carbs, thank you very much.
AC: But you are notoriously lazy. You lay in all the time, don't you? You are the last up, I heard. How are you gonna get up for this marathon? You're gonna be like, "five more minutes"... "five more minutes"...
Oritse: I don't know where you heard that.
AC: But, [to the others] he likes to lay in doesn't he?
JB: No, I'm the one who likes a lie in.
AC: Oh really!
Oritse: Yeah it's him, you're talking to completely the wrong person... AC: So whose gonna be first across the line? Is it gonna be you [pointing to JB]?
JB: No it's not necessarily gonna be me. It's not gonna be Marvin.
AC: Now you know you're rehearsing for this tour, how can you beat your entrance last time, when you came out in a car flying across the sky? How can you beat that?
JB: We can beat that – trust me.
AC: What have you got as an amazing entrance?
Aston merrygold: Are you coming, Alan?
AC: Course – I won't miss it for the world.
JB: You're not ready Alan [for how amazing the show is going to be].
Marvin: We got to step it up. Got to keep it zipped up.
JB: Put it this way, Alan, last year we had two-and-a-half days of production rehearsals, which is like when you have the stage and the set. This year, we've had to double it. Just to work around the production stuff. So we got five full days and another half day in Liverpool before the first date [of the tour]. It's serious.
AC: Go on, give me a little hint. Is it going to be theatrical? Is Lady Gaga going be sitting there thinking, "why didn't I think of that?"
Oritse: Lady Gaga will definitely be thinking that. Lady Gaga won't be able to do what we'll be doing on this tour [waves fingers like a magician]...
AC: This run...
Marvin: It's a Sport Relief Mile
AC: Shame it's not a marathon. I was getting ready for those silver BacoFoil things...
Oritse: Have you ever run a marathon, Alan?
AC: No, no. I've got mincer's leg.
AC: Now you've got to tell me about "Proud", this "Proud". Now, I've listened to it, it's a great song and it's appropriate. It's gotta be, hasn't it... it can't be all "uh oh uh oh uh oh" [sings intro to JLS's "She Makes Me Wanna"]. You know, lifting up your shirt and showing your abs. You can't do that.
Marvin: Now, it's all about the air-grabs [demonstrates a meaningful, sultry look at the camera while reaching out with one hand and grabbing the air in a very tongue-in-cheek way].
AC: So what was it like filming at Wembley Stadium? That must've been amazing to do. [The FA allowed filming of the Sport Relief video at Wembley Stadium for nothing.]
Aston: Amazing but cold. I've never been so cold in my life. I had so many layers on.
Marvin: Do you remember about six weeks ago?
AC: That was freezing.
Marvin: Literally at the peak of that.
Aston: In the whole dome area, there was no heat, no nothing, it was cold.
Oritse: And there was no roof!
[All the others laugh.]
AC: What was it like with these athletes? Were they moaning about the cold as well? Were they grumpy about it? [The "Proud" video features Olympians triple-jumper Phillips Idowu, swimmer Rebecca Adlington and gymnast Louis Smith, who filmed with the band at Wembley Stadium.]
Aston: I've known Louis since he was two years old. My dad called me and was like, "it's so weird seeing you and Lewis in the same music video when I used to see you in the living room playing Nintendo, when you were however old."
AC: Ah that's sweet. It's great he's done so well and everything.
Aston: Yeah, he's got the Olympics this year and he's more than happy to oblige.
AC: Is there anything you wanna mention? [Now speaking to Marvin, who is marrying Rochelle Wiseman from The Saturdays later this year.] You're probably sick of the wedding so won't bother about that. Oh yes, the night for Sport Relief. Then the next day...
Oritse: Doing a concert for Sport Relief with Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks.
Marvin: Yeah, we've got a mad weekend.
AC: That is crazy.
Marvin: Friday night we've got the big BBC night of TV. Then we get on motorbikes across town to make it to the O2. We got to be on stage for like....
AC: That one's got a roof over it Oritsé, so you'll be OK. [Oritsé pulls a face and laughs.]
Marvin: So we do that show, then the next day we do the matinée show for Sport Relief. Then we've got a gig again at the O2 that night. Then the next morning we go run the Sport Relief Mile. Then we go back to the O2 for a show that same night. So it's gonna be a proper Sport Relief weekend.
Aston: Hang on, how early is this mile we're running?
JB: Hopefully not too early!
AC: So when's your new album out?
Aston: That's a good question. We had a meeting the other day and now it might be pushed back a little bit.
Marvin: It will be this year. But not sure whether it will be summer or winter.
Oritse: Yeah we're gonna shock the world a little with the next one.
AC: What sound would you like?
Oritse: Well we're trying to keep it more old-school and R&B, bringing that back round, reinvention. We've been to America and worked with quite a few people like Bangladesh [a Grammy Award-winning American record producer] and Darkchild – Rodney Jerkins.
AC: Oh yeah, I know him.
Marvin: Probably most famous for Destiny's Child [he sings "Say My Name"].
AC: Is this thing with Rihanna ever gonna start?
Marvin: We're getting closer and closer.
Aston: We nearly got to see her the other day [they have been rehearsing at the same studios]. She came to see us and we were busy, then we went to see her and she was busy. It's actually a joke... but it's getting closer.
AC: So if I wanted to do this Sport Relief Mile with you, how would I sign up?
Marvin: Go to the website [details below]. You doing it with us?
AC: Is it a mile? Oh I might do that!
Oritse: Yeah. You can walk it.
AC: The Queen might be looking out the window [this year the London Sport Relief Mile is happening on The Mall for the first time].
"Proud", the Official Sport Relief 2012 single, is out now. The Sport Relief Charity Concert featuring JLS is at the 02, London, tomorrow at 2pm and will be broadcast on BBC3 at 9.20pm the same day. The Sainsbury's Sport Relief Mile takes place on Sunday across the UK (www.sportrelief.com). 'Sport Relief' goes out on BBC1 tonight from 7pm
JLS were styled by Lee Holmes
LET'S DANCE: SIX SINGLES FOR SPORT RELIEF
Elton John and Alessandro Safina
The inaugural Sport Relief single, in 2002, was a reworking of Elton John's much-loved 1970 anthem, a duet featuring operatic tenor Alessandro Safina, with a choir building the song's emotive tug towards its end.
Don't Stop Me Now/ Please, Please
Boy band McFly's lively cover of Queen's hit was the most successful Sport Relief single to date, knocking Lily Allen's "Smile" off the No 1 spot in 2006. It was released as a double-A-side with their song Please, Please.
Better in Time / Footprints in the Sand
The 'X Factor'-winner's ballad, boasting her soaring Mariah Carey-esque vocals, was released as a double-A-side, reaching No 2 in 2008. The first single from her album, it was nominated for a Brit Award for Best British Single.
Robbie Williams's trad-rock song was the third single from his eighth studio album, 'Reality Killed the Video Star'. It's a wonder that it failed to reach the UK Top 40 in 2010.
The R'n'B pop band's 2012 single is a tearjerking ballad. Could it be the sixth chart-topping single for the boy band who have two Brit Awards to their name?
The former S Club 7 singer, turned solo star, had a No 2 hit in 2004 with this catchy pop song, produced by Richard X. It later re-appeared on the re-release of her album 'Funky Dory'.