Having struggled in various bands, you found fame through The X Factor. Do you worry about your perceived credibility?
I know some people look at The X Factor and see it as a sneaky way in [to the music business] but when you’ve been trying for 14 years, I don’t think any way is sneaky. You have to put in the legwork, and I certainly have done. Trying to get people to understand that I didn’t just do it on a whim is difficult.
And if you bring it up yourself it seems arrogant – you can’t say “I was in a band before, you know!”
Exactly. People ask “why did you do the show?” and I didn’t really want to – my mate put me up to it. It sounds wank. You can’t say it but it is true.
It seems like a lot of journalists are trying to push you into slating The X Factor…
Well, that’s exactly how it feels. They want me to seem bitter about it, but I’m not, you know? I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity and the platform that it gave me. Look at it this way: I’ve come out of it and released an album that’s just about to go platinum, so it’s not done me any harm so far.
How do you think an X Factor winner can guarantee longevity?
One thing I think you can do for yourself is to write your own material, which I’ve been doing all my life really, and I’ve co-written Letters. I might even write for some other people. It’s just one of those things that can help longevity and help credibility.
Having come from a song writing background is helpful then?
Some people have been on the show on a whim, someone’s told them they have a great voice and then all of a sudden they’re more famous than people that have been struggling in a signed band for a long, long time. They have more opportunities, which I don’t think is quite fair, but it’s not for everyone. The people I was playing in bands with are still doing what I was doing 18 months ago, and I have a lot of respect for them. I was 27, given an opportunity and I took it. I was living in a little village in the countryside and it’s very hard to get through there. Coming down to London for one gig is difficult.
The industry’s famously complicated and political – there are a million reasons why someone couldn’t make it.
Absolutely, yeah. It’s like any job in life; you’ve got to bend one way or the other to get to where to want to get to. I suppose I’ve done that the whole time I’ve been trying.
The album has been a success, but the latest single ‘Starlight’ didn’t do so well in the charts – are you expecting better for ‘Amazing’?
The thing with ‘Starlight’ was we weren’t really aiming for a position in the chart; we just wanted to get it out on the radio and TV. But to get it played on radio, you have to say it’s a single and give it a release date. At this stage, it isn’t about plonking it in the chart somewhere; it’s about promoting the album. You can get a number one, that’s great, but if no-one buys the album, it doesn’t do anything for you. It’d be nice to chart with ‘Amazing’, and we’re giving it more of a push, but again it’s about promoting the album.
Are you releasing that so people will say ‘Have you heard Matt Cardle’s new single? It’s Amazing’?
(Polite laughter) No, that was never the plan!
You can have that.
You’re playing a huge tour this March – what sort of show is it going to be?
It’s gonna be a rock show, essentially, with a big acoustic section. It’s gonna be amazing, hopefully. I’ve known my band for a long time; I’ve been working for them for years and years so it’ll be good to be on stage with them.
So you’re working with people you knew pre-X Factor?
I’ve been working with these people since before X Factor, for a long time. They’re good mates of mine.
Is there anywhere you’re going that you’re particularly looking forward to playing?
We’re at the Bournemouth Academy on the 8th March, and from what I’ve heard it’s a really special place. Obviously, there and the Hammersmith Apollo.
Do you already have plans for the follow-up to Letters?
I over-wrote for Letters and there are always songs I’m writing all day every day that are making their way through. I’m always writing, and if something pops up that I really like, we’ll use it.
What sort of direction will you be taking?
It’ll sound much more raw, maybe a little stripped back in places. It’ll be a little bit more in-your-face and with not so many instruments on it.
Thanks very much.
Thanks, look after yourself.