Singer-songwriter Curtis T Johns on touring with The Band


Five to Five in The Band
Curtis T Johns won BBC talent show Let It Shine as a member of boyband Five to Five, and they’re now touring the UK in a musical which pays tribute to Take That. Curtis chats to us about being on TV, meeting his idols and his passion for rugby

You’re still based in Leeds.
I was born in the Harewood area, then moved to Seacroft and went to Bishop Young Academy, which is where I got involved in music and songwriting. At the age of 13 or 14, I was commissioned by Leeds Town Hall to write a song for one of their events, and it went from being a passion to becoming something I was actually good at. I mostly wrote acoustic music with piano at that time, and there was a studio at my school, so I used to get there early to learn how to produce and record. 

You’ve been all over the world with songwriting projects. 
I got a publishing deal which allowed me to travel, working with big companies. That helped me hone my skills, and I had the opportunity of writing for X Factor contestants, Matt Cardle and Ray Quinn. 

If you could write for any singer, who would it be? 
Brandon Flowers. I’m a big Killers’ fan and I also love his solo work. 

Lots of Take That fanatics must have applied to be on Let It Shine.
That’s me down to a tee – I also love Mark Owen’s solo work. I saw Gary Barlow’s advert for the show on TV, and thought, ‘I want to perform for him’. 

I bet being on live TV every week was an exciting experience. 
It was really cool. I loved meeting Amber Riley from Glee at my audition, and performing with Olly Murs was so special for me. I'm still in touch with people from the show including judges and producers who check up on us from time to time, and Dannii Minogue still voices her support on Instagram. It’s like a family you can’t get rid of. My overall highlight was singing Tell Her About It by Billy Joel, and the most nerve-racking element was receiving a star rating at the end of each performance. 

It’s lucky you get on with the other boys from Five to Five so well. 
We have a nice mix of backgrounds and come from all over the UK. I’m the eldest, so they all keep me young, and I help them with washing and cooking. After the musical, we’ll stay together as a band – we’ve already signed a management deal, so there’s an album on the horizon. I definitely want to be involved in the songwriting process, and the good thing about that is you can do it in the background, as well as performing. 

The Band is touring for 10 months – staying motivated must be a challenge.
 The audience always drives you, and their support gets the adrenaline pumping. I had no background in acting before I went on Let It Shine, so this whole thing is very new for me anyway. We also have a great, intimate cast, I get on well with the two understudies, Harry and Jamie, and I genuinely enjoy the story of the musical so I never tire of reliving it. It’s about growing up with the culture of loving a boyband, and how that stays with you throughout your life.

Do you see a future for yourself in musical theatre after this show? 
If I’m honest, probably not. The Band is quite unique in that it takes everything I love about music and puts it into one show. It’s about people’s lives and their relationships with music, which I relate to, and there’s obviously the Take That element, which is brilliant. 

Rugby is your other major passion.
I run Far Moss Sports Ground in Leeds. I’d worked there for a while when I was younger, and then back in 2013, I got involved with the infrastructure and bought the club. I’ve made it a lot more family-orientated, so it has a wonderful atmosphere and is home to teams including Moortown Rugby Union Football Club and North Leeds Leopards Rugby League Club. 

The Band is currently on tour, with upcoming dates in Hull and Leeds.

6–17 March 2018 – Hull New Theatre
20–31 March 2018 – Leeds Grand Theatre 

Published in: November 2017

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