An archive of interviews, reviews, features, news stories, etc. for the Nottingham 'Evening' Post dating back to 1993
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SHE isn’t worried about him. Mum McGuiness has greater concerns for his younger brother Sean, who has been signing autographs for teenage girls.
Sean is 16, four years younger than Jay, who is Nottinghamshire’s latest pop star, as one fifth of boy band The Wanted.
For the past few months, he’s been travelling around the UK promoting the group’s two singles (including the No. 1 All Time Low) and their self-titled debut album which went in to the chart on Sunday at No. 4.
Last week, Jay and the rest of The Wanted were at HMV in Wheeler Gate to sign copies of the album for hundreds of fans, some of who had been queuing since early morning.
“Half way through my little brother rocks up with a few of his mates,” says Jay.
“And he looks like me, so he stands outside and there are fans screaming and crowding round him. And he’s trying to get their phone numbers. I told him ‘stop doing that!’ It’s so annoying.”
“I am worried about that a bit,” says 50-year-old mum, Maureen McGuiness, from Newark.
“I said’ look, you can’t start getting in to this.’ But it was just Nottingham, it’s not going to be happening every day of the week. It was a bit of a laugh for him and he loved it.”
She adds: “There was an issue with Facebook where the youngest two were accepting friend request from Wanted fans. I went through it with them and told them it wasn’t safe. I’ve made them add me as a Facebook friend so I can keep an eye on it.”
She isn’t worried that Jay - or James as she calls him -- will get in to trouble now he’s a British pop star.
“It never worried me for a minute about James,” she says.
“He’s so laid back, he’s almost horizontal.”
Mum couldn’t make it to HMV because she was in Dublin seeing family.
Although Jay has a different take on that.
“I’d been home the week before that, for the first time in ages, for my niece’s Christening, so no-one was really that bothered that I was back again,” he laughs.
“My granddad came to see me because he’d not met the lads yet. He came in his tie, trying to look all smart for them. And he asked us all to come to his local pub when we’re all back again.”
500 fans has been allowed in to the store for the signing.
“In Nottingham and Manchester, because we have connections to the cities, they go absolutely mad for us,” says Jay.
“Our first gig, when it was just us and not supporting anyone, was at the Royal Concert Hall (a one-off for Trent FM listeners) and they went mental. So we were expecting a good reaction when we came back but we couldn’t believe it. Girls were shaking and crying and stuff. We’re like ‘what’s happening here?’”
It was while he was in Dublin with The Wanted, for an appearance on The Late Late Show, that Mum met up with him.
“I followed him around for one day and I was shattered,” she admits.
“I don’t know how they do it.”
It was an opportunity for her to meet the rest of The Wanted and she approves.
“They’re a great bunch. It’s not all show, they are really natural lads.”
She adds: “I did say to James, don’t ever change and he said ‘Mum, I couldn’t’”.
Does it help that he’s from a large family?
“He’d probably say that I was a strict parent but I would say it was simply instilling ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s. They had their jobs to do and if they didn’t do them they wouldn’t get their pocket money.”
The McGuiness family are Newark born and bred. Along with Jay, 20 and Sean, 16, there’s Jay’s twin brother Thomas, who is at university in Sheffield studying business and marketing.
“He’s not an identical twin but they look like brothers. And he doesn’t really take an interest.”
The eldest is Luke, 22, who works with their dad, an electrician. And the youngest is 14-year-old Eleanor.
“She’s really switched on.”
Mum has been saving the press cuttings since last summer, although it’s been tricky keeping up, she admits.
“I started to buy everything but soon realised I’d have a man mountain so I’ve printed off internet stories or burned them to a disc. And I’ve got everything.”
Talking to the media isn’t something she’s too happy with.
“It was the one thing I said I’d never do,” admits mum.
“Because he asked me to talk to you I said I’d do it.”
Says Jay: “She always panics if (the media) phone her and she then rings me to see if it’s OK. I tell her ‘of course, just don’t say anything embarrassing.’”
What, like this?
“We’re all very sporty in this family. We all like football but Jay never took to it. When they were in the garden, they’d be playing football and he’d be talking to daisies and ladybirds.”
There’s a quote that’ll be following him around for a while.
“It’s true,” insists mum.
“He loved animals, he loved reading, he loved art.”
Even mum played football, for Newark Town Ladies for nine years.
“I gave it up nine years ago after a knee injury,” says Maureen, a Manchester United fan because of George Best.
Jay, she says, will tell you he’s a Celtic fan, because his dad’s family are Scottish.
While at school Jay tried Irish dancing but didn’t get on with it. It was when he joined his mum at a tap dancing class that he decided he wanted to perform.
“Initially, his dream was to be in the West End. When he left school he wanted to go to drama school. I wanted him to do A levels first because he was an A plus student. None of his grades were below a B.”
He went to the Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama MADD in Carlton, living in a rented house for two years.
“While I was there I had a job selling key rings in bars in Nottingham. They take a photo of a group of people then put it in a key ring. It was £3 per key ring and I used to get £1.”
After college he spent six months going to and from London auditioning for various jobs in dance and music.
“The one for The Wanted I actually found by searching on Google.”
He moved in with the rest of the group in to a shared house in North London and set about recording their debut album and repeatedly touring the UK to promote it.
Is he disappointed it didn’t get to No. 1?
“No way. We were so happy. The singles have done well but we weren’t sure whether anyone would be bothered about the album, so to get in to the top five was so good.”
There will be a tour, the dates will be announced within the next two weeks. Will it include a date in Nottingham?
“Definitely,” he says.
“And hopefully more than one night.”
He adds: “We’ll probably go for the Royal Concert Hall first and if that sells out we’ll go for the Arena.”
Jay is already getting in to the spirit of pop star excess by adopting an exotic pet. Well, sort of. It’s a lizard. And he’s been updating fans with her progress on Twitter.
“She’s been ill. All the fans have been asking how she’s doing but she’s all right now.”
How can he care for a lizard when he’s always on the road?
“She’s got loads of aunties and uncles. All our mates and some of the management team love looking after her, so she’s always well fed and happy.”
Why a lizard?
“I got her just before we released All Time Low. It was something I always wanted. Mum wouldn’t let us have any pets. But she did have five kids so I don’t think she wanted anything else to feed.”