Following some stunning performances throughout the live shows, Rory Taylor, the 24 year old from The Wirral, fought to win the role of Jesus with his stunning solo song in the final and a flawless performance of Gethsemane with Roger and Ben. Sadly he was destined for second place, but here Rory talks about the show, and about the love of his life - singing with his brothers in their band, 54321.
How are things now that the TV show is finished?
Things are still a bit hectic as I’m trying to catch up with everyone after being away for so long. I have to say though, although it’s great to be back, I’m absolutely exhausted.
I suppose that you must have put, what has been, your life totally on hold?
Yeah, you do. I think that, because people see the finished thing on TV - and for this it was over a period of two weeks – they seem to think that it was limited to those two weeks and then a couple of days of auditions, but it certainly wasn’t. The first audition for me was in February, with the call backs in March and, after I got through all that, it sort of snowballed really.
You’re right in that you do completely have to sign yourself over to it, so it’s been pretty much six months of it being everything to me. So all my gigs that I had booked into the calendar had to mostly be cancelled or re-arranged, all my bills and rent had to be looked after for me and so it’s quite a strange thing to put yourself through really.
But, having reached the final, completely worth it?
Oh, definitely worth it. Worth it for the experience alone, the experience of being up on that stage and performing night after night for the viewing public and for the studio audience but, most importantly for Andrew Lloyd Webber – who has just been absolutely fantastic.
He is not someone that I would ever have assumed that I would have clicked with. I mean, before this experience I don’t think I had ever imagined even knowing him, but he’s an incredibly, incredibly, nice guy and he’s been just brilliant with me. That’s not to say that he hasn’t been brilliant with everyone because he’s been great with us all but just the experience of meeting him alone was worth it.
He was like a friend, with us every day, I mean he’d turn up to all the rehearsals and what a lot of people didn’t realise was that he was generally in the studio with us all day, every day. Our call time was usually 9am to be in the studios and he would be there bang on nine. With us we’d just jumped out the shower and grabbed whatever clothes we could.
Did he have a lot of input during rehearsals?
Oh yes, it was so great to have him there, working through songs that he has written, telling you the full back story and the reasons that he chose to do a certain thing, whether it be a melodic adjustment or something like that, he would explain it to us and that is very strange – it’s completely amazing to have someone like that.
Knowing the full story behind a song always helps but, as musicians, sometimes you have to make up a back story. If you don’t know what the real one is you make something up that will really help you to connect to a song but, for this, we didn’t have to because Andrew was there to tell us.
Even with songs that aren’t his own, he knows the stories behind them. For instance we had to learn “The Long and Winding Road” for one of the sing offs and he told us the full story about why the song was written the way it was and it’s just fascinating. I am a songwriter myself, and to learn all that stuff was just absolutely brilliant.
And for someone who plays at the Cavern Club, a song of particular interest to you.
Absolutely! Yes. I have been going to the Cavern Club since I was, very much, not allowed to, since I was a very young man. I mean I fronted my first band when I was about 12 and I’ve always played in bands with people older than me so I was playing all the time and I really grew to love going to see live music.
Obviously with the Cavern being almost the centre of the Liverpool music scene, the real hub, it was an incredible place to go and then, later on, to have the privilege to be the resident band there was just a brilliant thing. We’ve been playing on and off there for many years now and in recent years, every week and it’s great. It’s a lovely place and I would genuinely urge anyone, who has not been to Liverpool for a while, to go up there and give it a go because the place is just brilliant now.
How is your album doing since the Superstar show?
It seems to be doing alright actually. People seem to be picking up on it, which is good but I’m not really sure how long the “What We Did With Our Days” album will stay around because that was an independent release by us and, fingers crossed, the new stuff should be out soon – with a little more backing than it’s previously had.
So, there may be a few nice things in the pipeline that I don’t want to jinx by talking about them just yet, or by getting my hopes up too high, but I think that there will be a few nice meetings taking place soon – so, watch this space for 54321!
In a lot of the comments you received the clarity of your singing was mentioned. How do you learn that, or is it something you’ve just always done?
Do you know what that’s from? It’s from years and years of being a recording artist. I absolutely love being in the recording studio and I am also a massive perfectionist so, when I put a vocal down on a track I listen back to it instantly and, regardless of whether there are people in there telling me it sounds great, if I don’t think it’s the one – then I don’t think it’s the one.
One of things that I always pick up on is whether or not I can tell what it is I’m saying. So if I listen back to the lyric and I can hear it a clear as day, then it’s probably right because, you see, I can’t stand lazy singing. I really cannot stand it, it’s a massive bugbear of mine and it always has been. So, whenever I am doing any vocal coaching with any of the kids that I work with in various schools, I notice if they have picked up any bad habits, like not enunciating there words correctly. I tell them to just say the words properly and they often tell me that it comes across as too posh, too “musical theatre”, and I just tell them that I can do and I certainly don’t do it in a musical theatre way, I just want people to know what I’m singing about.
If you don’t sing in a “Musical Theatre” style, would you like to?
Would I like to? No. Do you know what, for me, my past is very much with the band. The reason that I went for the role in Jesus Christ Superstar is that, although on paper it’s musical theatre, in reality it’s not. It’s a real rock opera. It’s the epitome of rock music and theatre being combined on the stage in a fantastic show. I think it’s very different to other types of musical theatre, and that’s not to say that musical theatre doesn’t interest me, and one day I may well do it – but it’s not the route I want to go down for now. I feel much more at home stood on stage with my brothers, in our band, performing our own music.
So we can look forward to a lot more from Rory the Rock Star and 54321 then?
I hope so, yes, I really do. Like I said, there are a few interesting meetings to be had and, maybe, some nice projects coming up so we’re just going to play it by ear for the moment and I really hope that you’ll be seeing a lot more of me and, if it’s not in the massive way that I hope it will be, then it will be just back to playing at the Cavern and trying to get as many people as possible to hear our stuff.