One of the victims of the double elimination at the weekend was 21 year old Irish ex-rugby player and front man of the rock band “Wanted Alive”, Jeff Anderson. As the youngest in the competition, “Baby Jesus” as he was dubbed, worked hard to prove that youth is no barrier to success.
Congratulations on some superb performances Jeff.
Thank you very much. For me, as I said at the end, it was just such a privilege to be around such talent, you know what I mean. To be given time by all the judges, the vocal coaches, Donna - the acting coach and Nigel, working with him and with his live band – I was like a kid on Christmas Day.
Donna seemed quite fierce on the TV, is she the same in real life?
She is lovely. Everyone is obviously very intimidated but, for me, I like that very aggressive approach to training as it is, and I think it really works it into your system. I have so much respect for her and the massive amount of effort that she put into each and every one of us with our acting, our performance and the more lyrical side of things.
How much did you learn along the way?
Oh, wow, it’s like night and day. You know when I was 18, I applied for Guildford and they said my voice wasn’t mature enough and I basically went home and started the band and we toured all round Ireland, both North and South, and I think that probably trained my voice a bit, but when I got here it was literally like an intense crash course of extreme training.
Yvie Burnett, the vocal coach, has brought stuff out of my voice that I never thought I could do - my range has gone up to five and a half octaves, which I am very happy with. So, they have just brought everything that they could out of me and, in a few years when I get to the so-called “prime age” I should be able to compete with just about anyone.
Of all the ways to leave a show, simply being told that you are too young has to be one of the best.
Yes, I think that it’s the best way I could have been told because Andrew basically said you’re going to be Jesus but, at the minute, you’re just too young so I respect that and, of course, every day I looked at Roger and always thought to myself that he has to be the safest bet, no matter what, because not only is he the oldest, but he has the experience behind him too.
You know, singing to millions of people on live television for a week gave me probably a better experience than most people my age, even those that are in the colleges. It was such a privilege and an honour to meet such well respected people.
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity when I applied in Belfast, it was back in March when I did the first audition, and then to get through to the final 100 for call backs, I was blown away. Then to go through the next stages and get to the camp and then to the finals it really was a total cliché – it was “the dream”- and I even got to sing Led Zeppelin before I went home.
I hope you’ll get to see all these programmes at some time.
Oh, don’t you worry, I’ve Sky plus’d it all! I am really looking forward to going home and watching it on my big flat screen TV because so far I’ve only seen bits on my iPad.
Do you have any plans now or will you just wait and see what happens?
Well, basically, a few people have spoken to me and there seems to be a few options for the theatre and there’s a pretty mega option for my band “Wanted Alive” because our songs just went out on iTunes last week and they have been bought by people in all four of the UK countries, Ireland and even as far as America – so I’m happy as Larry about that.
Maybe a career as a rock star beckons?
It could be yes, but you see I am this rock singer from a rock band, but I’m also the musical theatre “geek” too. I was inspired, as a very young kid, with Les Mis. and the roles of Valjean and Javert. I went and saw Love Never Dies six times because I thought that the West End production was absolutely phenomenal. I have no idea why it had to close but, if it ever re-opens …well, you know…I’m available
The nicest thing was that, after the show in private, Andrew Lloyd Webber said to me that he is sure our paths will cross a lot in the future and he even said to me that I am not a Raoul, I’m a Phantom and for him to say that to me – I was just absolutely gob-smacked. My mouth was so wide open that I was catching flies!
Compliments don’t get any better than that, especially when you are talking to “The Lord” himself. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself when you are talking to him one-to-one because you can’t quite believe that you are in that kind of situation, and to get the kind of positive feedback that I did - I have not actually shed a tear about being out yet because I have just been so happy at being involved in the whole experience.