McFly tell Jade Wright about their reinvention, why they love Liverpool and what it’s like to be all grown up
FORGET those cheeky young whippersnappers who set teenage hearts a flutter, McFly are back, but they are all grown up. The quartet who grew up in front of an audience of screaming girls have put their teenage days behind them.
“Now it’s all ‘can we see the wine list again please’,” laughs singer Tom Fletcher, now a ripe old 25. “Last night we were out for dinner and Dougie ordered the cheese board and he was asking for a special wine to go with it.”
Dougie Poynter, 23, the chiselled cheekboned bassist, holds his hands up: “You know you’re growing up when you stop ordering the chocolate fudge cake and you want the cheese board. “Or if you do get the cake, you order dessert wine to go with it.”
They all collapse into laughter.
They’re back in Liverpool to promote their latest tour, which calls in at the ECHO arena next month.
As I arrive, they’re in one of the arena’s corporate hospitality boxes, competing as to who can sing the loudest across the empty arena floor.
“When we started out, we were what, 17?” explains Tom. “We were thrown into this crazy world of touring where we had so much freedom in some ways, and so little in others. We could order room service and mess around all day to an extent, but then we always made the decision that when it came to time to work, we’d work.”
And work they certainly did. Unlike many teenage boybands, they wrote all their songs and kept control of their own affairs.
They were founded after Tom missed out on an audition for boyband Busted. Instead, the record company asked him if he’d help write songs for them.
He met Danny Jones (24), who had gone to an audition for a different band by mistake, and they recruited Dougie and Harry Judd (now 25) from an advert in the NME.
“Contrary to what a lot of people think, we were signed as a band. We weren’t put together.” clarifies Tom.
They were a hit. Their first album, Room on the 3rd Floor, debuted at number one in the UK album chart, making them the youngest band ever to have an album debut at the top of the charts – a title taken from The Beatles.
Now, almost nine years after they formed, McFly have managed to cram a comeback and a package that includes a revolutionary new ‘super’ website, into one.
The website provides worldwide fans with unrivalled access to the band; it has citizens rather than visitors where fans can subscribe to access further content including albums, demos and web chats.
This is McFly version 2.0. Dougie, Danny, Harry and Tom are about to go ballistic once more.
“We can’t wait to play Liverpool again,” says Harry, looking out over the floor of the ECHO arena. “This is such a great place to do a gig. We loved playing the Empire too, but this place really is something else.”
This tour takes in the UK, and after that, the world.
“First MySpace and then Twitter were very kind to us,” notes Dougie. It’s certainly helped them to conquer the globe, one continent at a time.
“When we got to Mexico we couldn’t quite believe it,” says Harry.
“People were camping out for two weeks to buy tickets,” adds Danny, “We had to have an escort to our cars in Sao Paulo. 5Five hundred fans were waiting at the airport.’”
Without a label or any records released they had become a worldwide hit.
“It was complete carnage,” says Tom, “In Britain we just hit an immediate market, internationally it seemed like that market had to find us themselves.”
It seems the fans turn up wherever they travel.
Outside the ECHO arena, there’s a crowd of girls outside hoping to catch a glimpse of them.
“It was even crazier at radio City,” explains Danny. “There were like 300 of them. That’s the most we’ve had. And they were really great, and really loud.”
The lads have been away for a couple of years, touring the world, then recording their album in Altanta, with producer Dallas Austin.
“We flew into America from Madrid and from the moment we landed it was mad,” says Tom. “We’d heard Dallas had a bit of a party reputation. We got to his studio, an amazing, slightly intimidating place – there were discs for Boyz II Men and Michael Jackson on the wall – and we played him some demos and explained what we were thinking for the new sound.
“It was all going really well and then he got a text message through on his phone and said ‘so do you boys want to come and meet Elton John, then?’
“He was in Atlanta at the time and was supposed to be going for dinner that night. Dallas said he was meeting up with us and Elton said, ‘OK, bring them along. I’d like to meet them.’ We were so tired. It’s 10 o’clock at night by now and we’re jetlagged.”
“It couldn’t have got off to a better start,” adds Danny. “Elton told us that he played his first ever show at the end of the road we live on. It was such an honour to meet him. Then we went back to the studio and Dallas said ‘I’m DJing at a club, come!’ Then we got into a fight. With the only English man in the club.”
We should establish that this was a verbal altercation, no fists were thrown.
“We’re lovers, man, not fighters,” laughs Danny. “So we got absolutely smashed.”
“And that,” says Dougie, “Was basically what recording with Dallas was like. Absolutely mad. He’s a genuinely cool guy.”
“And,” adds Danny, “An open door to the best strip clubs in the world.”
Yes, McFly were growing up under some auspicious musical wings.
“What was amazing to us,” says Tom, “Was that he really liked and respected us. We recorded the first melody line for Party Girl into his phone in a club. We’d do an hour in the studio and then three hours out somewhere. That one hour in the studio was worth every ten hours we’d done before.”
The new material has a robust edge.
“We just didn’t have any fear,” says Tom, “We learnt to completely rethink what McFly could be.”
McFly play the ECHO arena Liverpool on March 29. Tickets are available from the ECHO ticketline on 0844 800.