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Jamie 'Afro' Archer interview: 'I hope to be compared to the greats'

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X Factor finalist Jamie Archer outside the Europa Hotel

© WENN

"There's a big gap for a new rock band in the market," says Jamie 'Afro' Archer. "A lot of music is bit depressing, or electronic or whatever. It's difficult for people for to turn up to a gig and just feel joy or excitement. We're trying to do that with the music we're making."

A bold statement from the man voted off sixth from The X Factor in 2009, but that's the goal of his band Archer - which reunites Jamie with his brother Stephen and guitarist Anthony Reed. We got on the phone with Jamie to talk tunes, X Factor and Britpop princes Hurricane #1.

What do Archer's songs sound like?
"I could have easily made a record which sounds like Bon Jovi or Kings of Leon or whatever, but it doesn't really sound like anything in particular. It's rock music infused with an element of dance. You get to nod your head and shake your hips at the same time. It's great."

Have you got a release date for the album?
"About February 2012. People aren't buying albums, they're cherry-picking songs they like... so we're making songs more like singles and EPs, building up our collection rather than sitting in a studio and recording 12 tracks. It'll be ready in February, but we're continuing to sew on bit-by-bit."

What's it like being in a band with your brother?
"We have some hairy moments! When I was on The X Factor, Stephen was always there helping me and advising me. We have the odd spat - it's the same with Anthony. I'd rather have an argument with someone about music and be passionate than not care about it. It's part of rock and roll. You've got to have a few fights."

Are you in touch with the X Factor class of '09?
"We exchange the odd text. I saw Olly [Murs] got to #1 - I think it's a really good song.

"I will forever be grateful for what The X Factor gave me. I'm very, very honoured to be a part of that forever, but what I'm doing and what the other guys are doing are very different things.

"I'm making music that I'm hoping one day will be compared to the greats, such as The Killers, Kings of Leon, Queen, U2. These songs are designed to be played in a stadium. They're big anthems. All of that reality TV-type thing, all that's not really for me."

You've said that you felt restricted on the show - what did you mean?
"When I did my audition I thought there's no way in hell they're going to take me on. Everyone else is singing 'Hero' by Mariah Carey or some godawful song, and I'm going up here singing 'Sex on Fire' on a family show!

"When I got through, they asked for a list of songs - I thought this is amazing, I'm going to get to really shake up The X Factor by doing something different and new, and maybe songs people don't know very well."

What songs did you want to play?
"Week one, it's Heroes week, I said I want to do 'Mr Brightside' by The Killers, and they were like 'No, no, no. It's too risky'. They said it's either 'Get It On' by T-Rex or a hard rock version of 'Careless Whisper' by a band called Seether. I was like 'Oh oh, I'm in trouble now!'.

"They didn't get that just because I had an afro, I had no interest in some '70s jokey pastiche-type thing, that's not who I am at all. I was trying to get them into some new music, some indie rock 'n' roll, and it was difficult. I wanted them to let me sing something different, chancy, a little risky, but really good as opposed to just staying safe with some bland music."

There are clips online of you singing Hurricane #1's 'Step Into My World' - were you a Britpop kid?
"Yes! I love the Britpop era, and I remember when that song came out - they did a live performance on TFI Friday. You know when you hear a song and you go 'That's special, that'. These days, I don't see a lot of proper songs in the chart.

"I see a lot of electronic music and Jessie Js and Tinie Tempahs, but a proper song - a real song with guitars and drums and bass that's really good... the last time was Kings of Leon. This song went around in my head for a long time."

Watch Archer play 'Step Into My World' at Thurrock Festival below:



We didn't really get to see your Britpop roots on The X Factor...
"I suggested that song to them in X Factor - I said 'Listen, let me do this song'. It didn't stand a chance. I know the British public would have gone, 'I don't know the song but it's a good song'. I remember very vividly having a conversation with Simon saying, 'I don't know what you guys are trying to push me as. I understand that you're just trying to keep me in the show. But I'm not that guy'.

"I'm not some '70s rocker person, it's not me. I'm into indie bands - The Killers, The Strokes - back in the day of Hurricane #1. That's what I'm into. That's what I want to perform."

Will your live shows surprise people?
"I think people will be pleasantly surprised because we've really gone out of our way to write excellent music, not bland music. I'm not interested in bland pop music.

"So many of my X Factor alumni, they've released some rubbish to be honest and I wasn't interested in that. I know I've got one shot at this... I don't wanna just be that guy who sung 'Sex on Fire' on X Factor."

Does the X Factor have a long-term future without Simon Cowell?
"I don't think the X Factor has a long term future. Shows ultimately have a time and then it ends - unless it's Coronation Street! Every show has a beginning, a middle and an end. I reckon we're about the middle-era with X Factor - I think possibly a show will come along when artists come up and do their own music."

What do you think of the new panel?
"They deserve to be there. Gary Barlow - what can you say about him? Tulisa and N-Dubz have shown that you can come out of a bad background and do something positive. Obviously Kelly Rowland, what can you say - and Louis Walsh was behind such acts as Boyzone and Westlife... some of my favourite stuff!

"I'll catch up on it. I'm particularly keen to see what Gary does, what a songwriter! I'm sure the show's going to be great, even without Simon. I'm sure he's going to pop back for the live shows or something."

Archer's debut single 'Insanity' is released on October 3. The band tour in November and December - with full details soon on the official Archer website.

Listen to a clip of Archer's 'Insanity' below:

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