Bradford-born Gareth Gates won over the nation with his appearance on the first series of Pop Idol in 2002. In spite of losing to Will Young, Gareth subsequently released a string of albums to great fanfare.
Having veered into Musical Theatre, he has starred in shows such as “Les Misérables”, “Legally Blonde” and “Footloose”.
Now, he’s back on the road with Michael Courtney, performing in “Mad About The Musicals”.
Here, in an exclusive interview with “Pulse” author Steve Rudd, Gareth talks about what it’s like to be so busy…
Q. Hi Gareth, how are things, and how has 2016 treated you so far?
A. It’s been so busy! I finished panto, and then I started in “Footloose” the next day! And now I’m doing “Mad About The Musicals.”
I’m so lucky that I’m so busy; it’s been a great year so far!
Q. Given how busy you are, how on earth do you manage to keep up with everything?
Do you have any special sleeping or eating habits that help you to maintain the high-energy levels required by such an intense schedule?
A. Well, since losing my voice a couple of years ago, I’ve changed my diet. Now I eat really healthily and I’m at the gym every day.
I also spend as much time with my daughter, Missy, as possible… which is the best tonic of all!
Q. Much of your time is now dedicated to “Mad About The Musicals”. How did you first get involved with the show, and what do you enjoy the most about performing in it?
A. I did the first leg of the show last year, and it went so well that we had to add more dates this year.
We simply couldn’t get around to everyone last year!
Q. Growing up, did you go to see any musicals? If so, which ones had the most impact on you?
A. At the age of five, I played one of the Siamese children in “The King and I” at The Alhambra in Bradford.
In preparation for the role, I had to watch the show a few times. That was the first musical I ever saw!
Q. “Mad About The Musicals” primarily features you and Michael Courtney. What’s it like working alongside Michael?
A. It’s a laugh! Michael has such great knowledge of so many musicals.
Even though he’s a producer, he performs as well, so that’s really different for me. It’s a really good team to work with. Michael and I have so much fun on stage!
Q. You’ve performed in all manner of stage-shows over the years, including “Les Mis”, “Legally Blonde”, and “Joseph”. Did you find it easy to transition from your career in pop to life in theatre?
A. I actually started off in “Joseph” at school, and I think I always wanted to get back there.
I have such a love for theatre and I’ve been able to fulfil some of my dream roles. And I hope there will be more in the future!
Q. So what were the highlights of your most recent tour as a “Footloose” cast member?
A. It was amazing for me to play the comedy role for a change! I’m always the male lead or a prince, which is great in itself, but to be the one who gets all the laughs was different!
The film actually came out in the year of my birth: 1984! I love eighties music!
Q. Somehow, you still find time to perform with your own band! Have you written anything new lately, and are we likely to see another Gareth Gates album in shops any time soon?
A. Well, I’ve literally not stopped for the last six or seven years.
I’ve started to write some new music, which is good, especially since I’m older and have more experiences to sing about. I’m really proud of what I’ve done so far.
Hopefully it will be finished soon!
Q. Looking back, if you hadn’t appeared on Pop Idol almost 15 years ago, what do you think you might have doing for a job these days? Do you still think you would have been singing?
A. Music has always been my life. As a child, I wasn’t able to speak due to my stammer, so singing and playing instruments was my only form of release. As a result, music became my life.
I was accepted into the Royal Northern School of Music and then I auditioned for Pop Idol. If I hadn’t done that, music would still have been in my life in some way.
Q. Overall, which moments stand out the most from the past fifteen years?
A. Two moments stand out to me. One is professional; one is personal.
Getting to Number One for the first time was the “professional” moment.
I was thrilled to make the top of the charts, and I went on to have four Number Ones after that.
My personal highlight was becoming a dad. My daughter is my “work” and her being born was my proudest moment.
Q. Do you have any regrets?
A. No. I don’t think you should have regrets. Having said that, I do regret not beating Will Young! Joke!
Q. What do you enjoy doing away from the limelight?
A. Well, I’m enjoying being a businessman!
I’ve just created a brand new range of coconut tea called Cuppanut and I’m enjoying the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
A. Always run your own race. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing; concentrate on what you are doing.
l For more information about Gareth, visit www.garethgates.com or www.facebook.com/garethgates.
l Gareth will be appearing alongside Michael Courtney in Mad About The Musicals at Bridlington Spa on Tuesday 31 May.
Visit www.thespabridlington.com for more details.
l Copies of Steve’s first book Pulse can be ordered for £10 by sending a cheque (made payable to Mr. S. Rudd) to 110 The Mount, Driffield, YO25 5JN.
Visit www.steverudd.co.uk or www.valleypressuk.com/authors/steverudd for more information.