Simon Cowell took a risk when he decided to form a classical quartet in 2004, but to say it paid off would be an understatement.
Il Divo – formed of American tennor David Miller, Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, Swiss tenor Urs Buhler and Frenchman Sébastien Izambard – have sold more than 26 million albums in their impressive career, and are now on the verge of driving that figure even higher with their brand new offering.
Wicked Game is the group’s sixth studio set, their first in three years, and ahead of its release Entertainmentwise caught up with them to chat collaborations, career highlights and stolen shoes…
Q: You’re back! New album out, what can fans expect?
Urs: Best Il Divo album ever. Can confidently say it’s the best Il Divo album. It is deeper, it is more dramatic, it is luscious, we’ve spent a lot of time…
David: And a lot of money!
Urs: And a lot of money. It was supposed to come out last year, but it was not good enough, we were not happy with what we had at that point. We just worked on and on, trying to find a better repertoire, make the arrangements perfect, re-record vocals that did not sound passionate enough… we’ve done everything we could to make this the best Il Divo album ever, and I think we succeeded.
Q: How has the pressure to sell a certain amount changed with each album?
David: I think it’s got more. Numbers being what they are in the industry, the amount of piracy and downloading is creating a very big difficulty for the whole industry. Not just music, movies and everything – everything is available to just go steal it for free. So trying to get the record company to still be willing to invest in what you have really does say soemthing about what we do. They clearly do value us as one of their big artists that we’re willing to support. So we obviously want to create something that is top notch, of the highest calibre, in order to live up to that investment. And as Urs said, I think we’ve done that. The amount of detail, work that we’ve put into this, I think puts it head and shoulders above anything else we’ve done.
Sebastian: Head and Shoulders? Isn’t that a shampoo?
David: Our music is like dandruff. It keeps coming back!
Q: Stronger than before?
David: Yes! [Laughs] Maybe that’s not the best expression.
Q: If you had to pick a highlight of what you’ve achieved so far, what would that be?
Sebastien: There are so many, we’ve done so much. I think we are not that kind of band that looks back and thinks ‘we’ve done this, we’ve done that’. We have this tendency to look ahead at what we can do, and things that are achievable. There’s so many things going on. Singing at 2012 Olympics would be amazing, I don’t know if that’s gonna happen. The Royal Wedding, that didn’t happen. [Laughs] We have done the World Cup, performed with Barabra Streisand, Toni Braxton, Celine Dion… we’ve done a lot of things. But singing with Eminem, or Jessie J… we’d love to do something completely different.
Q: When you first started out, did you have any honest expectations as to how long you’d be around for?
Sebastien: I did.
Carlos: You did?
Sebastian: I knew exactly.
David: I knew we were gonna be sitting in this room. As of this morning, when they gave me a slip of paper that said ‘You’re gonna be in this room this morning’, I knew where I was gonna be!
Sebastien: But in case you might write ‘we knew we were gonna be successful’, I didn’t think ever we were gonna be able to travel the world, it’s an amazing surprise.
Q: People of all ages seem to be Il Divo fans. What kind of demographic do you get at your concerts?
Carlos: It’s a really wide range. It’s unbelievable. But it depends where you go. If you go to Latin America, Spain, they’re quite young. In the UK, it’s more mature. It depends. In Korea, in the South East, we have fans that are teenagers. It’s amazing.
David: It’s a family event. Women showing up in groups, girls night out, bringing their husbands, bringing their kids, it’s a very Disney, G-rated concert.
Q: How do you guys look ahead to the future? Are you hoping to carry on for as long as possible, are you taking it one album at a time, do you have an end-date in mind…?
David: I think it all comes as one. We do take it one album at a time, because we have to focus on the next step ahead of us in order to give it 100%. That being said, we continue to give it that because we want it to go on forever. Like Sebastian said, you can’t know where it’s going to go, but you can look at where you’ve been and, maybe not put too much stock in it and say ‘We want to go on forever’… no matter how many accolades you get, you can’t guarantee your future. So you really have to stay in the moment,and be present with it.
Sebastian: And it’s really up to the audience, the people who allow you to go further. You can only give them the best, but if they don’t like it…
Q: You’ve mentioned a few of your highlights, but looking back at your past gigs, do you have any noteable disaster stories?
Urs: We have never had a gig that didn’t go wrong, but we’ve had funny stories. David fell flat on his face once. For us it was quite funny!
Carlos: There was a fan who stole Sebastien’s boot!
David: We sat on the front of the stage and audience would run forward, and suddenly we heard “Someone has my shoe!”, as we’re singing the song!
Q: And you never saw it again?
Carlos: Never saw it on eBay either.
Sebastien: I sold the other one! For a charity.
Q: What are your personal music tastes like? Do you have any favourites that might surprise people?
Urs: Heavy metal.
Carlos: Tom Jones.
Sebastien: Coldplay, Radiohead, Tito Puente, Brazillian music… everything! I just love music!
David: I love everything, I like electronica. Dance music, house music…
Q: Are there any people doing the rounds at the moment who you think it would be interesting to collaborate with?
Sebastien: Jessie J, Eminems…
Urs: It’s Eminem! There’s only one!
David: M&Ms? As in the red and the yellow?
Sebastien: Bruno Mars and I’d love to sing with Beyonce.
David: I’d like to sing with…
David: Yes! That was what I was going to say.
Wicked Game is released on November 28.