Happy camper

John New­man is shun­ning sta­di­ums to hit the road in a camper­van for a series of in­ti­mate sur­prise gigs. MAR­ION McMULLEN finds out why the new­ly­wed is keen to in­ject some fun back into tour­ing

Llanelli Star - - SOUND OUT -

IF YOU spot a camper­van on the mo­tor­way next month there is a chance you might see singer John New­man sit­ting hap­pily be­hind the wheel. The owner of one of the most dis­tinc­tive voices around is renowned for his abil­ity to belt out an­thems that can stop au­di­ences in their tracks, and since burst­ing onto the mu­sic scene as co-writer and fea­tured vo­cal­ist on Rudi­men­tal’s 2012 clas­sic track Feel The Love, John has trav­elled the world, had three num­ber one sin­gles and head­lined leg­endary venues.

But now the York­shire­man has de­cided it is time for a change. He’s re­turn­ing to his per­form­ing roots, play­ing a series of in­ti­mate dates across the coun­try as part of The Out Of The Blue Tour.

And what bet­ter way of see­ing the coun­try than be­hind the wheel of your own mini tour ‘bus’?

“We’re still look­ing for the right camper­van,” he ad­mits with a laugh. “We might have to go out and buy one. I’m plan­ning to film a doc­u­men­tary about the tour while we are ac­tu­ally do­ing it and I want it to be quite Top Gear-like.

“We are aim­ing to do things like film the guy who has caught the big­gest fish in Whitby, and guide peo­ple around Sher­wood For­est dressed as Robin Hood.

“It’s all about hav­ing a laugh in gen­eral and en­joy­ing it. I think it’s go­ing to be like an old road­show and we’re go­ing to share the driv­ing. I’m a bit of a petrol­head, so I’m very happy when I’m driv­ing.”

He chuckles: “I wanted to be a For­mula One driver when I was grow­ing up, but I ended up too tall and fat. I’m 6ft 3in... and still grow­ing.”

The 28-year-old has twice come through surgery for brain tu­mours, but re­fuses to let his health is­sues de­fine him. He tied the knot with his Dan­ish fi­ancée Nana last year and de­clares: “This is such a pos­i­tive time of my life. To have this bond is amaz­ing.

“Mar­riage is big and it re­ally is the most amaz­ing and beau­ti­ful thing. It’s an emo­tional roller­coaster. I’ve mar­ried my best friend and we are so close. I’ve never had any­thing like this be­fore – some­one I can tell any­thing to and there is no judge­ment.”

So is John now flu­ent in Dan­ish? “It’s get­ting there,” he laughs. “I can say sen­tences, or think I can. She’s prob­a­bly just nod­ding and smil­ing at me when I speak, but I’ve been spend­ing a lot of time in Den­mark as well. That all helps.”

The Love Me Again singer is also look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to ba­sics with the new tour. He says he

was get­ting de­pressed be­ing told he needed to come up with the next hit record be­fore he could do sta­dium tours.

“I’ll al­ways sing, but some­times it has felt like smash­ing my head against a wall. I was not en­joy­ing it and I was treat­ing it like an of­fice job. That’s not me. I’m a feisty, strong North­erner, not a guy who lets peo­ple talk over them. I just wanted to do this job that I love and that I want to do for the rest of my life.”

John adds: “I want to con­nect with peo­ple. I want peo­ple to dis­cover me again and feel some­thing. My brother and I played for about 50 peo­ple in a pub the other day. Ev­ery­one in the room was silent lis­ten­ing to us and I loved it. They were not com­ing to see me be­cause they had heard a song on the ra­dio. They were just con­nect­ing with the mu­sic.

“I think it’s time now for me to go back to the start and build that again. I think it’s ego that stops some per­form­ers do­ing the small venues, but for me it is the best place to start.”

He says he will hap­pily ig­nore any flak that comes his way for play­ing in­ti­mate con­certs. “I’ve re­ally missed be­ing in smaller venues; real, hon­est, up-close gigs like the ones I used to play when I first started out.

“The thought of just turn­ing up to venues in parts of the coun­try off the beaten tour­ing cir­cuit, was very ap­peal­ing to me. The big fes­ti­val ap­pear­ances and arena shows are amaz­ing, but there’s some­thing in­cred­i­ble about per­form­ing in a small room where you can look the au­di­ence in the eye and feel that en­ergy.”

■ The Out Of The Blue Tour be­gins on June 30. Go to john­new­man.co.uk for tour de­tails.

Some­times it has felt like smash­ing my head against a wall. I was treat­ing it like an of­fice job. That’s not me...

John, far left, and his band will travel by camper­van John New­man says he has missed play­ing in more in­ti­mate mu­sic venues

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