SINCE winning Britain’s Got Talent, Collabro’s diary has been a whirlwind of Touring, recording studios, TV appearances & International travel!
The four-piece musical theatre group swept to victory on the ITV reality show in June 2014 and won a £250,000 cash prize as well as a much-coveted slot on The Royal Variety Show.
The band went on to sign with Simon Cowell’s Syco Music & their career has gone from strength to strength here in the UK & Internationally.
They released their debut album ‘Stars’ which smashed in to the no.1 spot beating Ed Sheeran in the process and at the time being the fastest selling album for a debut act. A Christmas released special edition of ‘Stars’ followed to further their domination of the charts.
A sell-out 32 date UK tour started at the beginning of 2015, which saw the band play in prestigious venues such at The London Palladium and perform to over 55,000 people!! They did the same again in early 2016 with a sell-out date London’s Royal Albert Hall.
2015 saw the band release their 2nd album ‘Act Two’ which charted at No.2, beaten by Florence & The Machine. The band have sold over 300,000 albums in just a year! Not bad for 4 guys that were completely unknown just one year before.
Collabro have played shows in America, Japan & Hong Kong, where they have been greatly received with great demand for future shows.
2016 saw the boys embark upon another, larger tour, this time selling out venues such as London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The band – Michael Auger, Jamie Lambert, Matt Pagan and Tom Redgrave – first got together in a north London pub.
Having met through mutual friends and on social media, the four young men planned to spend some time rehearsing a few songs they could then use to audition for cruise ships and international tours.
Each night, those who didn’t live in the capital had to trek back to their £30-a-night hotel to contend with dodgy electrics, no hot water, and bed bugs.
It was an inauspicious start to life in a band, and the boys admit they were facing an uncertain future.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for their success on BGT, the boys might have gone back to their day jobs – which included accounting, teaching, and working in a petrol station.
Jamie says, “During that time, I got offered a couple of cruise ship jobs: one in particular was very well paid and it would have been good, steady work with a chance to see the world.
“But I turned them down in favour of Collabro, even though we were scraping money together to keep going.
“But I just had a feeling about Collabro. We’d only just met, but our voices sounded good together and we got on really well. I just felt it was worth a shot.”
Jamie was right to trust his intuition.
Just five months after meeting for the first time, Collabro won Britain’s Got Talent.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Collabro were born in November, 2013.
Jamie and Matt knew each other through Facebook, as both were working for a production team which staged shows for tourists in Thompson hotels across Europe.
When a mutual friend and choreographer suggested they meet up to discuss forming a band, Jamie and Matt jumped at the chance.
After advertising for more band members, Tom and Michael turned up at auditions in a London dance studio and a quartet was formed.
The group met up for the first time in January, 2014, in the aforementioned pub, and began rehearsing.
They soon discovered their voices blended perfectly, and they all had the same taste in music.
Says Matt, “I have sung in groups before, and thought we sounded good. But it was nothing compared to the sound I made with these four guys.
“There was definitely something special about it. It kind of gave me shivers.”
There was only one problem: their styling.
Matt explains, “The original plan was to have us in dinner jackets so we could audition for cruise ships.
“But we had Tom who was wearing tank tops, with a nose ring and tattoos on display.
“So it made more sense to go with that young and fresh style, and try to appeal to a younger audience instead.”
The band played a few gigs: a mini-tour of Pontins holiday camps, and some showcase performances.
Then they decided to apply for BGT: a decision that has shaped the rest of their lives.
Their first audition at Hammersmith Apollo saw a standing ovation from all four judges: Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams.
Amanda had tears in her eyes.
From that day on, they never performed without receiving a standing ovation.
Yet as Tom says, they “never dared to hope” they would win the competition.
Ever modest, his mobile phone screensaver is a screen grab of the moment Collabro were told they were in the top three of the final. Each member’s face is frozen in shock.
Much to their surprise, they won the competition, beating duo Bars and Melody and opera singer Lucy Kay.
“I cried all night,” says Jamie. “Our families ran on stage and it was just the most amazing moment. We honestly couldn’t believe it.”
Just a few days later, Collabro were sitting in the offices of Syco, sipping champagne and staring at the framed pictures around them.
All around them were reminders of how big their future could be. Il Divo. One Direction. Susan Boyle. Leona Lewis.
“None of it sunk in for me until that moment,” says Jamie. “Then it hit me like a sledgehammer.”
Michael, 24, from Petersfield, Hampshire.
Michael has never suffered from a lack of confidence when it comes to performing.
He admits, “In all our home videos, I’m the one coming up to the camera and singing away. I just naturally loved it.”
But he didn’t intend to become a professional singer at first, and excelled at school, doing an impressive five A-levels in maths, further maths, biology, chemistry and geography.
In fact, Michael was applying to study medicine at university and dreamed of being a doctor until one particularly squeamish incident put him off for life.
“I did some work experience placements while I was doing my A-levels,” he explains. “I did one with a GP and absolutely loved it.
“But then I did one with a surgeon. A guy was having a vasectomy and he was conscious.
“The surgeon asked, ‘Can you feel this?’, and the guy kind of screamed, ‘Yeeees!’, and I could see all this blood everywhere.
“I was in scrubs and it was really warm.
“I passed out! They had to escort me out. It was so embarrassing.
“So I decided medicine wasn’t for me, and applied to do accountancy and finance instead.
“My sister was moving in with the guy who’s now her husband and I thought, ‘God, I need to grow up, I need to start thinking about how I’ll provide for my family one day’.
“I decided that being an accountant would be a good, stable thing to do.”
Michael had played Oliver in an am-dram production as a child, and played guitar and piano.
But it was only during his second year at university that he was persuaded to join the AmDram society and appeared in a production of Footloose.
Thoughts of becoming an accountant were beginning to fade by now, and instead Michael went to the London School of Music and Theatre on a year-long diploma, graduating in the summer of 2013.
But getting a job proved hard, and he had to work in a petrol station to make ends meet while he went to a series of auditions.
“I got to the final two in one audition to play an elf in a panto!” he says. “But I didn’t get that.
“I’d said to my family that if I hadn’t got a job after a year of auditions, then I’d stop trying and go back to accountancy.”
Luckily, the Collabro audition came along in the meantime, and Michael is now set for the creative career he dreamed of.
“Of all the guys, I guess my story’s the weirdest,” he admits. “It’s only really recently that I’ve got into singing.
“I’ve always seen singing as extra-curricular, so to make that my career is absolutely amazing!”
In The Zoo, Michael is the part of The Peacock.
He says, “The others seem to think I take the longest to get ready, which actually isn’t true!
“Although to be fair, I will probably check my hair out if I go past a mirror, to be fair. I think appearance is important in this industry, although I’m the least fashionable of the group in terms of clothes.
“But I don’t mind. I’d rather be called The Peacock than The Warthog or something, I suppose!”
Jamie, 24, from Rickleton, near Washington.
Of all the boys, Jamie is perhaps the most experienced singer, having travelled Europe to perform.
Yet he too had a bumpy ride to where he is today.
He first went to Glasgow University to study Spanish but was miserable and wanted to drop out.
“I absolutely hated it,” he says. “It was so cold there!
“And although I hadn’t been much of a homebird previously, in hindsight I just wasn’t ready to live that far from home and not go home to see my family whenever I wanted.
“I had sung a lot as a teenager but it all went out the window during my A-levels because I was busy working in a pub while studying and I just didn’t have time for anything else.
“Then I didn’t bother much at Glasgow because I was so unhappy and I couldn’t be bothered.”
Luckily Jamie was allowed to transfer to Leeds, where he was instantly happier and rediscovered his love of music.
He joined the Opera Society, where he played Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro.
He then spent a year studying and working in Madrid, where he trained in the Royal Opera House, and later toured Europe in a big band as one of three singers.
He smiles, “That was amazing. There was a lot of alcohol involved in that trip! And a lot of fun.”
Travelling has always been hobby for Jamie.
As a 15-year-old, he had to raise £5,000 for a trip to Namibia to help build an orphanage.
He raised the cash by getting people to sponsor him to sing in front of many people as possible: after 18 months of gigging, he had sung to a grand total of 28,000 people including Tony Blair, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and former Newcastle United goalkeeper Shay Given.
But his dream was always to work in musical theatre: a dream that took a long time to realise.
After moving to London in January 2013, Jamie applied for a series of auditions.
But as time went by and he hadn’t landed any parts, Jamie was beginning to feel dispirited.
“I was called for Miss Saigon, Les Miserables. I had a series of failed auditions until this band, basically.
“I had three or four jobs to keep myself afloat, including working for the NHS negotiating contracts with suppliers, and teaching music to children.
“I think musical theatre can be a very depressing industry if you’re not getting anywhere.
“For a musical theatre singer who hasn’t worked, 24 is quite old. And I can’t dance!
“I was competing against 21-year-olds who are fresh-faced and can sing and dance. It’s not an easy life to lead.
“I was doing some corporate gigs and being offered cruise ships, but when Collabro formed, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
“It’s the music I love, with an amazing group of guys, and even better – we get to make our own record!”
In The Zoo, Jamie is The Giraffe.
At 6′ 3″, his nickname was given to him for an obvious reason.
“I’m the tallest in the band, so that was kind of a given that I’d be The Giraffe. It’s a good nickname. I’ll take that!”
Matt, 20, from Carlisle
Matt has always been musical, playing the trumpet, guitar, piano and drums as a child.
But he suffered crippling shyness at school when it came to performing, and refused to sing.
“I preferred to hide at the back of the school orchestra and just do my thing with whatever instrument I was playing,” he says.
“I never wanted to sing or perform. I didn’t sing at all until I was about 14.
Then one day, a singer for the school Christmas concert had to drop out due to illness, and Matt was forced to step in.
He says, “It was Little Drummer Boy. And actually, it went alright! So I did a bit more singing after that.”
Performances in Grease and Oliver followed, but Matt’s passion at that point was in cookery.
He had a part-time job as a chef from the age of 14 and wanted to become a professional after school.
With a dinner lady mum and maintenance engineer dad, Matt had no bigger ambitions until joining the Stage Right theatre group and taking part in their annual shows.
After getting the bug performing in Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story, and Me and My Girl, Matt decided to break out as a solo singer.
Armed with a backing track operated by his dad, Matt hit the pubs and clubs circuit around the north west of England, singing swing tracks.
And the experience made him into the man he is today.
“You have to banter with the audience when you’re in those sorts of venues,” he explains. “You can’t just stand there and knock out the songs or they lose interest.
“I learned how to chat away and connect with the audience.
“Now, in Collabro, I’ve been the one leading that kind of interaction.
“My confidence has built up so much. Considering that six years ago I refused to sing at all, I’ve come a pretty long way!”
Matt’s only really professional job has been appearing in panto with Maureen Nolan in Christmas 2013 as Prince Lorenzo.
He was looking around for more work when Collabro formed: and was overjoyed to join the band.
Matt’s part in The Zoo is The Monkey.
He says, “They made me The Monkey because they think I’m a cheeky chappy. And I guess I wouldn’t disagree with that!”
Tom, 24, from Louth, Lincolnshire.
It’s just as well Tom has finally made it as a singer: because he reckons he is hopeless at every other job he has tried!
Tom tried to hold down a number of jobs to fund his way through a Performing Arts BTEC followed by a degree in Musical Theatre For Actors.
But he admits he was often fired from being a waiter because of his sloppy style.
“I wasn’t very punctual when I was younger,” he confesses. “I didn’t manage to keep a job for more than a month!
“I wasn’t very good. I can’t remember ever having a stable job, ever. I got fired quite a few times.
“I wasn’t really as professional as I am now. Obviously now, I’m very punctual!”
Brought up in rural Lincolnshire, Tom says there wasn’t much to do other than stare at sheep, cows and tractors.
So he joined the local church choir aged seven, then the amateur theatre group aged eight, and discovered he had a talent for singing.
“There wasn’t anything else that I wanted to do,” he says. “And there really wasn’t very much to do where I grew up.
“So if it hadn’t been for the theatre, I don’t know what on earth I’d be doing now.”
After graduating from Thames Valley University, Tom toured Italy for six months in a musical version of Hamlet.
After coming home, he managed to hold down a job as a waiter in a Japanese restaurant for a few months while occasionally taking small jobs for corporate events or touring schools.
But the big job was proving elusive.
“I was constantly auditioning,” he says. “But I was constantly being rebuffed.
“I’d get to the final ten and then no further, and you’d go, ‘Urgh’ and move on. It’s quite hard to keep being rejected.
“But this is all I’ve ever wanted. Singing is the only thing I can do!
“Collabro came along at the perfect time for me. I’m so happy.
“And so much of it feels like fate.
“It’s really important in a group that you all get on well so it was nerve-racking to meet everyone for the first time, but we’ve gelled brilliantly.
“The name ‘Collabro’ comes from that idea that our voices harmonise so nicely, but also we gel so well as personalities, too.
“We’re hoping to bring something really new to the industry.
“Musical theatre hasn’t had the most trendy demographic but we want to show people that it can be exciting and young and fresh.”
Tom is The Lion Cub in The Zoo. He says, “It’s because I’m a bit quirky. And supposedly small and cute! I am 5′ 9″ actually which is not that small but I am the smallest in the group.”