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Tuesday 02 November 2021

Interview: Il Divo On Touring After Lockdowns & Bringing Their Christmas Show To The Brighton Centre

The original classical cross-over group Il Divo return to The Brighton Centre in December for a tour which will see them perform all their greatest hits and festive classics live.
David Miller

Carlos Marin, Urs Buhler, Sebastien Izambard and David Miller where brought together 15 years ago and spearheaded an entirely new musical genre with their ground-breaking debut album. 

No strangers to festive spirit, Il Divo released the platinum selling Christmas Collection studio album in 2005 selling over 1 million copies in the US alone:

Q/ How does it feel getting ready to get back out in front of a live audience on your Christmas with Il Divo tour after the industry was closed for so long due to the pandemic?

David Miller (DM): "We're musicians, who love making music. But we're performers on top of that. Interacting with the audience it really fuels what we do as artists. Earlier this year we did a live broadcast so that our fans could have something to enjoy of our music. For me it was the weirdest experience of all time. Trying to banter back and forth with each other and banter with an audience that wasn"t there… I have missed it terribly. It's been really hard."

Urs Bühler (UB): "For me as well it's been very strange. I kinda cherished the time to be home and do stuff I love besides Il Divo, because we haven't had much free time since we started almost 18 years ago. In the beginning we thought: 'In a couple of months we'll be out there again' and it's been almost two years now. In my heart I come back to Il Divo, being on stage and performing – that"s where I want to be. Even though I've tried other things, that's where I wanna go back to ASAP. I'm incredibly excited it looks like that's finally going to happen in the UK in December."

Carlos Marin (CM): "Being off the stage for two years has been really hard. The good thing is when we did the live stream for Mother's Day on the eighth of May we went to the States to do it. The strangest thing has been recording the Motown album not being all together. Seb, David and Urs were in America. I was in Spain. Alberto Quintero, who was the producer, was working with them via Skype at 2am his time then with me in Spain going to the studio, sometimes also with him on Skype. It's been an interesting way to do this album. The end result was fantastic. We are really excited to start in the UK in December. From then on we have already about 100 shows for next year.

Q/ What can we expect from the Christmas show?

Sébastian Izambard (SI): "It's a show that we've luckily played here in the US. It's a lot of the big standards on our Christmas album that we recorded. It's such a beautiful show because it's classic songs. We have a lot of Christmas lighting, a Christmas tree on stage. It"s very warm and cosy. The audience is in that festive mood and it brings people together. Playing in the UK for me personally is something I'm really looking forward to because I find it's stunning at Christmas. I lived in the UK for 10 years and there's something really special about it that I don't find in other countries. It's a sense of family, getting together - and we also switched on the Christmas lights maybe 16 years ago. It's very symbolic to me to be able to share our traditional music to the UK audience."

There's a worry there may be a shortage of Christmas trees in the UK this year so people might have to go for artificial rather than real ones.

(UB): "We can dress Carlos up as a Christmas tree."

(SI): "What about if we get some pine-scented air freshener and we pump it into the theatre?"

Q/: Which Christmas memories do tracks from this tour"s setlist evoke in your minds?

(DM): "Most of the time it doesn't matter if it's a Christmas song or one of the Il Divo originals or one of the covers that we've done, I'm always trying to keep myself in the present moment and paying attention to the words. I'm worried about vocal technique and things like that. I don't really take the time to stop and think about the emotions that are being evoked from the songs. Now I'm thinking about it I'm having this memory of being a kid. There's one particular Christmas that my parents had gotten me a drum kit. I was about six-years-old and just recently broken my arm playing at the park, so I wasn't actually even able to use my Christmas present. It was terribly disappointing. That aspect of it aside, the idea of family, togetherness, and closeness – my family was very small. It was me and my two sisters and parents. My dad was in the Navy and we moved around every couple of years so we really just had that family unit. Christmas was the time that we really spent concentratedly together. It means family and togetherness. All of these songs evoke a different quality of that."

Q/: What preparation do you do in order to get your bodies and voices in shape for going on tour, particularly after so long off the road?

(DM): "I think each one of us has methods of keeping fit. There's physical fitness, vocal fitness, mental fitness, and emotional fitness. Each one of these things has different needs at different times. One thing I've found out from these two years of being at home is really having the time and space. Being on the road is an unpredictable process in a lot of ways. You"re going from city to city to hotel to hotel and sometimes you don't get time at the hotel. Maybe the hotel has a gym or doesn't, so every day it"s trying to navigate how to stay fit, how to eat fit and trying to get enough rest. Number one is getting enough rest. On such an unpredictable schedule going from different time zones that's one we always try to do. Try to hydrate. During this pandemic I've really had time to set a routine with working out. I've downloaded some apps to help me track my fitness goals and I've been systematically trying to keep on it. If I don't spend that excess energy I start to go a little stir crazy. I get antsy in my mind or emotions. For me working it out every day for half an hour every morning - going for a run down the mountain or doing some weights – it sets my tone for the rest of the day. Going on tour in the UK luckily we know all the places but I'm curious if I'm going to be able to maintain this fitness. I feel like I"m in the best shape of my life and don't know if I'm going to be able to maintain that when I go back on the road, but I hope so."

Q/: Are there any UK cities you have particularly fond memories of?

(SI): "Brighton is a really cool place. I've never experienced it in the winter. I see we're playing in Bath and have never performed there before. I love Somerset as a countryside. Bath is such a stunning old town with so much history. That's what I like about the UK .. "

Q/: Do you have any hidden musical talents or sounds you like to explore?

(UB): "I always thought we should do a metal ballads album. I don't know how our audience would react to that but there is so much great repertoire classic rock-metal ballads that would sound fantastic with our voices I think."

(DM): "There's loads of recordings on YouTube of orchestral versions of these songs. If we were to do something like that, that could make a lot of sense."

(UB): "It's not that crazy of an idea."

Il Divo play the Brighton Centre on Saturday 4th December 2021. For tickets CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley


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