Recently, Thomas Redgrave’s group Collabro have announced they’ll be releasing their seventh studio album Be Still My Soul in October, and they have already released one of the singles from the album – Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. Since Collabro won Series 8 of Britain’s Got Talent in 2014, they have toured a number of times, and this year, they’ll be heading out on their The Christmas is Here Tour, opening on 29th November in Sheffield at City Hall before playing venues around the UK including the final date of the tour at Portsmouth Guildhall on Friday 16th December. Having toured with artists such as Katherine Jenkins, Aled Jones and Cliff Richard, Collabro duetted with Cliff Richard last year on their new Mistletoe & Wine release. Alongside his career with Collabro, Thomas is an avid gamer and has previously streamed on Twitch, and he has starred in pantomimes with Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and the 2021 Chesterfield pantomime Beauty and the Beast playing Gaston. Catching up with Thomas, he told us about Collabro’s upcoming seventh studio album Be Still My Soul, their recent release of Bridge Over Troubled Water and playing Gaston in Beauty and the Beast.
Your group Collabro has recently announced their new album Be Still My Soul, can you tell us about your seventh studio album?
We’ve heard a lot of the fans say that they’d love to hear just our voices on older songs separate from the full mix of instruments. With that in mind, we released some of the isolated vocals on Patreon. They went down so well that we thought it would be a good idea for a full album and when thinking of the kind of songs that would suit a more a cappella style of singing, hymns stood out as a genre of music we thought we could bring something really special to. We’ve also peppered in some of our favourite pop tracks such as Tears In Heaven while keeping the arrangement on theme with the more religious songs.
What has it been like to record and how long were you working on it?
It feels like we’ve been sitting on this album for quite a while. We started discussing making a new album mid to late 2021 and were in the recording studio in January 2022. Album artwork took a little while as we went through a few iterations before deciding on the cover as it is today. There are a lot of factors that go into releasing an album, it just feels very strange that the recording was the very first thing we checked off the list, like we have music ready for people to hear but there was still a lot of other work that needed to be done first before the album could be released. As an ex-chorister, I’ve enjoyed exploring some of the songs that I used to sing as a child but in a new context.
What are you looking forward to most for fans to hear Be Still My Soul when it’s released in October?
Be Still My Soul and Let The River Run are stand-out tracks for me. I think people will really appreciate being able to concentrate on beauty of the harmonies without distraction of horns, pianos and violins etc. On our previous albums, instruments have added a sense of bravado and grandeur but for Be Still My Soul we really wanted to do something more intimate and vulnerable.
You’ve recently released a song from the album – Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water – how has it been seeing the response to the single?
We recently hit 200,000 views for the song on YouTube, which is amazing, but even more than that, seeing our fans’ reactions to the new sound and style of arrangements has been even more rewarding.
What upcoming release plans do you have in the lead-up to Be Still My Soul?
We’ll be releasing early peeks at other singles from the album up until its release in October. We’ll also be posting behind the scenes looks at some of the creative process on our Patreon.
How do you find the experience touring with artists such as Katherine Jenkins and Aled Jones and what shows do you have coming up in the next few months?
Katherine Jenkins and Aled Jones are always two of the nicest people in the business. Every time we work with them they’re incredibly welcoming. I feel like we all have a mutual respect as artists. As for the shows we have coming up – on the 10th of July we are being joined by West End wonder Marisha Wallace for A Night At The Musicals at Tonbridge Castle and on the 23rd July we’ll be joining Katherine Jenkins for Live In the Park at Mote Park.
What can audiences expect from your upcoming The Christmas is Here Tour?
A good amount of festive songs alongside some of our biggest hits. I don’t think we’ve done a single live show without Stars. The song means so much to us, it would feel very strange to not do it.
You collaborated with Cliff Richard on Mistletoe & Wine last year, how was this and what was it like touring with him previously?
Touring with Cliff Richard was incredible. Each venue was more electric than the last and watching Cliff perform every night was a treat. He has more gusto on stage than the four of us combined. Releasing Mistletoe & Wine was an honour for us and something we’ll cherish forever. The amount of support Sir Cliff has shown us leaves us in awe of him. Only last month he came to watch us perform at the Boisdale Club in London and has shown up to support us at many other shows over the years. Truly one of the kindest people in showbiz.
In 2014, Collabro won Series 8 of Britain’s Got Talent, what are some of your favourite memories from competing on the show?
We knew there was a chance we could win but never took it for granted so the pause of silence before the winners were announced felt like minutes. I’ll never forget that feeling of dread and suspense. Looking back it felt like an out-of-body experience, like it was happening to someone else. Another thing was using in-ear monitors for the first time. Using industry grade technology was incredibly exciting. It was like our first peek into a new world and maybe something we, sadly, take a little for granted now.
Had you always wanted a music career and how did you start?
I was a chorister in St James’s Choir in Louth for about seven years until the age of 14 and went on to do Performing Arts at Lincoln College and then a degree in Musical Theatre for Actors at the University of West London (Thames Valley University at the time). People told me I was pigeonholing myself, but honestly, performing was the only thing I ever wanted to do.
What are some of your favourite music artists to listen to and who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Yikes. If you look through my music it’s a mix of musical theatre and heavy metal (particularly djent). I’ll bounce from Miss Saigon to Periphery to Waitress to Meshuggah. The feelings you get from an emotionally charged MT song and a powerful metal groove are very different but each has its time and place in my life. As for artists I’d love to work with, Billy Porter and Gavin Creel come to mind immediately. We met Billy Porter after an amazing performance in Kinky Boots and he gave us his album which I still have proudly on my shelf.
Over Christmas 2021, you played Gaston in the Chesterfield pantomime Beauty and the Beast, what was this like?
It was a lot of fun to finally play something other than the happy but oblivious prince. Unlike my bandmate Michael (Auger), I’m not a natural smiler, haha. Getting to be mean and cocky on stage was a really refreshing change of pace.
Do you have a favourite aspect of starring in pantomimes and can you say about some of the others you’ve appeared in?
Getting to collaborate with other artists (including lighting, sound etc.) is always a real treat. It’s fun to see each person bring their personal flair to their performances. I’ve done three so far. Peter Pan as Peter Pan was memorable as my first professional panto and for the fact that I “flew” up on wires every performance. Next was Sleeping Beauty as the Prince in Folkestone, which was incredibly beautiful and had some amazing restaurants and scenery. Finally, Beauty and the Beast as Gaston was memorable as I said above for allowing me the chance to really get my hands dirty with a villainous role.
Away from performing, we understand you’re into gaming and have streamed on Twitch, can you tell us about this?
I used to stream a lot but haven’t picked it up after the last tour. I should get back to doing it as my community have been waiting patiently and it’s amazing to spend time with them doing what I love. Regardless of whether I’m streaming or not though, I’m always gaming. It’s a passion of mine that’s been a part of my life since I was a child. So much so that I recently had tattoo sleeves of Pokémon and Final Fantasy IX done. I just wish I had more arms for some of the other games I love.
Have you been given any advice over the years that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a new music artist?
It’s very easy for performers to doubt themselves and compare themselves to their peers. I’ve always lived by the mantra that you don’t have to be better than the people you admire, you just have to be better than you were yesterday. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I heard it first but it made a positive impression on the way that I view myself and my talent.
What do you enjoy most about releasing new music and touring as Collabro?
The best thing about releasing new music is seeing the reaction we get to it. I’m sure it’s the same for artists of all mediums, it’s the joy that your work brings to the people who experience it. It’s the same for both releasing records and performing live but in different ways. Records are great as they allow you to reach a wide variety of people and allows them to analyse and enjoy the songs in their own time. Live performances are all about sharing emotion through song with your audience and creating a connection through music that you can only get when creating your art face to face.
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