Ex Collabro star Richard Hadfield sings Radiohead’s Creep naked and opens up about his post band depression.
Let’s face it, Covid-19 has totally screwed up our social lives, hasn’t it? We can’t catch up with our mates for a drink, we can’t mooch around the shops for a bargain and we can’t pay our oldies a visit. So locked up like prisoners in our homes, what the hell are we supposed to do to occupy our weary minds? Well, thankfully, loads of folks have been pretty creative during this crazy time, either dreaming up hilarious Tik Tok clips, showing us how to shred our bods or simply belting out songs. Among the talented singers trying to keep us entertained is GuysLikeU favourite Richard Hadfield who has posted series of songs on YouTube that he has called A Song A Day To Keep Coronavirus Away.
So far the hunky Brighton based hunk has posted stunning versions of classic tunes like That’s Life, Maria, I Put A Spell On You, Mack The Knife and Bring Him Home. His latest clip sees Richard crooning a heart breaking version of Radiohead’s Creep.
But as we’re thirsty so-and-sos at GuysLikeU, we have rather craftily managed to get our sticky paws on some rehearsal footage in which Richard is flashing some furry flesh! Yes, the hirsute beefcake whipped off his top while rehearsing the track that he has kindly let us post exclusively.
So thirsty boys, grab a wet wipe and get listening. Then once you’ve recovered hell out our interview in which Richard opens up about being struck down by Coronavirus, how he hit rock bottom after leaving Collabro and how he wants to represent the UK at Eurovision.
What was the idea behind the songs?
Well, apart from wanting to bring music into everyone’s home, I was honestly feeling down and out. All my shows had been cancelled, my gym had been shut and the lockdown rules had begun to be enforced. I needed something to structure my day and ‘A Song a Day Keeps Corona Away’ seemed the best way to include all my fans in something that would not only entertain them but also keep me sane.
How are you coping in isolation and what have you learnt about yourself
Well you must send us a picture. It’s been a few years since you left Collabro and started performing jazz shows. Did you enjoy the change?
When I left Collabro I wanted to move on from musical theatre and had had a lot of abuse from trolls who were pissed off with me that I had left the band. I was already at a low point and the personal attacks really hit my confidence and made me feel like I couldn’t sing those songs anymore. Jazz was very cathartic for me as that’s what I used to sing as a teenage busker. It helped me build my confidence back up and aided me in learning a lot of new skills as a vocalist, having worked with incredible musicians across the London and New York’s jazz scene. My music knowledge is so much stronger now and so are my performance skills. Bottom line is I am all about the music, this industry can be full fragile egos and jealousy which I don’t want to participate in.
You’re doing a lot more of a mix of styles these days.
I did a show in St. Ives, in Cornwall a while back singing songs from musicals and movies. I was really nervous as this was the first time approaching musical theatre again since leaving Collabro but immediately I couldn’t believe the ticket sales response. I knew the pressure was on for me to give a great show. It was only a grand piano and me on stage so I had nowhere to hide. I came out singing Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera and once the song finished everyone stood up on their feet cheering. I couldn’t believe it. It’s fair to say the show was a complete success with four standing ovations throughout the night. It may not have been The Royal Albert Hall or the O2 Arena, but this little theatre made me feel the best I have ever felt in my entire career. That feeling is what has led me to focus on the stunning songs of musical theatre and ballads this year and performed several shows at the Zedel in London.
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Have you got your tickets yet?! Not long now till my show at @liveatzedel! Here’s a little clip from my last show. What a great crowd! Head to the link to grab the last few tickets 😁 https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/an-evening-with-richard-hadfield #livemusic #londonmusic #live @lesmizofficial #lesmis #idreamedadream #musicals #musicaltheatre #piccadilly #westend #zedel #crazycoqs #broadway #showtunes #whatson
What happened after you quit?
I took a much needed hiatus of about six months before working again because I didn’t know what direction I wanted to take with my music, if any! Unfortunately when I started talking to agents and managers who wanted to ‘help’ my career I met a lot of people who promised me the world but sadly most of the time all they wanted was quick cash or to bind me into endless contracts. It became clear I couldn’t trust everyone.
How down did you become. What helped you through?
I fell into a deep depression and lost my drive and motivation. When you are suddenly out of the bubble you feel very alone and then as a result you lack the knowledge to make things happen. That was the cold hard shock, to realise how difficult it is to do anything on your own when u don’t have the top PRs and managers around you. You’re kind of treading water, trying not to drown. After a lot of broken promises I felt anyone I spoke to was untrustworthy and that put me on edge. I began to assume everyone was taking me for a ride.
Do you feel you needed to have a down time to find your creativity and work out what you wanted?
It definitely made me stop and think so I guess in some respects, yes. The main thing that I’ve managed to come out of this with is to not rely as much on other people and really work for myself. I now get most of my work through the connections I’ve made rather than relying on some big shot with ‘the credentials’.
Has it been hard going solo – has it been tougher than you expected
When I left the band I had no plan. I look back at that the with fondness and a little sadness because we managed to achieve so many incredible things like selling out The Royal Albert Hall and having a number 1 album. I think we’ve all changed now and we can laugh about it over a pint. I am proud of the work we did together. I saw Michael recently at Dancing On Ice and it was lovely to see him. We ended up having a few drinks. It was lovely. I also caught up with the other lads while we’ve been cooped up and we had a great chat! It felt really good to speak to them properly again! It had been a long time.
You have a new energy which is amazing and you look fantastic – are you in a good place now?
I’m in a very exciting place now. I have a goal this year and know what I want to achieve once this Coronavirus madness is over. It’s not as scattered as previous years post-Collabro where I’ve still been exploring the type of artist I want to be.
A few years back, you got really muscley – you looked amazing.
When you work out a lot you end up always chasing the next goal regardless of how good you look. I always wanted to be a little slimmer and a little musclier. It’s interesting that regardless of how ‘good’ I looked, I wasn’t going to be totally happy with my body.
Was it unrealistic to maintain?
It was very difficult especially when I’m a massive foodie…literally! But jokes aside it really took a toll on my energy levels. My body isn’t made to only eat 1500 calories a day! Genetics play a huge role in your metabolism and everyone is different. You have to find a healthy level for your body to maintain. I wasn’t healthy in the ‘before’ picture and I wasn’t healthy in my ‘after’ picture! There needs to be compromise.
Are you happier now with your body now?
There are things I would like to change but it’s really about a balance. I’ve become more confident in my own skin than when I was ripped. I’m just a big guy and I like that about me.
Everyone worries about the way they look – do you think we should love our bodies more?
Of course! But equally don’t use that as an excuse. I see people these days too scared to call someone out on their BS. I’m all for self love but if that self love includes you abusing your body whether fat or thin you need to have a re think!
Do you feel as a guy in the public eye there a lot of pressure to look fit?
Yes, I think there is more and more pressure on men to look a certain way. It makes you realise what girls have had to deal with for much longer! But then there’s a benefit to becoming more socially aware as well because it means becoming more understanding of what others have been through, especially in the public eye. Hopefully the result will be more people banding together to change the status quo.
Few people know that you met with the producers of Eurovision back in 2018 to discuss representing the UK in 2019 – what happened?
I brought the BBC producers my version of Freaks. I had turned the song into an anthemic Greatest Showman style ballad! It was a brilliant meeting and although they liked the direction, they went with something more pop sounding in the end.
That’s unbelievable bearing in mind the girlband MAID who sang a version of it were so awful! The song that made it through didn’t do all that well either.
I have always thought that Eurovision often responds best to the huge bond-esque ballads from the likes of Conchita or Il Volo. There are a lot of pop songs at the competition within the same vein, but a true ballad backed by a power house singer has always wowed the shows audience. I believe the audience really needs to connect with the song. If you don’t provide that then you’re off to a bad start. The song that won on the evening – Bigger Than Us sing by Michael Rice – was the big ballad but I actually think ‘Freaks’ is a stronger song but they missed the mark I think on the arrangement sadly. It’s weird the track has gone gone on to be the most streamed UK Eurovision song.
Do you think the BBC get it?
Maybe they’re overthinking it. I can see the appeal in wanting to have a Radio 1 worthy song that defies all expectations but baring in mind the audience is more Radio 2 listeners, that’s going to be a tough sell. The BBC’s ambition is good but I think you only have to read the public reaction to ‘You Decide’ to realise that the ambition is perhaps going in the wrong direction. I really really would love to represent Eurovision. I love playing to a massive crowd and I think I would be put on a rousing show.