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absolutely nuts Aston Merrygold says touring with JLS again has been a real roller coaster

The Boyband favourite talks about reuniting with JLS for their new album, judging Irish talent show The Big Deal and why Dublin is one of his favourite cities

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Aston with fellow bandmates from JLS.

Aston with fellow bandmates from JLS.

Aston on The Big Deal with fellow judges Jedward, Deirdre O’Kane, Boy George and Lyra

Aston on The Big Deal with fellow judges Jedward, Deirdre O’Kane, Boy George and Lyra

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Aston with fellow bandmates from JLS.

There are far worse bubbles Magazine+ can think of being stuck in approaching yet another Covid Christmas than Aston Merrygold, Marvin Humes, JB Gill and Oritsé Williams.

Better known as JLS, the foursome recently regrouped eight years after calling it a day, with their new album 2.0 sure to stuff many a stocking across the country this December 25.

Almost a month after returning to the 3Arena stage with their twice postponed Beat Again tour, Aston joked that his ears have just about stopped ringing.

“It’s always loud in Ireland,” he jokes over Zoom. “New music, old music, they’re fully there, hands in the air, jumping up and down, going absolutely nuts.

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Aston on The Big Deal with fellow judges Jedward, Deirdre O’Kane, Boy George and Lyra

Aston on The Big Deal with fellow judges Jedward, Deirdre O’Kane, Boy George and Lyra

Aston on The Big Deal with fellow judges Jedward, Deirdre O’Kane, Boy George and Lyra

“I think obviously the pandemic was part of it, with people not being able to see their loved ones, and maybe finally reuniting at a JLS show that they’ve been waiting to go to for years, and all of us back on stage together again.

“At the minute, we’re just trying to keep safe over this period, as we’re in a bubble as well. It’s a proper rollercoaster, this tour, but it’s been amazing so far.”

Viral footage of a female fan fainting at the Dublin gig, and the lads stopping the show to come to her rescue, helps explain the hivedom for the British boyband who found fame on The X Factor in 2008.

While their comeback album packed with catchy bops including new single Postcard and Eternal Love, penned by Ed Sheeran, is creating a whole new buzz around the TV talent show runners-up.

“Definitely we’ve worked with, which is really weird to say, some of the biggest [names] in the world,” the 33 year-old explains of the reunion, which also saw the BRIT and MOBO-winning band join forces with Westlife hitmaker Steve Mac and Grammy magnets TMS.

“People that have been fans and are still fans of JLS and are passionate about writing songs with us and for us, and helping us progress through our career. So we’re just happy that the music’s being well received and we’re able to still work with the best of them.”

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Now a dad of two, lots has changed for the part-Irish singer and dancer since the band, originally called UFO, lost to Alexandra Burke on season five of Simon Cowell’s reality television steamroller.

But he came full circle earlier this year when he joined new Irish format The Big Deal as a judge just as the show that gave him his big break as a contestant was axed.

“Something ending is never going to be nice,” Aston reflects on The X Factor. “At the same time they had the most successful years of any talent show out there.

“Some of the biggest artists on the planet have come from that show, so of course it’s sad, but it’s had its time to evolve through the years, from the very, very first series to its last series.”

It’s a chance he’s hoping the Virgin Media Television variety contest presented by Vogue Williams, and produced by Fox Alternative Entertainment, will now also get despite disappointing ratings.

“Doing something like The Big Deal was great, especially in Ireland where the talent is always crazy unreal,” says Aston, who’s “100pc” on board to return to judging duties alongside Boy George, Jedward, Deirdre O’Kane and Lyra.

“You associate Ireland with great singers but there was a lot of mixed talent, which was great to see. We see from these social platforms that people build careers out of singing, dancing, acting, magic, cooking, everything, so you can be talented in your own way now.

“I think now it’s all in the hands of the big network Fox overseas,” he adds of the possibility of a second season. “And we just sit patiently and wait for the rest of the numbers to roll in and see the demand, and if we can get back on telly next year that would be amazing.”

And ‘Aimers’, as the star’s devoted fans are nicknamed, won’t have to look too far for their idol or his bandmates in the capital city.

“Me and the boys are very fond of our chicken wings,” laughs Aston, whose mum Siobhan comes from Belfast. “There’s a really nice place called Elephant and Castle, so the family box is always bought from there.

“Dublin is one of our favourite cities to spend time in — we know our favourite restaurants, we know the bars.

“Hopefully next time when we are over it’ll be a little bit more relaxed and a bit more free to be able to venture out again.”

  • 2.0 by JLS is available now on iTunes priced €10.99

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