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X-TRA SPECIAL; Kate Mansey meets the boy band with the manners of gentlemen It's so strange t o be finally famous.

Byline: Kate Mansey

FACTOR stars G4 are sitting in their dressing room before a live performance. They all get up to greet me, shake my hand, introduce themselves and Matt goes to fetch me a chair.

What gents. But then G4 aren't your average boy band. After X Factor, they found themselves achieving the pop heights they dreamed of when they were busking in their days at Guildhall School of Music.

They are more relaxed than any band I've met pre-show.

Well spoken, they are happy to chat with no seeming pressure to start warming up.

The four lads are sitting in the same position they adopt on the cover of their debut album. Hands clasped, elbows resting on their knees.

And the look? Standard issue G4 grey tailored suits - check. Standard issue coal black shirts - check. Shiny black shoes - check. Immaculate hair styles and a fair amount of foundation - check.

The foursome are all well spoken, they don't swear, and they are the definition of polite without being false. Refreshing for pop stars - which, despite the opera twist is very much what they are.

All of them are more attractive in 'real life' than on TV - again, something you don't expect.

G4 are Jon Ansell, 22, Matt Stiff, 25, Michael Christie, 23, and Ben Thapa, 22Jon auditioned for opera-style band Il Divo but didn't make it. But he's happy where he is at the moment.

He says: 'I really enjoy what we're doing, and sometimes things work out for the best.'

And after losing the X Factor competition they haven't been sitting around nursing their wounds After a bidding war, the boys signed to music giant Sony BMG.

Ben says: 'We were signed up very quickly and it has been non-stop since. It's all been really enjoyable but very busy.'

The self-titled debut album went straight into the charts at No. 1 at the end of February and has been a huge success.

Michael says: 'It's been strange to go from walking down the street like everyone else to being in a shop and having middle-aged women come running up to you asking for your autograph.

Jon agrees: 'I've found that. You have people old enough to be your mum asking you out for dinner and getting really flustered when they meet you.'

Michael adds: 'I still don't think I've got used to the fact that people recognise me yet.

'And just dealing with the music industry has been an eye-opener.

Sometimes you'll go to do a 'live' performance for TV and the producers won't actually expect you to sing live, but just mime.

'We couldn't believe it. We pride ourselves on being able to sing live. That's our real strength.'

The singers, who return to play Liverpool Empire on June 18, say they hope to deviate from the covers on the album like Radiohead's Creep, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, and REM's Everbody Hurts in the near future.

Michael says: 'Looking at our album - the variety of our songs - we have everything from rock and pop. You wouldn't find another album on the shelves like that.'

Matt says: 'We went platinum in a week - completely unexpected.

'The song that's stood out has been Bohemian Rhapsody. The song took us all through the competition and it's a real tribute to the power of Queen.' Mike says: 'We would like to write some of our songs for the next album - we've just been so busy working every day on this one. That has been the biggest shock, just seeing how busy we are. We've been travelling all over the place.'

And if there's a wide mix in music styles, there's just as much scope in the types of fans they have.

Jon says: 'We have young children right through to grandparents - complete extremes. That huge appeal is the most exciting part.'

After the set in HMV G4 stuck around and signed posters and CDs for fans What's the weirdest thing they've signed? Jon says: 'Probably a mobile phone. I thought I was going to break it.'

Then Matt blurts out unexpectedly: 'I signed somebody's bottom in Islington. That was strange

Gig Date

G4 will be at the Liverpool Empire on June 18


OPERA LITE: the lads from G4 love their new-found fame
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 6, 2005
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