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Fantastic 4.

Byline: By Gavin Allen South Wales Echo

As i watched G4's main man Jon Ansell hobbling off the train with his ankle heavily strapped up having completed the London Marathon for charity (I watched, he ran), I cast my mind back to how eager the boys had been about the challenge when I spoke them at the CIA a month before.

'In the last 19 months we have been incredibly fortunate that things have taken off for us and it's a really nice opportunity for us to give something back,' he had beamed, looking fit and strong.

One month and 25 miles later he looked far less happy but he had met the challenge and passed it, which is something the X-Factor winners have made a habit of.

The lads met at the Guildhall School of Music, originally performing together as a busking group who sang on the streets of London to earn money and experience.

But after Jon replied to an advert for the X-Factor, the lads ended up being catapulted across national TV audiences with their distinctive covers of songs such as Radiohead's Creep - challenge number one met.

Their debut album went straight in at number one to convert the TV interest into a career - challenge two met - and the next step was for Jon, Ben, Mike and Matt to carry that support to a second album instead of quickly fading out as happens to many reality TV faces.

'We were very concerned about that,' said Matt. 'We knew people liked what we were doing but we were unsure that the support would carry through because you do ask 'what if we do less?' and you end up marking yourself against yourself and that creates pressure.

'So we are so grateful that it has carried through and allowed us to carry on with our careers.'

But there is only so long G4 can keep flogging the same horse - barbershop- operatic cover version of classic pop songs ranging from David Bowie to Coldplay with the odd bit of popera-classical thrown in for good measure.

It's something the group are aware of.

'It's important we progress and stretch ourselves, try and push some boundaries, do some things that people might think is weird,' said Ben.

'We've got another album due at Christmas and then another tour but more recently we have written between us and written individually with other people.

'We want to have our own material in some guise on that third album and maybe even do it on this tour because it would be amazing to get a reaction from the audience on it.'

That will be the biggest challenge G4 have faced yet, but like Ben said of the marathon: 'It was pretty full on but definitely worth it.'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 19, 2006
Words:462
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