Wolverhampton rock musician and Wolves fan Joseph Whelan hit the headlines recently when surprisingly overlooked for The X Factor live shows on prime time Saturday night television. But far more importantly than that, he recently performed at Molineux and got to meet rock legend Robert Plant! Here is an article from Saturday’s Wolves’ matchday magazine, in which the 27-year-old revealed his desire to forge a new music career and move away from his X Factor history......
*First things first Joseph, how did you get into music in the first place?
*I did two things when I left school at 16. I started bricklaying, and I started playing in a Metallica tribute band. I was a singer and guitarist and the interest in music took on from there. As time went on I toured Britain and Europe with my band Cloven Hoof and we built up a lot of experience.
*And from there you entered The X Factor last year?
It was a weird one for me. Being a rock musician it was quite a risky move and I wasn’t too sure how people were going to take it. And I know a lot of rock people don’t like The X Factor. But I had split up with my band and was on my own so I thought it would be nice to try and bring rock music back into the mainstream. So I gave it a try.
*You narrowly missed out last year and also again this year when going one step further to Boot Camp – how did you feel about that?
* It’s certainly a good thing to have happened and has given me a lot of exposure. The good thing about coming out when I did is that I’m not in a contract and that means I’m free to release some music and tour. A lot of people go in there and pin all their hopes and dreams on it but I always had a back-up plan. Because I record and produce my own music I’d got my album ready if I didn’t get through to the live shows. I’d been writing it all year and knew if things went wrong I could bring it straight out. Last week it came in at 27 in the Top 40 Rock Chart which was great and no doubt in part because I’d been able to get some exposure from The X Factor and then get my own music out there as a result. For an up-and-coming artist, particularly as I’ve written and produced it myself, I think that’s a good achievement.
*It certainly is. And having performances seen by millions of television viewers not to mention in front of Sharon Osborne and Robbie Williams isn’t too bad either?
*No I enjoyed it. And I appreciate the opportunity I had and it has given me such a platform to move forward. I want to be seen as a credible artist and musician and not just an X Factor contestant. The tour’s selling really well and so is my album and that wouldn’t have happened without the X Factor so I’m certainly taking the positives. Judging by what I was watching on the live shows last weekend I’m not sure whether I’d want to be part of it because it’s not really what I wanted to do. I wanted to bring something different and all the way through I wasn’t really comfortable in having to sing songs I didn’t want to sing and not getting the opportunity to play with a live band. Things change when you appear on The X Factor. You tend to become known as ‘Joe from the X Factor’ and everything else you’ve done tends to get disregarded. It’s something I do want to try and break away from now and the best way to do that is to write your own music rather than do just covers. And so that’s what I’ve been doing.
*It would have been nice to go through though?
* Yes it would and all I wanted was the chance for people to vote for me. I know people in Wolverhampton get almost patriotic about their own in situations like this and we all pull together and support people. With the amount of tweets and messages I had I think I could have gone well purely from all the local people getting behind me. That would have been a good base even without other people voting for me and it’s just a shame I never got to that point. Having said that, it’s not like I’ve disappeared! Hopefully I can embark on a career now for people to follow.
*Talking of Wolverhampton, how has the support been from the people of the city?
*It’s been great. I’ve always lived on The Scotlands in Wolverhampton and while I’ve managed to travel a lot with my music I owe a lot to the people of Wolverhampton for how they have supported me. Whether it’s at gigs or with The X Factor and Facebook campaigns everyone from Wolverhampton always get right behind me and that’s a big boost. It shows how proud the people of Wolverhampton are in getting behind their own. It’s like Wolves as well. The club have always got a big fanbase regardless of whether it’s good or bad on the pitch. We all stick with it and I think that would have been the case if I could have gone on to the voting stage. I do owe a lot to the local people.
*And recently you came to the Sheffield United game and performed on the pitch at half time?
* I’ve always been a Wolves fan. I have been to a lot of games and used to be a Season Ticket Holder but it dropped off over the last couple of years when I’ve been doing a lot of travelling. I’d like to get to as many games as possible when I can and I really enjoyed coming to the Sheffield United game. I was nervous at half time when it was 0-0 and would have been nice to go out there with Wolves in front. But it was a cracking result in the end! It was great for me to sing on the pitch and to be there and meet everyone behind the scenes. I spent the day with the sponsors What House and everyone really looked after me.
*You have a current favourite player?
* Yes Leigh Griffiths. I wanted to meet him and I voted for him as Man of the Match but Sako got it which is fair enough! I think Griffiths is a bit of a loose cannon and I like him for that because he seems very spontaneous. I never got to meet him but hopefully will do at some point.
*There was one special person you did get to meet though...
*Robert Plant! That was probably the highlight of my day. I was in the room being interviewed and hadn’t noticed him but then all of a sudden he was there. He knew who I was as well which was amazing and said ‘How you doing Joe’? That was massive for me and it was great to get a photo with him. He had a lot of time for me as well and asked me to send him a CD next time I was here.
*Great stuff. So what’s next for Joseph Whelan?
*I’ve got the album out – Kontrast – which can be downloaded on I-Tunes and other digital sites, and am touring soon. I just want to get my own music out there and try and build myself up as an artist.
*For all the information on Joe’s album and touring dates visit www.joseph-whelan.net Or follow him on Twitter @JosephRWhelan