Summer is just a few weeks old but Vagabond frontman Alex Vargas has already crammed in high profile gigs supporting The Script and James Morrison, two slots at Glastonbury and bagged himself a new girlfriend in the shape of Alesha Dixon. Helen Clarke caught up with him ahead of his Bush Hall show to talk Michael Jackson, first album nerves...and taming his ego.
It's a week since Michael Jackson died and Vagabond frontman Alex Vargas is still in shock. "I can't believe it – it's such a loss," he says. "You can't reinvent music in 2009, you can only mix together what's come before - he was one of the last musicians to really make something unique and new.
"It's going to be one of those 'where were you when...' things isn't it? We'd spent the whole day in the studio and I got a call from a friend. Steve (Carter, guitarist) is the biggest fan so we ran over the road where Luke (Fitton, guitarist) lives and put it the news on. History was the first album I spent my own money on and I guess he's had quite an influence on the band."
The Prince of Pop isn't Vagabond's only influence – Alex sites everyone from Kings Of Leon and The Killers to Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke as key players in sculpting their sound.
With his chiselled jaw, glossy curls and pin up looks, Alex is already causing a tabloid stir thanks to his fledgling relationship with singer and Strictly Come Dancing star Alesha Dixon. But the band's recent free download single Sweat (Until The Morning) earned them recognition in their own right. A mix of synth-tinged rock and soulful guitar pop, Vagabond is unlike anything else in the chart at the moment – a claim made all the more surprising when you discover they're the latest product of songwriting and production powerhouse Xenomania – the noughties equivalent of Stock, Aitken and Waterman and home to Girls Aloud, Kylie Minogue, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Sugababes. Alex denies feeling under pressure to match his colleagues' success. "You can see it as pressure or as motivation. The way I see it is that it's great these people at the top believe in us. In fact I'm the one stressing myself out. I believe in the record so much – what if it doesn't do well? What do I do then? I'm so nervous about it, I've had to warn the guys that I'm going to be a ***** until the album comes out! A big ego is very heavy, so it's going to be a tough month."
Alex met his four bandmates when they were working as backing musicians at the Xenomania mansion "I was in there doing some work on my own music and as we got working together, it just worked. We all get on really well – we've said to each other that we want to be doing this for a long time, so we need to treat each other like family and have patience with each other and look out for each other.
"It's important for me because I don't have my family around me here - I left home in Denmark when I was 17 to move to England, but I'm still close to them and I love going home and lying on the sofa while my mum runs around after me!"
The band's album You Don't Know The Half Of It is set for release on August 17 and is full of smooth RnB ballads, up tempo soul and Simply Red-style grown up pop. "I like to think we've got something for everyone – I hope we've got women who bring their grandchildren to see us and will then come back and see us.
"I've always been in to lots of different music and think nowadays people do go and see different types of bands – it's possible to be a credible band and appeal to 40 year olds and 14 year olds.
"I remember getting into soul when I was about 14 and being really excited that this was something I could sing. When I was younger than that my dad gave me albums by Nirvana, Led Zeppelin and Jeff Buckley, so I've always enjoyed different music. I loved those bands and I'd love to be able to sing like that but I just couldn't get to grips with. I've got hope though – I've heard men's voices don't develop until they're 28, so I've got a few years yet!"
Vagabond play at Bush Hall, Uxbridge Road, on August 6.