New Year's With Il Divo

Y&R’s’ Katherine Chancellor called in a special favor and got Il Divo to play her New Year’s party, which meant we got a chance to talk with the guys in the band — U.S. tenor David Miller, French pop singer Sebastien Izambard, Swiss tenor Urs Bühler and Spanish baritone Carlos Marin.

Soap Opera Weekly: Is it really possible to rent you guys out for a night, like Katherine does on New Year’s?
Carlos Marin: You can rent me whenever you want, my darling.
Sebastien Izambard (laughs): We’ll do it for very much money.
David Miller: With all of the opportunities that are coming now, we’re still in the middle of our first world tour, which we put on hold to do the third album and the Barbra Streisand tour, and then to promote that album. We pick the tour back up in January, in Asia, and it goes through April. We go to South America and South Africa, but occasionally in the middle of all of that, there are windows of time when people can say, “I just happen to be having a party. Are you guys free?” Most times, we say “No” because we’re just not free, but occasionally it happens.

Weekly: You’re performing the song “Somewhere.” Who makes that type of decision when you do a gig like this?
Izambard: We decide on the song and the length of the song. When you do a TV show now, you have very little time to sing, so we cut that part, put in that part.
Urs Bühler: Normally, the show gets a few options. We’ll give them two or three songs and say, “Which would you prefer?” Then they probably have their preference and we might still think, “We don’t want to do that. We want to do that.” It’s a bit of give and take between the management, us and the people who produce the shows that we were doing.

Weekly: Last summer, Victor “hired” you to perform for Nikki. How did this experience compare to that?
Marin: This time, we had all the audience and all the actors around. It was a beautiful experience.
Bhler: We had good fun.
Miller: The first time we were on, there was no audience, at all. We were hired to play the gazebo, but no one was there. We were singing and had to do our acting job [and pretend] that we were performing. Then they cut it all together. This time, we got to have the principals there. It was cool getting feedback from them and they seemed to enjoy it.

Weekly: Did any of the cast or crew give you any advice before you went on?
Marin: Yes. “This is the place you need to stay and this is the place you need to move.” The obvious things. (laughs) “That’s the light. That’s the camera. Don’t look to the camera. When you sing, open your mouth.”

Weekly: What was it like working with Jeanne Cooper? (they all laugh)
Miller: She’s a hoot.
Marin: She’s fabulous. She’s very fun. She said maybe she was too old for me.

Weekly: Can exposure on a show like Y&R make a difference for you?
Izambard: Yes, because it’s probably very much the demographic we’re reaching. It’s very much the people we want to address our music to — well, it’s [addressed] to everyone, but usually these are the people it touches the most. Y&R’s actually aired in France. It’s called “Les Feux de L’amour,” “The Fire of Love.”

Weekly: Do any of you watch the show or have fans in the family?
Miller: I have friends from high school and college who do, but my girlfriend’s family is absolutely nuts about it. Her grandmother has been watching since the first day of the show. [Of all we do,] this is the most exciting for them. “You’re on Oprah? Good, but when are you going to be on Y&R?!”
Izambard: We taped last year’s show in the end of June and it aired in August. I never watch TV, but I switched the TV on [for some reason] on a Saturday morning and it was [our last] episode! That’s the only one I’ve ever seen.

Weekly: Are you tempted to check the show out now?
Miller: If it’s on. Our time is very limited, because we spend so much time on airplanes, in airports and getting in cars to get to and from what we’re there to do. The amount of time we actually spend in a hotel room is generally the eight hours we have to sleep before we have to get ready the next day. So we don’t generally watch TV to begin with and then, we wouldn’t begin to know how to find the schedules for Greece or Malaysia. I can’t even read the TV Guide!

Weekly: If you could, would you like to catch this episode and critique yourself?
Marin: Oh, yeah. We criticize everything. Every single move. We’re very good at that.
Bhler: That’s probably the only way you can improve what you do in life, but no one can be perfect. That’s sometimes what I say to the other guys. I like imperfection sometimes.

Weekly: Are any of you interested in an acting career?
Miller: The four of us.
Bühler: It is funny, because when we do a video clip or film shoot and stand there in the studio all day, very often it is so boring. You are sitting around waiting the whole day. But if you see all those big movies and what those actors do, that is a tempting career.

Weekly: Does Simon Cowell, who put you together almost three years ago, still play an integral part in what’s happening with the group?
Izambard: We don’t see him at all, recently. We see him [about] once a year and discuss the future album, the things we can improve and things like that, but it’s more like a team. He’s very trustful and just leaves us to do our work. He’s very busy, as well. He’s got his career and we’ve got ours.
Miller: That’s part of the reason he hired people who already had careers going into it. He knew he’d be able to trust us and say, “I’m not going to be able to be there. Once you guys get going, fly. Be free.”

Weekly: So as part of this close-knit team, what do you four argue about?
Izambard: Everything. Imagine four different cultures and personalities. We have to make choices, and it’s the four of us. When you’re a solo artist, it’s easier. You stick to your own choice and that’s it. There, we have to find compromise. At times, when you’re tired, having a bad day or you just believe in something and you disagree with the other person…. It does happen a lot.
Miller: We try to be democratic as much as possible [and] everyone has an opinion, so it’s something we have to deal with.

Weekly: Do you ever miss your separate careers?
Bühler: Yes, of course, but I miss it mostly because of the music. We’re doing this crossover thing and it’s a completely different thing from being a classical tenor. I miss singing that repertoire. But in the classical business, we’re all very young. We don’t know where Il Divo is going to take us. We can always see it to find a step back to classical music again.

Weekly: What music do you each listen to?
IN UNISON: The new album.
Marin: I like Tom Jones. He’s my hero.
Bühler: I listen to opera and heavy metal.
Izambard: Lots of different things. At the moment, John Mayer.
Miller: I listen to techno, dance club music.

Weekly: What surprises you most since your international fame?
Izambard: The biggest artists are the artists that have nothing to prove. At the moment, we are touring with Barbra Streisand and she’s very down-to-earth. She doesn’t care. She does whatever she believes and I find that beautiful, to see an artist that sticks to her personality. She doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Weekly: Do you actually get to talk to her?
Miller: She talks to us, we talk to the feet. (laughs) No, she’s fantastic. We had very limited time with the rehearsal process, a couple of weeks in L.A. and then a week in New Jersey. It’s her show and she has so much on her plate. We’re the guests, so we didn’t have much time where she wasn’t dealing with the lights, the cameras or the set list, which is still changing, because she’s a perfectionist.

Weekly: You have such an international fan base. Are there places were it’s out of control?
Marin: Spain is unbelievable. It was an amazing experience when we went there. We did a show in Barcelona and Madrid. It was 18,000 people. It was mostly 14- to 16-year-old girls and they were all screaming. The most amazing thing was that they were singing along with the songs.

Weekly: So are you getting tired of wearing the suits?
Marin: No, it’s our pajamas!

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