The Wanted's Tom Parker on life in Petts Wood, One Direction, Justin Bieber and Christmas

News Shopper: The Wanted's Tom Parker on life in Petts Wood, One Direction, Justin Bieber and Christmas The Wanted's Tom Parker on life in Petts Wood, One Direction, Justin Bieber and Christmas

THE CHRISTMAS lights in Petts Wood were given an extra sparkle when a chart-topper stopped by for the switch-on.

Petts Wood Business Association pulled of a coup by enlisted Tom Parker of platinum-selling boyband The Wanted to turn on the town’s Christmas lights on Saturday (November 30).

The 25-year-old moved to the area six months ago to live with his long-term girlfriend Kelsey Hardwick – who grew up in the borough.

Kelsey runs K2K Stars performing arts academy with friend Kelsey Gallagher and the pair’s recently-opened Petts Wood group performed alongside Tom at the switch-on.

Speaking to Vibe, Tom said: “It’s a nice thing to do. K2K is something I’ve been involved with from the start and it is just about giving kids a start in life in performing arts. I never had that.

“The girls do an amazing job. They teach once a week and they are opening schools all over south London.”

Tom, who released his third album in three years with The Wanted last month, is enjoying the peacefulness of Petts Wood away from a hectic schedule with the band.

He said: “I feel like this is my introduction to the community.

“Everyone is really nice. Everyone is really calm and friendly. It’s like the calm away from the storm.”

The singer, who grew up in Bolton, is back touring in America but will make it back to town for Christmas.

He said: “We’ve spent three Christmases together. We go to the pub New Year’s Eve. It’s nice to get away from it all.”

Tom dropped out of university in Mancherster to join the band in 2009 after an open audition.

Though their rise seemed fast to onlookers, he said the band had a tough slog before it all took off.

He said: “We put probably eight months of work in – school tours and club tours. We did some pretty dire things. But you have to do those dire things to be able to go onto a big stage.

“It was fairly quick once it started to snowball and it has been non-stop ever since.”

While the band is on top, Tom is conscious that they have to keep moving in order to stay there.

He said: “You never know how long it will last, especially in the pop industry.

“If you’re an indie band you have that freedom to have longevity. If you take periods apart or take two or three years to make an album you have that fanbase.

“In the pop industry it is a bit more fickle. You have got to be on your game always and keep people entertained on a constant basis.”

Despite The Wanted’s members working on solo projects – Max had recorded a song with rapper Flo Rida and Tom has been working on a song with Fazer of NDubz – Tom said they want to continue as a band for a long time, and plan to release two albums next year.

He added: “We’re thinking of doing something acoustic. For four years it has been like a machine.

“A lot of people don’t know we play instruments.

“If there’s five people that can sing, you should definitely show it. A lot of people have a tainted view that all of it is all autotuned but we really want to show that we’re not a typical boyband and we have got a little bit of talent.

“We have written since the first album. People have this tainted view of boybands, I think it is a typical view of 90s boybands.

“I think boybands of this generation have done a lot to change that view.”

The Wanted are so committed to their craft that even a collaboration with Justin Bieber did not make it onto the latest album.

Tom said: “It is easy just to put a collaboration on there for the name.

“We always said we wouldn’t do something if it wasn’t worth doing. It wasn’t that the song was not good enough, it was just very R and B.

“Who knows if it will ever get released. Maybe.”

One track that is likely to see the light of day is a song written by Siva and Rita Ora, Tom said.

For almost as long as both bands have existed, The Wanted has fuelled gossip columns with spats with rivals One Direction. It is something Tom is keen to put an end to.

He said: “When the whole One Direction thing started, it was very easy to get caught up in a slanging match.

“We have got a young fanbase and I they’ve got a younger fanbase, and it is not nice to see kids fighting on Twitter.

“It is not a nice thing to witness, kids saying pretty vile things.

“We’ve stopped from our side and I read the same in an interview with them the other day.

“Nothing’s been said from our side or their side in a while. I think it is better to let it die off.

“Let them crack on with their stuff and we’ll crack on with our stuff.”

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS:

Do you prefer a home-cooked meal or a takeaway?

Home-cooked. I do love a takeaway though – Indian. I had one last night.

Where’s your favourite?

Petts Wood Kebab. Or Rajdoot. We love Rib Shack as well.

Kelsey: But we are partial to a little cheeky Harvester as well.

Tom: Harvester, cheap and cheerful.

Do you have a favourite album?

What’s the Story (Morning Glory)?, Oasis.

Best Feature...

Kelsey: Personality.

Tom: Thanks. ‘Everything else on your face is awful, but your personality is ok'.

Worst Feature...

My nose. She calls it the honker.

Drink of choice...

Jack and Coke.

Is it ever OK to go to the cinema by yourself?

Kelsey: I think it is. As an actress, if you want to see the latest film then go. No one would know you’re by yourself.

Tom: You would watch a film by yourself at home.

Kelsey: If you’re sitting in the cinema on your own and it’s dark you can pretend they’ve gone to the toilet.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

Kelsey.

For more about K2K Stars, go to k2kstars.com

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