By Louise Gannon, photography by Mark Hayman
They may be in their 10th year as a band, but there are few signs the McFly boys feel jaded.
Arriving at our east London studio, all crammed into their tour manager’s car, they’re on top form, joking about their recent group tattoo (they’ve each had one of the four letters YMCA etched on to their feet), comparing outfits for our Mod-inspired shoot, and instigating a banana hunt (don’t ask!).
After 25 Top 40 singles, five studio albums and 10 tours, most bands would barely be on speaking terms, but McFly are tighter than ever.
Perhaps their 19-month-long break – in which Harry won Strictly Come Dancing and Dougie became king of the I’m A Celebrity! jungle – was just what they needed before making a comeback. As is standard, there’s a new single and greatest hits album ready for release, but there’s also their first stab at their memoirs. Your average bit of pop fluff this is not.
The book, Unsaid Things…Our Story, is packed with shock revelations about mental illness, heartbreak and Dougie’s suicide attempt – all things they’ve never talked about before.
Their admissions will shock their millions of fans, but it’ll also make everyone see them in a whole new light…
Tom, you reveal in the book that you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010 and spent time in rehab for it. Why have you never talked about your illness before?
For a long time I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was difficult to be with, I was a complete a**e a lot of the time. God knows how the other boys put up with me. I’d go through cycles. I’d have periods of being fine and feeling really creative, then I’d go into a black zone where I didn’t want to be with anyone else. I argued about everything and was just incredibly unhappy. My biggest problem was the fact I couldn’t sleep. I was terrified of the dark.
I’d never heard of bipolar, but when I was at my lowest I read an article about it and cried because I knew that was me. I watched Stephen Fry’s documentary The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive and I knew then for sure. It was a massive relief because it meant I could do something. I was put on medication and started seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist. I also started sleep therapy, which was incredible.
You didn’t tell the boys for a few months after your diagnosis. Why?
My wife Giovanna knew, but I needed to understand it myself before I told them.
What was their reaction?
They were amazing. I could tell by the looks on their faces that it made absolute sense to them.
[Harry interjects]: As soon as he told us, I totally knew. It explained everything about him. Tom could be the greatest, funniest guy and then he could be this absolute a******e. Dougie and I used to constantly talk to each other about what his problem was. And then this was it. It’s made me realise you should never judge anyone, you should just try and support them, no one has a clue what someone else is going through.
Do you think this will come as a shock to your fans?
Probably, although there are a lot of McFly fans that know us so well, it may make sense to them too. People often don’t talk about mental illness, but we should – we should be aware of it and not ashamed to deal with it.
You married your childhood sweetheart Giovanna [Falcone, 27, sister of TOWIE’s Mario], this May. How’s married life so far?
I love being married and my wife has put up with a lot. She says I’m the one who has the periods!
Any plans for babies?
Definitely. I want some time just us being on our own, maybe a year, and then babies. I can’t wait to be a dad.
You’ve written songs for One Direction. How do you know the boys?
When they met us on The X Factor they wanted to keep in touch, then we started writing together. They remind me of us when we started, they’re good guys. We all get on really well.
Dougie Poynter, 24
Dougie, you’re very honest in the book about your drink and drug addictions, which saw you spend a month in rehab last year. What was going on?
I was just drinking all the time and basically getting off my head every night. When I think of it now it feels like I’m talking about someone else. I drank whatever was there and took lots of different drugs. I was just a mess.
In the book you explain how you tried to gas yourself to death in your car. That must have been your lowest point…
It was in early 2011. I thought the only answer was to kill myself. The frightening thing was it didn’t seem at all dramatic to me, it just seemed completely logical. It was like a “eureka” moment. That’s actually what made me realise I needed help – I was out of control. I never took anything like heroin, but I think if it hadn’t been for the band it could have all been over for me. McFly saved my life.
You blame a lot of your problems on your split from Frankie Sandford in November 2010. How do you think she’ll feel when she reads the book?
The reality is that my problems weren’t caused by her or by anyone else, they were just the excuse I used. You can’t blame anyone else. I don’t know whether it was anything to do with my dad leaving [his dad walked out on his mum Sam Moody, and younger sister Jazmine when he was 15 and Dougie hasn’t seen him since] or what, but I was a mess. You think being in a band, being famous and having money will make you feel better but it doesn’t. It was really hard to read back what I’d written in the book but as much as it sucks, it helps to talk about it.
Before going into rehab you’d kept your addictions secret from the guys apart from Harry. How did the others react when you told them?
They just wanted to help. All of them did. Tom moved me in with him and Giovanna, Harry and Danny checked up on me all of the time. There was never a sense that I had messed up for them, they just wanted to sort me out.
You spent a month in rehab. What was it like?
It was 28 days of complete intensity, but the most important 28 days of my life. I was in this incredible group, and everyone has stayed sober and we all still stay in touch. I talked a lot, I cried a lot and I thought a lot. I had all these stupid things I was worrying about, like the fact I’d lost my libido, and I was able to say them out loud and people would talk about it and I’d feel better. I was very lucky because a lot of people don’t get sober straight away. I still go to therapy meetings and I’m teetotal. I don’t want to go back to being the person I was.
Have you banned the guys from drinking in front of you?
No! They’re not big drinkers anyway. Tom doesn’t drink, Danny drinks a bit but he’s cut down and Harry has a few glasses but he’s too healthy.
You’re in a new relationship now [with artist Lara Carew-Jones, 27]. After what you went through with Frankie was it hard to date again?
I’m a different person and my girlfriend is amazing. I’m totally in love. We may try and sneak up the aisle before Harry [who’s getting married in December]!
Will you be watching the new series of I’m A Celebrity?
Definitely. After what I’d been through, the jungle was a breeze. I loved it.
Harry Judd, 26
‘I knew I’d marry Izzy the moment we met’
Harry, in the book you say that you knew after just one week with your now fiancée Izzy [Johnston, 27, a classical violinist] that you would marry her. How could you tell?
As soon as I saw her [in 2005, when she toured with McFly as part of classical music group Escala] I knew she was special. We had our first kiss right after the end of the tour, and she came back to my house and stayed for a week. Then she had to leave to work abroad and told me that she didn’t know if it would work. I was 19, in a pop band, and she’d just come out of a relationship.
She didn’t think it was very real. I just looked at her and said: “But I’m going to marry you.” It was like this gut instinct – I just knew. I reminded her of that moment when I proposed to her last year [in St Lucia] but she’d completely forgotten about it.
After your stint on Strictly, do you still dance and will you be “doing a Strictly” on your wedding day in December?
Embarrassingly, I do. I’ll be walking down a supermarket aisle with Izzy and she’ll turn round and say: “Have you just done a dance move?” Or I’ll be alone in the kitchen and I’ll just crack out a few sequences just to check I can still do them. I think there’s going to be a big moment during the first dance, but I have to keep a few things secret…
Who’s going to be your best man?
I can’t copy Tom and have everyone as my best men, and I can’t pick between the boys in the band, so I’m having my brother, Thomas, 28, and my best friend from school, Ben Crowder.
In the book you finally spill the beans on your night with Lindsay Lohan in 2005, and reveal you came close to doing the deed after going back to her hotel from a party… until Danny interrupted! Why wait till now to tell all?
It’s about being honest, telling the story of what happened, the good, the bad and the ugly. We all had our mad moments, it’s all in the past, we’ve all changed, but these are moments in our life and they happened. She completely instigated it – it was totally surreal. That whole lifestyle is pretty fake, I can’t imagine any of us getting caught up in it.
Who’s your money on to win this year’s Strictly?
This is a hard question! I used to get really upset when people didn’t mention me [Harry won last year’s competition]. But I’d say Denise Van Outen, Louis Smith or Nicky Byrne, and my outside bet is Victoria Pendleton.
What’s your top piece of advice for this year’s contestants?
Work really, really hard. You can spot the ones who take it seriously and the ones who don’t, and the more you put in the better you will get. I was totally obsessed. It completely changed my life, I’ve always been reasonably fit but since doing that show I’ve maintained my fitness. I go to the gym every day, I’m careful with what I eat, I drink a lot less. It was a huge deal for me.
After your Strictly success, were you tempted to leave the band and strike out on your own?
Never. We’re in our 10th year. I love this band, it made me want things with McFly to get better. And they did.
Danny Jones, 26
Danny, is it true you’ve proposed to your girlfriend, former Miss England Georgia Horsley, 25, five times but she keeps saying no?
Ha ha ha! That was a joke. She’d love it if I proposed. Give me time, because we have quite a few McFly weddings to get through first.
You were in Popstar To Operastar in 2010 but didn’t win [Danny came fifth, with Darius Campbell taking the top prize]. Were you jealous of Harry and Dougie for winning their shows?
I was over the moon for them. I only wished Popstar To Operastar got ratings like theirs because it was a great show and I learnt a hell of a lot from it. It was a fantastic experience.
With so much hype around One Direction, does it make you worry about how much longer McFly can go on for?
We love 1D, and it’s brilliant for British pop music that they have come along, broken America and done so well. We get on great with those guys – there are a lot of similarities which is why they want us to write with them. I also think we’re now better than ever, so if anything I’m prouder than ever to be in McFly.
What has kept you so tight?
We’re mates, really good mates. We’ve been through a lot of really good times and really bad times and it’s always been together. We respect each other, we make each other laugh and we’ve watched each other grow up. We’ve gone from being pretty wild guys to half the band being teetotal and the other half a couple of lightweights!
What’s been your most rock ’n’ roll moment from the past decade?
We were on tour in Chile, drinking with the crew, then I tried to get everyone up to my hotel room to continue the party. Security wouldn’t allow me and I got so mad I smashed up a table.
If you could go back in time what advice would you give yourself?
Be patient. Everything will work out.
● McFly’s single Love Is Easy and Greatest Hits album are out in November. Their autobiography Unsaid Things…Our Story is out now.
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