At the time of the interview Jos Slovick was performing as Andre in the musical Once, at the Phoenix Theatre London. Once is a hit broadway sensation and winner of 8 Tony Awards. It is based on the much-loved Oscar-winning film, with an extraordinary, original and irresistibly joyous celebration of love, friendship and music.
Jos recently took time out from his busy schedule to answer some questions about his career and the show.
You played in several bands from the age of 15. Can you tell us about this?
My first band was called ‘The Perfect 5th’ made up of 4 of my school friends. Originally I was supposed to be the guitarist and lead singer but we didn’t have a bass player. I thought it’s only got 4 strings, how hard can it be! We were big fans of the film ‘The Commitments’ and did quite a lot of their versions of old soul numbers. We were together for about 2 years and played in local pubs (even though we weren’t old enough to drink in them!) and a couple of friends’ birthdays and school proms. After 6th form everybody went off to different universities so that was the end of that. When I was around 18 I played guitar and sang in a blues band called ‘Out to Lunch’ with three guys who were about three times my age! We played in some absolute dives across London. They were fantastic musicians. It was with them I learnt a lot about how to communicate with other musicians whilst playing in band. Since then I’ve sung in numerous jazz and function bands. Most recently I joined a 10-piece funk band called ‘Hot Air’ as their lead singer. We do a mixture of originals and covers. My favourite is a funky mash-up of Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Dance Wiv Me’ and Tinie Tempah’s ‘Pass out’.
At the age of 18 you were about to start at Mountview Academy of Performing Arts but were offered your first professional job and decided to take that instead. What was the major reason for this tough decision?
I thought you can go to drama school at any age but a job like Spring Awakening would only come round once in a while.
You have performed in several theatre productions since taking your first role. Excluding your current role, what is your favourite role so far?
I would have to say Dickon in The Secret Garden. You come in halfway through Act 1, do a great scene and sing a great song, then do exactly the same in Act 2! Plus I got to spend time in Edinburgh over New Year’s Eve and go to Toronto for two months!
You have also been in several short films. Which one is your favourite and why?
I played a nerd in a film called ‘This is Intercourse’. It’s a beginner’s guide to ‘having it off’. It’s very funny. It’s in a mockumentary style and follows a 16-year-old couple around who are planning to ‘do it’ for the first time.
What do you enjoy most about working in front of a camera?
If you mess it up, you can have another go!
You play several musical instruments including Bass, Clarinet, Double Bass, Drums, Guitar, Percussion, Piano and Trumpet. Which is your favourite?
I would say bass. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want but it always sounds cool!!
You are currently performing as Andre in Once at the Phoneix Theatre. What can you tell us about your character and how he fits into the storyline?
Andre is uptight but very determined with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Always trying to better himself and is not quiet about how he is going to do it. Andre is there to highlight the struggle of what an immigrant has to go through when living in a new country.
The West End cast of Once. Photo Credit Manuel Harlan
What is it like being a part of the show?
It’s so much fun! I’m very lucky that in my track I get to play lots of different instruments so that keeps me entertained. The show demands a lot of concentration. We don’t have a conductor so you really have to listen and look at the other cast members, so that we stay in time or need to cover anything if something goes wrong.
Why should everyone come along to see Once rather than any other show?
Personally, I think it’s completely different to anything else on in the West End at the moment. When people ask me if it’s a musical I say it’s more of a mixture of a play and a gig. It’s a very simple story which most people can relate to and is very organic as a piece.
Away from the stage what do you like to do to chill out?
Apart from playing instruments, I’m a big football fan so I’m either watching or playing with friends. Love a good box set and walking my dogs.
Interview questions by Neil Cheesman who you can follow on Twitter @LondonTheatre1