Wherstead: 2013 was a difficult year in so many ways says X Factor winner Matt Cardle

Matt Cardle, headlining Jimmy's Sausage and Beer Festival this Sunday. Photo: JOSEPH SINCLAIR

Matt Cardle, headlining Jimmy's Sausage and Beer Festival this Sunday. Photo: JOSEPH SINCLAIR - Credit: Archant

It’s been nearly eight months since X Factor winner Matt Cardle last touched a drop of alcohol or drugs - and he couldn’t be happier.

Cardle is currently working on his fourth album. Photo: JOSEPH SINCLAIR

Cardle is currently working on his fourth album. Photo: JOSEPH SINCLAIR - Credit: Archant

Last year was tough for the singer from Halstead, Essex, in so many ways. Not only did he have the pressures of writing, recording and releasing his third album, he also broke up with his girlfriend and admits there was a whole heap of other battles going on inside his head.

“I’d first taken prescription drugs to combat my fear of flying, I hated it – still do. It wasn’t long before I was taking them on a daily basis just to get through long work days, in what became lethal quantities,” he remembers.

“It wasn’t until I returned home with the family at Christmas that it hit home something was terribly wrong and I needed help. Life is about going through good and bad times but coming out the other end a better, stronger and happier person.

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol or drugs since January 1 - it feels great. Oh, I still hate flying but Rage Against The Machine are on repeat in my ears during every take off, patch of turbulence and landing.”

Now London-based, he’s looking forward to playing Jimmy’s Sausage and Beer Festival this Sunday and the Homegrown Music Festival in Barrow, near Bury St Edmunds, on August 23.

“I get back to see the family lots, that was a conscious decision I made after coming out of rehab at the beginning of this year. My brother just got married in Cyprus too last month, so that felt like a big family holiday.”

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Nineteen million people watched him win the hit ITV1 show in 2010, the most watched season ever - my wife doesn’t let me forget she pegged him as the winner during his very first audition.

Cardle says it may sound a little crazy but it doesn’t feel that long ago.

“Hello and thank you to your wife,” he smiles. “I’ve crammed so much into the last three-and-a-half years. I’ve released three albums and toured five times across the UK and Ireland. You spend so much time on the road you can lose track of time and it feels like a lifetime.

“Yet there is so much more I want to do and wonder how I will fit it all in. All I know is that I’ve loved every second so far and the future excites me.”

The show has its critics. Even former judge Sharon Osbourne reportedly warned serious singers who write their own material not to sign up for it because it would compromise their vision and ruin their credibility.

So many people want to be performers but only a few ever truly make it so Cardle, who has sold 2.2million records in the UK alone, sees it as a brilliant platform for anyone wanting to be noticed - with the chance to be seen by millions. “People often tell me I didn’t quite fit The X Factor mould because I’m a singer who writes songs and plays the guitar and piano. I’m not what you would call a traditional pop star, but that’s what makes the show so unique, anyone can have go. I’m very grateful to the show and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

“All you can do is to try to make the best of every situation - what’s the worst that’s really going to happen?”

Like many of those who came before and after him, Cardle has changed labels since the show.

His first album, Letters, took a year to come together and he’s made no secret of the fact he wasn’t keen on first single Run For Your Life.

“I didn’t feel connected to it. The song was the last track I recorded for the album and I guess my mind was set on another track being my first single by that late stage. I’m incredibly proud of that album though, it sold really well and I still love performing so many of the songs on it.

“As we started looking at recording the second album I knew myself and Columbia had a difference in opinion regarding the A&R direction and it was easier for all concerned to go our separate ways. There was certainly no falling out and I had a great catch up with Simon Cowell just a couple of months ago. It’s great to see him back on the panel this year, he’s been missed.”

With his fourth album due out next year, Cardle is staying quite tight-lipped about his new material at the moment; admitting he’s experimenting quite a bit in the studio with lots of different producers.

There’s definitely a new sound going on which is very exciting, he says before adding while he’s not looking to change too drastically, as an artist you always want to be creative.

“I’m in such a happy place right now that I want to have some fun with the music and I think that’s really coming across. I’m hoping to unleash something new towards the end of this year.”

He does say fans at this weekend and next month’s festivals can expect material from his three albums Letters, The Fire and Porcelain plus some covers and a couple of surprises.

“I always try to do something different for every show. Jimmy’s Farm will be more acoustic based.”

Cardle is appreciative of his fans for sticking with him.

“A huge thank you to everyone, from the bottom of my heart. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who continues to show such love and support. I love performing live as I get to see so many of the fans up-close. I hope we can both enjoy the music together for many more years to come,” he smiles.

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