If you were Matt Cardle right now you would have reason to be pretty angry.
You won the X Factor, you’ve been flat out working on your debut album and then just weeks before you release your debut album teenyboppers One Direction – who lost against you – release their debut single, cause nationwide hysteria and go straight to the top of the charts.
“They’re competition and it is s*** that they got to release before the winner of the actual show,” Matt, 28, says. “It’s also worrying me that if One Direction decide to get slicker and go for more of an older market – which I think they might do – then I’m stuffed too.
“I just hope I’ll be able to cement myself into the charts before that happens. Otherwise I’ll be fuming. At the end of the day James Morrison, Coldplay, Adele and everybody else are all competition – so I can’t win unless I have an album that does the talking – and I think it does.”
He actually blames the fact he’s taken his time on his first album since winning the show as the reason everything has been screwed up release wise. The singer adds: “If I had my album finished by the time Cher Lloyd and One Direction released their tracks in the charts then I would have been really bothered. But the truth is I wasn’t finished. It’s my own bloody fault taking my time on this record.
“Simon let me go away and co-write the album and work on this as a long term prospect. And I wasn’t ready and it wasn’t right to release the music earlier.
“I’m surprised I’ve been allowed to go away and get on with it. If they were to have taken the control away from me then I would have been devastated. Thankfully they didn’t. I honestly thought I was going to be turned into some X Factor puppet the minute I won. But I’m not.”
Instead of going down the usual route of rushing the winner into the studio, performing a load of covers and mediocre pop tracks and launching a full blown publicity attack, Matt’s gone away and worked with real stars of the music industry.
Despite having written four solo albums before finding fame on the show, his debut single Run For Your Life is penned by Gary Barlow and his main collaborator on the album Letters is producer and song writer Eg White.
Eg’s responsible for some of the classic songs of our generation having worked with James Blunt, Adele, Florence and the Machine and James Morrison. The singer says his previous work before he found household fame on X Factor persuaded Simon Cowell and his record label Columbia to let him start his album from scratch. The only cover is his No.1 version of Biffy Clyro’s When We Collide which made Christmas Number One last year.
“If they had been a pile of w*** then they would have said I was doing what they wanted and I would have had no choice – but they weren’t and they let me go and do it,” says Matt. “Simon has been really sweet with me the whole time. It’s almost been good that he’s had X Factor US on his plate so I could just get on with it. I doubt I was that high on his list. I hear he’s heard the album and I’ve heard he loves it so that’s the thumbs up from him.”
Matt, who worked as a painter and decorator, bricklayer and postman before finding fame on the ITV1 show, has a refreshingly honest outlook on his chances of success. He says he won’t be miffed if he doesn’t score an immediate chart topper. He explains: “I’ve got the hard bit of work now – I’ve got to keep what I’ve achieved. If a new artist comes out with a new record and gets a top ten single or album it’s an incredible achievement in this current day.
“But if I were to come out and not get a number one then I’m going to be a failure. Even if I get a number three I’d be happy but I’ll be deemed a flop. That’s not fair. I want to make my name through this album now – not the TV show.
“I’m desperate to shake off the X Factor tag. It’s all about shaking the X when it comes to the music I’m about the release. But I can’t knock the show for what it’s done for me. I’ve got my break from it and I’ve got my foot in the door by doing it. Now it’s time to move on and just be me.”
And behind closed doors the star is definitely settling down and being himself – with his dancer girlfriend of nine months Sarah Robinson by his side.
The pair live in a private Chelsea block and he proudly stops his car on the way out of our interview to purchase her a fancy £1,000 Burberry handbag. It’s clear the ladies man of yester-year – remember his fling with X Factor fashion director Grace Woodward? – has simmered, for now.
“The girls have stopped chasing,” he says. “I’ve not been out much. I guess I haven’t thrown it about at all – and I could have. I’ve got a girlfriend now and I’m pretty much settled down.
“If I had been single I would have been out there smashing it up and getting naughty with women. I’m in a good place and it’s been easier working hard on the album with just the one girl on my arm.”
But there is one girl Matt has his eye on – and it’s not your average sexy lady. “I fancy the Williams sisters – the big manly one, Serena,” he laughs with a naughty glint in his eye. “She’s nice.”
Matt’s single Run For Your Life is out October 9 and his debut album Letters is out October 17.