We meet at an undisclosed Dublin hotel, which he enters via a service door to the rear. Maybe it’s habit, a reflex action from the time when he used to be mobbed just about everywhere he went, but he needn't be so covert - unrecognisable from his former teen-idol self, he could pass through a crowd with ease nowadays. Gone is the signature blond spike/quiff and brightly coloured jumpsuit, replaced instead with a shaved head, goatee and what looks a little like a Nazi tattoo.
I start by asking where his partner-in-crime is, his once inseparable and biological doppelganger, with whom he entertained millions in the halcyon days of 2010. His face drops.
“I haven’t seen The Other One since 2012” He says, sliding back into his chair.
“We were at a bbq at Marty Whelan’s and he started getting really rowdy, throwing the patio furniture over the wall and calling Twink a ‘bastard’ so I told him to cop himself on. We were supposed to be doing a gig for Swizzle Sticks the next morning, but he didn’t turn up. I got a text from him that just said “up urs bro }:-(” and that was that.”
He voice breaks, and he looks to an invisible force above. I allow him gather his breath, and ask him if he knew where he’d gone?
“There was all sorts of rumours. One minute he was living in Derek Mooney's garage. Then I heard he’d been seen puking up Candyfloss on the Waltzers in Funderland. Someone else said he’d joined ISIS”
His head sinks lower and he continues...
“We were searching for a while. Twink helped out, but we couldn’t find him. We went to Derek Mooney's with the Guards to search the garage, but the body the Guards found there wasn’t his. Then I was all set to go to Iraq and look for him, but Louis tol..…”
Just then we’re interrupted by a fan. She squeals in excitement, and asks him to sign her bra. He less than enthusiastically obliges, and gives one of her breasts a half-hearted, limp wristed squeeze
“Things like this remind me of him most” He says as he squeezes nonchalantly
“We used to grab one each and play a little tune with them. Now, it’s just me, going around touching women up and whistling to myself”
When he’s finished his rendition of “Waterline” and eventually lets go of the fan, I ask him why he refers to his brother as “The Other One?”
“To be honest, I’ve forgotten his name. I mean, it’s one or the other but y’know?
I guess that means I’ve forgotten my own name. Maybe I’m the one that’s missing!”
His pained expression shows no sign of easing, and all this soul searching is causing his brow to furrow deeper.
“I still see him. Every time I look in the mirror, there he is”
I remark that he is looking at is his own reflection, but understandably, the concept of this idea is a little too much for a man in such a state of mind.
“Linda Martin used to say we were like twins. And we were. Now, we’re like strangers”
5 Years ago, Jedward were everywhere. They charmed the Eurovision (and the planet) not only once, but twice. Children everywhere had ‘jedward’ hair and sales of Twix rocketed. Now, in the blink of an eye, they’re a mere footnote to the reality-crazed early 2010’s.
“I sort of went back to what I did best. Pop music. I did a new album, and learned some cool new dances. It was good to dust off the old moves, but the album didn’t really do well and I ended up having to sell a load of things, like my parents house, and the dog.”
I ask him about the the record. “KX-129, Digital Soundspraying & A Wolf for Prime Minister” was an ambitious, sprawling set of ‘pieces’ that he recorded late last year with renowned producer Brian Eno.
“Louis headbutted Brian on the first day and came back on the second with Liberty X and tried to finish him off. But he fought him off and jumped over a wall. Then Louis snuck into the studio that night, and taped over all the recordings with just like screaming and him yelling “lalalala”.
Eno actually loved it when he heard it and they now share a flat.”
I finish by asking him a question that I knew would tug firmly at the heart-strings, especially with the time of year (Christmas) and the themes of reconciliation, happiness, and family that come with it.
Is there anything (or anyone) that he wants for Christmas this year?
A tear forms, and he supports his head with his hands. Words stumble slowly from his mouth, and his hunched body seems to mirror the anguish within. He coughs to try and clear the passages, but instead his voice cracks to a tiny high-pitched “Weeeeeeeee”. It’s emotional, and raw.
“I’d…I’d….. Oh god… I’m sorry…. I’d love, you know… Christmas… I’d, really REALLY love…. Sorry, I mean... “
Tears now flow freely, his quivering voice hits several different registers, rather surprisingly actually. He is hurting. This is half a man. And he always will be, without the brother that he loved, and still loves. Laid bare. Broken. In tears. I offer a comforting hand, and tell him to take his time. And he blurts it out. Like a volcano of pent up emotion, the words come spilling from his tortured soul in an eruption.
“I’d….I’d… love… I’d really…. I'D REALLY LOVE AN XBOX!!”
The interview ends.
Jed, from Jedward, is selling of some of his footwear at the Ballyhaunis Car Boot Sale this Saturday from 7am.