Down-to-earth Jake and his band reach for the stars

Jake, far right, on the couch with his band

Jake, far right, on the couch with his band

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Everyone knows who Shane Richie is.

Ditto Coleen Nolan, one of the singing sisters who used to be one of the biggest acts in Britain.

But the pair might have to get used to being in the shade, 
because their son is on the way to overshadowing them.

Jake Roche (Shane Richie’s real surname is Roche) is past 
being on the verge of great things. He’s already there.

Jake is a household name in America where his band, Rixton, are managed by one of music’s biggest stars, super producer Scooter Braun.

He is in the midst of travelling the world playing gigs and, when the group’s debut 
album is released later this year, some predict they will become almost as popular as all-conquering boyband One Direction.

Parents Shane and Coleen are rightly proud, though having a son who is more famous than yourself must take a bit of getting used to.

As Shane tweeted the other day: “My boy is on The Ellen Show tomorrow and there’s me thinking I cracked it when I was on Titchmarsh!”

Jake is 21 and lived in Blackpool for about six years from the age of 10, after his showbiz parents split.

Given how famous he’s fast becoming, that’s a topic he’s probably going to get asked about a lot.

To his credit, he doesn’t hesitate to answer when I broach the subject.

“I was eight or nine years old when mum and dad split and I was living down South. That’s when I came to Blackpool with my mum,” he said.

“They are still really close now and they were close at the time.

“It was talked about a lot in the media when it was happening but I was too young to understand what was going on.

“Now I’ve got a great stepdad as well and we are all just one big happy family. Plus it means I get more presents at Christmas, which is brilliant!”

It must have been a different upbringing though, having 
famous folks?

“I was born into it so I’ve not 
really known anything 
different,” he said. “I lived in Blackpool for around seven years, went to St John Vianney’s and St Mary’s schools ... I just had a normal background.

“Now and then we’d get invited to places or someone famous would come round the house and it would be strange.

“But in the main I had a normal time, mates who I’d kick a ball with on Stanley Park ... just a normal background.”

The music career came about through a freindship with a lad called Danny Wilkin, whose parents ran the Bourne Poacher pub in Thornton.

“The pair of us were originally in a band with my brother (better known as Shane Richie jnr). We did cover songs and our first gig was at the Old Bridge pub on Lytham Road,” 
explained Jake.

“But Danny and I decided we wanted to focus on songwriting, so we left, sat in a caravan at the back of Danny’s parents’ pub, and just wrote a load of songs.”

But how do you get from a 
caravan in Blackpool to worldwide fame?

With a lot of graft and a bit of luck it seems.

After adding guitarist Charley Bagnall and drummer Lewi Morgan, they began to post cover songs on YouTube.

“They somehow fell into the right hands, and from there it has been absolutely crazy,” said Jake.

What falling into the right hands means is they were spotted by Scooter Braun, the man who discovered Justin Bieber.

After spotting Jake’s band Rixton on YouTube, he flew over from America, demanded to meet the them face-to-face, and offered them a deal there and then.

The slightly dumbstruck lads had little hesitation in saying yes.

The last year has been a blur of worldwide touring and, through accomplished performances and word of mouth, they have been rapidly increasing their following.

They are already pretty huge in America and Australia, and are expected to do the same in the UK when their debut album – produced by Benny Blanco (Katy Perry, Maroon 5) – is 
released later this year.

“It is slowly happening for us,” said Jake, who spoke to me from the backseat of a car in Hamburg (“we’re on our way to do a radio interview ... it’s so nice to hear a Lancashire 
accent”, he says).

New single Me And My Broken Heart made the US Billboard top 20 and is on the radio non-stop over here ahead of its official release next month.

“It is just crazy,” added Jake, genuine bewilderment in his voice.

“We are playing Wireless and all the festivals over summer and can’t wait to get our teeth into these big shows.

“At the moment we are bigger in America.

“It has blown up over there. We sold out our headline tour in under 10 minutes, which is mad.

“I suppose that’s happened because our label and management is over there, so US radio took to it quicker.

“But we are constantly focused on home as well.

“We want to break the UK. But when something like the 
opportunity of breaking America comes first I think you just have to take it and run.”

One of the toughest things for a 21-year-old thrust into fame is keeping your feet on the ground.

Jake says two things are 
helping him stay sane.

“My mum and dad, who’ve been there and done it, have given me good advice on that front,” he said.

“Me and the boys lived at my mum’s house for two years, before we got signed, when we were uploading our covers.

“We’d stay up late and chat about stuff and they’d constantly give us advice.

“It is mainly just about how you handle yourself, the pressure, about taking each day as it comes and just enjoying it really.

“The other reason it’s easier to stay grounded is because there are four of us in the band.

“I think if it was a solo thing and you are constantly on your own, I think it would be easy to get led off the track a bit.

“At the moment, OK, there are a few girls here and there, but we are good at staying focused and realising there’s a job to do.”

Besides, Jake couldn’t get carried away even if he wanted to.

This is a lad who grew up playing Sunday League football for the Philharmonic and Pump and Truncheon (“I had to stop because our music manager told me I’d be screwed if I got injured”) and has mates all over Blackpool.

“Last time I went home it was great.

“We went out in Blackpool to a few of the bars,” he said.

“My mate is a DJ at Ego Bar so we went there and had a few drinks.

“It is just good to see everybody. Old school mates all keep up to date with what’s happened on Facebook. It is just good.

“I surround myself with people who I’ve grown up with, so you don’t get lost in the bull**** of it all.” For those who haven’t heard Rixton, they do radio-friendly pop and R&B with plenty of harmonies.

And it’s something he wants to last a long time. “We are absolutely jam-packed at the moment between Europe and the US, constantly back and forth, and the single is really kicking off in Australia as well so we are going to head over there at some point,” he said.

“But I think the main thing for us is longevity and to keep it going. We want to be doing this until we are old and grey so we’ve just got to keep going and writing the songs and 
recording.”

He stops, pauses, and adds: “I guess given the upbringing I had, I was always going to get into entertainment or music. I’ve not known anything different from a young age.

“So it is definitely in the blood, I love every minute, and I know my parents are so proud of me.”

As they should be.

This is a man, and a band, headed for big things.

* For more about Rixton and what they’re up to head to www.rixtononline.com.