One year ago the Ginger Bread Men shot to prominence on the Channel 4 reality show Mobile Act Unsigned. As it returns for a second year I thought it wise to catch of with the guys and find out what’s cooking.

Desperate puns aside its and interesting proposition: after their semi-final axing did they a) call it a day, or b) keep plugging away, taking their sound to a massively expanded fan-base?

Happily the answer here is the latter.

In case you’ve forgotten about the show allow me to quote liberally from my column of 12 months ago to jog your memory.

“Consider this a proper music fan’s alternative to the XFactor; It’s a talent show for acts with genuine talent and punters with genuine taste.”

A slightly pompous yet pretty informative description I hope you will agree.

Cutting a long story short the GBM absolutely blew the judges’ (Alex James, Jo Whiley, and Simon Gavin) minds with a rip roaring rendition of Dazzling Urbanite – three minutes or so of contemporary Indie/punk/pop sharp enough to pick your teeth with.

After falling away in the later rounds they remained, however, favourites of Jo Whiley’s….and mine.

“The hottest act ever to come out of Bushey,” I fawned back in November. But did the show prove a help or a hindrance?

“It’s been a great year for us since,” says bassist Matt Worsdall, older brother of guitarist Ollie.

“We’ve carried on gigging and, basically, doing what we were doing before. Even though we didn’t win, and even got a fair bit of criticism, it massively boosted our confidence.

“Really, it made us become a better band. When you’ve got those type of people telling you they think you’re good it’s a great feeling.”

Indeed, Blur’s Alex James genuinely thought highly of the GBM; so too Jo Whiley – both of whom know a decent band when they see one.

Media mogul Simon Gavin, however, thought differently. After criticising the guys’ lack of material Gavin (the Simon Cowell figure sitting on all the cash) effectively forced the lads out – but not before sending them (along with a half dozen or so other acts) on a UK wide tour.

“That was brilliant,” adds 21-year-old Matt, who’s just completed his degree at Nottingham University.

“It helped us develop new material – that was one of the main criticisms we had from Simon, and, looking back, he was probably right.

“Since the show we’ve written a lot of new material and really worked on our sound.

“Apart from the first two songs we played on the show we’ve got rid of all the other ones.”

This refreshingly humble approach seems to be working well, with the GBM gigging all over London and adding still further to the legion of fans they picked up on the show.

They recently came fourth (out of hundreds of entrants) in an Xfm competition to support The Subways and are currently working on their debut album.

“We’re still unsigned but that was one of the best bits of advice we had from the show: not to sign anything until we needed it. We’ve been told just to go out and enjoy it for the time being.

“It was a great experience for us and we never regretted it for a minute. It was the best thing we’ve done as a band. But we still want to achieve more.”

This year’s competition, renamed Orange Act Unsigned (I smell a bit of mobile phone marketing) begins on Thursday, October 30, on T4. Winners will be announced in January.

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