When the other boys in his band followed solo careers, Jason Orange went backpacking. The chill guy even visited Malaysia, writes KIREN KAUR.
I HAD a date with Jason Orange on a Wednesday night. Who is Jason Orange, you ask? Unlike his more famous bandmates Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams, the likes of Orange, Howard Donald and Mark Owen are often referred to as the "pretty background" in the mega successful boy band Take That.
For all that fame, Orange is a very mellow and all around chill bloke.
Take That has come back in a big way after splitting in 1996. The most popular teen pop sensation in Britain since the 60s, the band's latest album Beautiful World (Universal Music) generated much interest in November 2006 with Take That actually offering its record label their money back it the album was poorly received.
Luckily for Orange and his mates, the album has proved to be a great success.
"We are pleased that it is working out well and as you can imagine a successful album helps the group dynamics" the Manchester guy said with a burr in the "r"s.
The first single, Patience, took No 1 and was voted the Best British Single at the recent Brit awards. The second single, a really upbeat Beatles-esque number called Shine, is the band's 10th No 1 single. The album itself entered the charts at Number 1.
Unlike the first time around, the boys now share songwriting responsibilities and Jason was incredibly proud of his first solo effort, Wooden Boat. Admitting that this was his first attempt at song writing, it nonetheless "felt natural and I was quite ready to do it".
Having returned to London after spending nine days in Australia and a week in Japan, Orange must be still struggling with jet lag as he paused for what seemed a minute when I asked him about his backpacking experiences.
While the rest of the band launched solo careers, Orange went backpacking when Take That broke up. "Thailand and New Zealand were perhaps the most favourite places I visited. I wish that everyone had an opportunity to go backpacking or travel on a budget, meet different people and just take in all the amazing experiences".
He slept at hostels and camped out in the open but whenever the groupies caught up with him he had to seek refuge in a five-star hotel.
"When I was in Thailand I had epiphanies galore. Words have always interested me and I kept a journal of my travels.
"Not having keys was very healthy and I know it sounds clichéd but the energy of the place, not sure if it's something in the water or the air or whatever but it was just so enlightening, relaxed and calm."
Jason also spent a week "in a hostel" in our very own Kuala Lumpur. It's amazing to think that a mega star like him could just check in and blend in with the usual crowd at Chinatown and downtown Bukit Bintang.
When he returned to Britain, he did a theatre production called Gob (slang for big mouth) which "totally stressed me out".
"Having come from performing in front of a stage of 20,000 to the small stage, it was a very different job. After six weeks on stage, I lost a lot of weight."
Orange's large family and brothers have been very supportive of Take That's comeback. "One or two of them had reservations but the rest were very keen. The first time around my youngest brother was in school and I didn't consider it at the time. It was a real pain for him to have a famous older brother but he's 26 now and it's cool"
Take That has no plans beyond 2007, just preferring to see what lies ahead but judging from the success of the album to date and with the UK tour sold out in three hours, it does really seem like a Beautiful World for this band.