How does it feel to be back?
It feels good.
What’s been the best part so far?
Is that your favourite part anyway?
My favourite part is the lives because there’s no breaks. The edit is what the edit is. And there’s no editing. You get to see what people are saying, you get to see what people are thinking, you get to see people’s reactions to the singing and react and act on it. The dialogue between the people at home, the people in the audience, the contestants – it’s powerful.
What does make the perfect trio?
What makes the perfect trio is when three’s company. A horrible trio is when three’s a crowd.
You’re from one of the most successful trios of all time so what’s the secret to your success?
Friendship. When the bond is 100% real. It’s not about money, it’s not about fame.
It’s about the joy of being around each other. As much as it is wonderful to be on stage it’s also to be in the car together. Also, to do interviews together and that same dynamic that’s in photoshoots or in interviews or on stage or in personal time – it’s every element, the bond has to work.
What are you listening for that’s different in trios?
We’re just looking for awesomeness. Whether you’re a solo or a duo or a trio – just be awesome.
When you do turn your chair, that marks a major turning point for these guys. What’s been your biggest career turning point?
No pun intended?! The turning point in my career was…we had a lot of turning points. One was when Eazy-E passed away and then we started Black Eyed Peas that type of…we were afraid, aimless, we were on our own at such an early age and starting the Black Eyed Peas was a turning point. Playing for colleges and building our own fanbase was a turning point. Getting a record deal signing with Jimmy [Iovine] was a turning point. Going on tour and coming to London was a turning point. Where Is The Love? was a turning point. And meeting Fergie was a turning point because we wrote Where Is The Love? way before we met Fergie. And the iPod campaign was a turning point. The NBA campaign was a turning point. Crazy as it sounds My Humps was a turning point. And falling in love with dance, with electro was a turning point. We’ve had constant turning points…and more to come.
Does that keep everything fresh that you’re always looking towards what might be the next turning point and you don’t define it in one single moment that has passed?
Not falling in love with what you just did. You always have to turn the page.
If you had been in the contestant’s shoes or have the opportunity to choose a mentor or coach from anywhere in history, who would that be?
Jimmy Iovine. That’s it. I don’t think anybody could have done for us what Jimmy did for us. His history from doing rock n roll. Working with John Lennon, with Fleetwood Mac, working with Tom Petty, working with Bruce Springsteen, working with Dire Straits, working with U2, working with Dr Dre, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Tupac, No Doubt, Marilyn Manson. ..
A wildly diverse list…
Why be in a box? When I think of Jimmy I think of the opposite of a box. That’s exactly what the Black Eyed Peas are. It’s like no train tracks. Just ocean flow and go in any direction you want…and if it gets hot you turn into mist. You turn into a cloud. If it gets cold you get solid. Jimmy is just all shapes, all forms.
What kind of coach do you think you are to your team?
I try my best to be what Jimmy was for me. Not many singers are artists and not many artists are flexible to be pushed. People want mentorship but they don’t know how to take mentorship. People want the advice but don’t know how to apply the advice. People want to make it but people don’t have patience to make it. Do you have patience to make it? Nobody does. I remember one-time Jimmy said “Will, you’re the kind of person that has to sit at the table as long as possible and if you can figure out a way to sit at the table as long as possible you’ll always add to the table.” For a while I was like what?! Sit at the table? Oh that’s right. You want to sit at the table. Most people will get impatient and be like when’s the food coming out? If you’ve been out the table and three hours have passed and no one’s brought food out most people will walk away. Most people will get frustrated. And very few people – and if it’s like six hours and they’re still waiting at the table – very few people will go and get the food and bring it to the table. Most people will just walk out the room and then complain that they didn’t get any food. The table is the platform. The food isn’t there. And you’re waiting for someone to bring the food. Sometimes you’re supposed to go and get the food or summon the food. Most people will get impatient and leave. They leave the table. The metaphor is the table is the place to be but what do you bring to the table is what the whole riddle is.
How is your team this year?
I think I got what I was looking for. I’ve got the trio that’s suited for the best career. I have a singer or two that are great performers and awesome singers. Young, youthful, singing, performing, dynamite – I have that. Now I have to do my job as a coach to make my singers the best they can be.