See the unique juNK at South Hill Park next weekBy Caroline Cook
October 19, 2012
JuNK might make music from old bottles and empty metal waste bins – but they are far from rubbish.
The four-piece performance troupe, who were crowned the winners of Sky One talent show Don’t Stop Me Now in April, have been making a big impression on the stage with their quirky show.
Instead of using conventional instruments the JuNk boys – Sam McGowan, Russell Brooks, Jake Briggs and Jay Osbourne – dance and leap around the stage playing bottles together before performing on a makeshift drum kit made out of old barrels.
“We’ve got things like didgeridoos and big industrial waste pipes that we have cut to different lengths and we hit them with flip flops,” explains Sam, as he and Jay chat about the show on speakerphone, before a performance at a theatre in Dorset.
The pals met while studying performing arts at Brockenhurst College in Hampshire and came up with the concept for a dance exam.
“We’re not the best movers so we based the dance around music,” says Jay. “It was a very basic version of what we are doing now.
“We sort of kept doing it for a bit of fun and started to pick up corporate work doing festivals and carnivals and we thought this is something we could possibly take to the next level.”
To create the show the guys sourced their rubbish from all sorts of places, stopping their cars on the roadside and hopping out to see if something they spotted sounded as good as it looked.
“Some of it we find, some of it is given to us,” says Sam. “And some of it we just pick up along the way.
“Some times things you think aren’t going to sound very good end up being something really cool.”
While gigging at small venues around the UK the guys landed their big break on Sky One show, Don’t Stop Me Now.
“It was an amazing experience,” says Sam. “We put our name in for it and a few weeks later they said they were interested.
“We didn’t really think too much; even the day before we were just thinking we’ll take it as it comes.”
Despite their laid-back attitude the guys were in for a shock when they were told they had made it through to the final, but would have to perform a new routine on the same day for an advanced recording.
“When we turned up we thought that there was the main competition and a separate special for the finale,” says Sam.
“We had prepared a 100-second clip for the show but as we walked off they said we’ll be recording the final in 10 minutes.
“We rushed out into the car park and stuck together bits from other shows.”
The impromptu performance saw JuNk win the competition and receive support from the likes of comedian Mickey Flannigan, presenter Amanda Holden and world-famous figure skaters Torvill and Dean.
And it looks as if the four pals might be following in the footsteps of Brighton-based performance group Stomp, who took the world by storm in 1991 with their percussion-based show which featured dustbin lids and brooms as instruments.
JuNk’s debut tour, And Then There Were Four, has been a hit with audiences around the country and arrives in Bracknell next week.
It tells the story of four lonely scavengers left behind after a weather-torn apocalypse.
As they prowl around the wastelands they discover bits of rubbish to keep boredom at bay but when they come across a mysterious crate they find more than they bargained for.
“It’s singing, dancing, drumming and acting, all using rubbish and junk as our instruments,” says Sam, who admits it’s impossible to leave the world of JuNk on the stage.
“Our heads are always in it,” he says. “You will walk past something and think that’s going to sound really good.
“We have been doing this four or five years now and hopefully we’ll be doing it four times longer than that.
“Over the last two years we have given everything up and basically put 100 per cent of ourselves into JuNk – and it’s starting to pay off.”
n Tickets are £19, £18 concessions, £17 members and £15 under 21s.
To book call the box office on (01344) 484 123.