One percent of the votes — that was what determined Reece Mastin as the winner of The X Factor for 2011. But runner-up Andrew Wishart’s life has still been turned around, as he’s gone from former nut salesman to X Factor grand finalist. We chatted to Andrew this morning and he talked about missing his family, the resemblance between his wife, Robbie, and his mentor Natalie Bassingthwaighte, and the biggest thing he’s learnt about himself.
How are you?
Good, good, we’re a bit tired, but we’re good.
How much sleep did you get last night after the wrap party?
I’ll put it this way: I got more than Johnny Ruffo! I had about three-and-a-half [hours], so we’re all right.
How was the party?
It was good fun. Everyone let their hair down. Obviously being on the show all the staff and crew, they remain professional in what they say to you, but when you get to the party they let their emotions out, and it’s really nice.
Congratulations on making the top two — what was your reaction to finding out there was only a one percent difference between you and Reece?
The amazement, that something could be so huge and that in terms of votes it was still that close. Not only that, but I think I said last night that I was up against the Reece Mastin Machine — he’s got an amazing amount of followers, Twitter, Facebook and those types of things. When Johnny was eliminated I just thought to myself, ‘Yeah, I’m in a little bit of trouble here!’
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How much did your confidence grow after you made it through without ever being in the bottom two?
Diplomatically, whatever elimination I got through, I said to myself that I had a smaller chance of getting through the next one. They ask the question a lot of times, ‘Why should you win?’ and it’s hard to answer! Everyone wants to win. But my confidence did grow, especially when I got to the top four. I started thinking I realistically had a bit of a chance.
You struggled with being away from your family. How often did you get to see them?
When they say struggle, we all missed someone, everyone missed someone, and it was only a few weeks where we really struggled, but then we sorted things out and it was all good from there. My wife and kids came up every now and then, because flying five people back and from Melbourne and with accommodation is quite expensive, but I saw my kids about three or four times, and Robbie probably five times. I was able to contact them — if I wasn’t able to, I don’t think I would’ve lasted!
What was it like to look back over your journey, from nut salesman to X Factor grand finalist?
It’s interesting. I didn’t really get to see the package, and so many things are going through your head, there’s so much noise and everything going on. I look back at the very start, when I did the first audition with Adele, and I look back to making the top two, and I just think there’s been a transformation in me with my self confidence.
Your last performance had a sweet touch with all your wedding and family photos — whose idea was that?
Squared Division, the creative directors for the show, had that idea, and I reckon it was one of their best. And the package before I sang last night, I literally had to switch off and not listen to it, because otherwise it would’ve gotten to me.
What has it been like for your kids to have dad on TV twice a week?
Oh, it was just magic! Especially with them being away, at least they had a little fix of me every now and then [laughs]! My little daughter, Indiah, said at one stage, ‘Dad, I think I might be becoming famous.’ I said, ‘Why’s that, darling?’ and she goes, ‘Because all the grade preps wanna hold my hand at school now!’ She’s cute.
Was there ever a running joke that Natalie and your wife look similar?
There wasn’t a running joke, but I heard people say it! I’m sure my wife would be rapt, and hopefully Natalie would be rapt, too!
When the judges were being interviewed on Sunrise yesterday, they were saying that in the package it looked like you were kissing Natalie! And she was like, ‘I just want to make it clear that we’re close, but not that close!’
[Laughs] No comment! No, that was definitely my wife! Natalie would be aghast!
What are some of the best things Natalie and the competition taught you?
That’s pretty easy: self confidence. Just to ground yourself, believe in yourself, believe that you’ve got a great voice, and I guess the results speak for themselves. Australia really got behind me. It’s a singing competition, and it’s also a popularity competition. At the end of the day, I think they got it right. I would’ve loved to have won — if I said I wasn’t that little bit emotional and disappointed that I didn’t win, I’d be lying. I really wanted it for us. But I just hope and pray that something happens for me here on in.
The kind of exposure you get from shows like this is priceless.
I don’t really grasp all that yet. I just don’t grasp the fact that there’s such a big following out there, but I guess in time I will.
How did you get on with the other contestants?
Really good. It was a really close-knit group.
Were you ever the father figure?
[Laughs] Christina Parie used to help me out with Twitter and all that stuff. I had no idea what I was doing. A couple of comments I’d make here and there, I’d say something to Reece or Christina or Declan, and then I’d stop and pull myself up and say, ‘Shut up Andrew, you’re sounding like a father.’ [Laughs]
What are you going to do now?
There’s a few things in the pipeline. I’m desperate to release that single that I did, I just loved the song so much. I hope Sony like it as well and allow me to release it. But that’s wishful thinking, I don’t know! I wanna make sure I keep doing a lot of gigs. With the show you’re involved emotionally as well, and it’s financial because you’re up there for a long time. My beautiful wife Robbie just coped with everything beautifully. She was so consciously aware that you have to give so much attention and so much concentration into what you’re doing at that time, so she never burdened me with any of that stuff.
Photo courtesy of Channel Seven