Rock School graduate gets busy

The single has been recorded, the video shot, but before Lowestoft’s Chris Hardman can get on with being a full-time rock star, he must face the dreaded task of collecting his GCSE results. Lynette Alcock catches up with the jet set singer.

While most 15-year-olds are anxiously waiting for their GCSE results and wondering what to do next, Lowestoft teenager Chris Hardman is keeping his mind on other things.

Ever since the pint-sized star of Channel Four's Rock School signed a £500,000 record deal with RCA - the same label as Justin Timberlake - in July, his feet have hardly touched the ground.

Over the past month, while his friends have spent the summer holidays kicking around Lowestoft, Chris has been living in central London, working 20-hour days recording, performing, starring in video shoots and giving interviews.

Now as his friends at Kirkley High School prepare to pick up their GCSE results tomorrow, Chris is jetting out to Ibiza for a television performance and wondering where his new single, Checking it Out, will chart when it is released on September 25.

He said: "I'm not really thinking about my GCSE results at the moment, I'm just so busy.

"I'd like to do well, but if I don't, it doesn't matter. I want to get good grades for me, not because I want to be an accountant or a lawyer. And, really, GCSEs are just a stepping stone to college or A levels, so if you don't do well it's not the end of the world.

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"I was planning on going to East Norfolk College in September, but I'm literally not going to have the time, it just won't be practical, so I'm going to have at least a year out.

"I'm really enjoying doing the rock stuff at the moment. I see this as a job - it is like I left school to do a job, even though it doesn't feel like work because it's fun. I just want to do it for as long as I can and go back to education later."

But being a full time rock star is no easy feat, as Chris is fast finding out.

"It is busier than I ever thought it would be," he said. "There is a lot of pressure, but I absolutely love it. It is the best fun in the world.

"I'm doing stuff every day - promotion, press. We recorded the video for Checking it Out last week - there were three camera crews - and it shows me being pulled through a house by a microphone. On top of that I think I've done 12 interviews this week.

"I just find myself thinking: 'what the hell am I doing?'. I love it so much but it is so tiring and I'm working 20-hour days."

Lil Chris, as he likes to be known, was back in town at the weekend to perform at EastFest 2006, a day-long musical festival on Lowestoft beach.

He shot to fame on Channel Four's Rock School where, under the tuition of Kiss frontman Gene Simmons, he became the lead singer of the school's rock band, eventually performing in front of 20,000 people supporting Judas Priest in California.

As a solo artist he has so far completed his album, which is now in post-production, recorded a video for his single, which was song of the week on Scott Mills's Radio One show last week, and is busy promoting his new material.

He has also been invited by X factor judge Sharon Osbourne to appear on her daytime chat show, Mrs Osbourne Presents.

But with his 16th birthday looming on Saturday, despite all the glitz and glamour of showbiz life the teenage star is looking forward to a few days at home.

He said: "I'm coming back to Lowestoft for my birthday and I can't wait. I miss it so much. Being away, I just realise how nice it is now.

"I miss my friends and just knowing everywhere I go.

"I know every street in Lowestoft, and my mum is just amazing to me.

"I really enjoy what I'm doing but it has not really sunk in.

"I can't explain it but it doesn't feel like it's real. It doesn't feel like it's happening to me.

"It is just too weird for words."

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