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Talking Shop: Same Difference

Same Difference
Simon Cowell initially said the pair were "potentially two of the most annoying people I've ever met"
Same Difference are brother and sister duo Sean and Sarah Smith.

They came third in last year's X Factor despite opposition from Louis Walsh, who described them as "two wind-up Ken and Barbie dolls".

The siblings then signed a contract with Simon Cowell's record label, SyCo, and have been styled as pure pop singing siblings, in the High School Musical mould.

Their debut album, Pop, has been masterminded by former Steps manager Tim Byrne and pop svengali Pete Waterman and features their current single, We R One.

Hello Same Difference. Where are you right now?

Sarah: We're sat in the offices at SyCo.

Is it supposed to be pronounced "psycho" - as in deranged killer?

Sean: [laughs] Yes, it is! It's a bit of a random name for a record company.

You performed in front of Simon Cowell again on Saturday's X Factor. What was that like?

Sean: It was really nerve-wracking. Literally my mouth was dry and my heart was beating.

Once it was done, we were like, "thank God it's over". We went into Simon Cowell's dressing room afterwards and he gave us both a big hug.

Same Difference
Cowell later relented and called the siblings "genuinely nice people"
What's it like being on the receiving end of a hug from Simon Cowell?

Sarah: You still feel like, "oooh, should I be hugging you"? It's really weird, but he's really lovely.

Sean: It was strange. I went to shake his hand and he was like, "no, come on, we've known each other longer than that - give us a hug". And I was like, "urrrgh". A bit awkward.

He's very muscly, isn't he?

Sarah: He is! I think he's been working out.

You must have been pleased when Louis Walsh admitted he'd been wrong about you. [Walsh said: "I will be buying their single, and I was wrong and I want everyone to support them".]

Sean: It was lovely for Louis to turn round and eat some humble pie.

Sarah: I was ready to burst into tears then and there. I was like, "we've waited a whole year for that comment".

Sean: I think Simon told him to, though. I think he had a word and said, "look, you will tell them that they're good".

So you don't believe it was genuine?

Sarah: Noooo... He was really lovely afterwards and he sent us a text saying, "you did great tonight guys and we're really proud of you".

Louis was in a weird mood on Saturday night. He even made Dannii Minogue cry…

Sean: It was all a bit dramatic for my liking. But, yeah, it was a bit of a strange one. Everyone was kind of in the dark about what was happening.

The tensions run quite high on X Factor, don't they?

Sarah: Oh definitely. Everybody wants to win.

Do you remember what the atmosphere was like in the contestants' house last year?

Sean: It's very intense. People say they're best of friends and they're in this together but, mark my words, there's a real underlying competitive streak in everybody.

Same Difference
The band still live near their family in Portsmouth
Your X Factor performance had about 40 dancers and fireworks and glitter - how did it all come together?

Sean: It was Simon's idea. He really, really wanted the scale that High School Musical has got, and he's going all out to make sure that we're not a cheap rip-off of them. He wants us to really challenge that market.

The High School Musical singles traditionally haven't done that well in the UK charts, even though the albums have sold by the bucketload. Does that worry you at all?

Sean: A little bit. Obviously, we're unsure how people are going to react to this, because there's no-one else doing this real pop like we're doing. So it's a case of just wait and see.

On your album you've covered Turn It Into Love - which Kylie also released in 1988. Do you think you're worthy?

Sean: I'll be completely honest - Kylie's such a massive star at the moment that no, we're not. But I still think our version is absolutely fantastic and I think Pete Waterman's done a fantastic job on it.

Is it safe to trust Pete Waterman? He had a good track record in the 1980s and 90s, but when he put together One True Voice it was a disaster…

Sean: The thing about One True Voice is that they were sort of cool and they were given this pop song to sing and it was weird for them. Whereas we are pop and we're proud of it, so it was the perfect combination.

You say you're pop but, Sean, I hear you're a big Kings Of Leon fan…

Sean: I am, yeah. Massive! Obviously, we're pop but it doesn't mean that in my downtime I slip on the S Club 7 and Steps stuff. But, yeah, I'm into Kings Of Leon, I love the Script, and I've been listening to Leona's version of Snow Patrol's Run a lot lately as well.

So a few years down the line will we see you greasing back your hair and strapping on an "axe"?

Sean: Yeah. I'll kick my kid sister into touch and I'll go out on my own. Naaah, not really.

Sarah, last year you spoke quite openly about being bullied at school and how that affected you. Would you say all the success from the last year has given your confidence a boost?

Sarah: People and bullies used to say to me that I wouldn't make it. And even after we came out of the X Factor, when we were in limbo for a few months, I just felt: "Oh no, maybe they're right."

But now we've got the album and I can go out and see it in shops, and they'll go in and see it too.

I'm sure they won't be buying it - but it makes me feel a whole lot better.

Wouldn't you love to send them a copy with "told you so" written all over it in felt tip?

Sarah: Revenge would be sweet but I'm not that kind of person. You've got to let bygones be bygones.

Same Difference were talking to BBC Entertainment reporter Mark Savage. We R One is out now, and the album, Pop, is released on 1 December.

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Same Difference out of X Factor
15 Dec 07 |  Entertainment

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