When I first met Jeremy Redmore in 2009, he was the charismatic 23-year-old lead singer of up-and-coming Midnight Youth. He stood out with his edgy 70s rock star swagger, but it was mostly that mighty voice that drew you in.
The band went on to great - albeit brief - things. They shot up the charts with anthems like All On Our Own and The Letter, toured the world and headlined major festivals. But it all ended abruptly just two records in, when their frontman called it quits.
Today, Redmore is barely recognisable compared to the young singer back then on the cusp of big things. The trademark specs are still there, but long gone are the unruly locks and the trilby hat. The bravado is replaced with a quiet confidence. He's about to release his debut solo album Clouds Are Alive and although he has no idea where it'll take him, he's content. There are no regrets.
That's not to say it's been easy. "I feel lucky to be doing this again. It's been a crazy 18 months. There were many times when I didn't think I would get to release music again."
Redmore made the difficult decision to leave Midnight Youth in 2012, seeking personal growth. "Artistic direction was definitely a big part of it. The guys were heading down a heavy rock path and my music listening was turning towards a totally different direction. I think that's just a natural thing when you've been hanging out with people for seven years," he says.
"Plus, I think the atmosphere within the band, as an organism, became quite toxic. Not to the point where we were having big blow-ups with one another, but I wanted to be part of something positive."
The first songs Redmore started trickling online after he left the band were rather sad and solemn; a far cry from the rock feel of Midnight Youth's second album World Comes Calling. And interestingly, a far cry from what's now made the final cut on his debut solo record.
He's already had radio success with catchy pop tune Bad Philosophy and current single Run, Run - which harks back Midnight Youth's anthemic sound - looks to be following suit.
"There was a period there where I was writing those slower more introspective songs and I suppose that was that period before I left the band and they reflect that," he says.
"But I wanted to have an album of songs that were upbeat and reflected my personality - most of the time. Plus, it was more of a challenge to do that. I can write moody songs. I've always written depressing little acoustic songs and I found it much more challenging to write upbeat songs -- good ones, anyway."
It's nice to see Redmore's cheeky side shining through again. He's still the same guy that led Midnight Youth to success, with the same powerful set of pipes, just a little older and wiser now.
Listen to Clouds Are Alive, the debut solo album from ex-Midnight Youth frontman, Jeremy Redmore, streaming all week on nzherald.co.nz.
Clouds Are Alive is released July 25, pre-order here.