Your new album has a mix of musical theatre tracks and more pop songs...
Well, not really pop - more mainstream songs with an element of theatricality. I didn't want to do an album just of musical theatre, but I also didn't want to go too far away from it, so we chose songs that lend themselves to theatricality - Thunderball, Nature Boy and so on - just showing a different side of me.
And there are some Phantom songs on there, but not the ones you usually sing.
Yes - there's a different version of Music of the Night, with new orchestrations. I wanted to work with Natasha Marsh as she's got a fantastic voice, and so we duet on All I Ask Of You. A lot of fans wanted me to perform Till I Hear You Sing, so that's there too.
What did you think of Love Never Dies?
I saw the last preview of the first incarnation and then I saw it again just before it closed. I'm good friends with Ramin and I know they had a really hard time. The original Phantom was postponed for six months before opening, so perhaps they jumped the gun with Love Never Dies. But I thought the music was sensational with brilliant performances. I've not seen the Australian version yet. But I do understand why it didn't appeal to audiences.
You mentioned Ramin - he's got an album out at the moment too. Is there a rivalry between you two?
No. Not really. But I'm happy to ramp it up for publicity purposes! His album was originally due out in February, so mine was planned for later, and then his was delayed so mine was delayed too, but eventually we just had to go, so they're out a week apart. I saw Ramin last week - he came to see the Phantom tour.
And how is the tour?
I was there at the inception of the tour idea. I did the Les Mis tour, and I think it's brave of Cameron Mackintosh to reinvent something that doesn't need changing and has a perfectly healthy life of its own. But Phantom and Les Mis deserve audiences all over the country. The tour set folds away easily but it's actually bigger - it takes 24 articulated lorries to move it, the kind of number you'd usually get for a rock concert. The tour is quite a pleasure. I'm looking forward to leaving so I can see it!
Obviously you, Katie [Katie Hall, playing Christine] and Simon [Simon Bailey, playing Raoul] are reprising your West End roles. Does that make 'reinvention' harder?
Cameron Mackintosh really wanted people who knew the story to take it on. He wanted us, people who'd been in the show, to look at where it should go; to go back to the beginning, take the script and see what they're trying to say. It's darker, it's about the Phantom's world, not the glitz and glamour above.
Some people have said they think this version of Phantom is staged in the light of Love Never Dies...
Well, this is a more modern staging - if Phantom were written now, this is how it would be staged. The original Phantom is brilliant, and one of the best pieces of staging ever. The tour is just a more 21st century way of telling the story.
John Owen-Jones's album Unmasked is out now on Sian Records; visit www. www.JohnOwenJones.com