After years of grinding out a living while chasing their dreams of becoming successful singers, The Overtones
’ perseverance was richly rewarded when they landed a recording deal with Warner Music Entertainment in the summer of 2010. Released that same year, their debut album Good Ol’ Fashioned Love
was forecast to sell a respectable but hardly ground-breaking 20,000 copies. Almost two years later, the album has now exceeded 500,000 sales after peaking at #4 on the album chart. 2012 has already seen them play to over 250,000 people at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration, and they will also play at an Olympics show in Hyde Park. Now, with the release of their second album Higher
approaching, is the perfect moment to be an Overtone.
“The bar keeps being raised and we’re going with it,” says Lachie Chapman, with his immediately recognisable Australian accent only adding to his sense of enthusiasm. “To perform at the Jubilee and the Olympics is amazing, as is having a new album coming out that really evolves our sound. It’s a year that has its foot firmly on the accelerator for us.”
Regardless of whatever great adventure is next on the agenda for The Overtones – completed by founding members Mike Crawshaw, Darren Everest, Mark Franks and Timmy Matley – their collective excitement is focused heavily on the release of Higher
. Featuring a selection of their own self-written material, the album finds the boys pushing the boundaries of their music with a collection that blends a variety of contemporary pop influences into the uplifting, soulful sounds of the defining male vocal groups of the 50s and 60s. It captures the essence of everything people loved about The Overtones the first time around, but it also finds the group brimming with confidence as they explore new territory.
“We knew that after the success of the first album that we’d need to raise our game again,” says Everest. “We wanted to stay true to the roots of what we do, but at the same time take a huge step forwards.”
That involved enlisting some of music’s most respected producers. Renowned for his ability to capture masterly vocal performances from some of the world’s most successful artists, Walter Afanasieff (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Boyz II Men) was an obvious choice of collaborator for a group which is resolutely proud of their determination and work ethic in ensuring that their music achieves its full potential. As a veteran of the big band circuit, Trevor Horn could easily identify with The Overtones’ roots, but his famously accomplished production techniques also allowed the music to evolve in a direction in which the sound forged ahead rather than wallowed in the past. Pop curators Future Cut (Olly Murs, Lily Allen) also contributed to the sessions by utilising their renowned ability to craft commercially successful songs built for repeated plays which brim with The Overtones’ cheeky, effervescent personalities.
“We were so happy that people like Walter, Trevor and Future Cut wanted to work with us, because they’ve got the ability to help us make our music as strong as it can possibly be,” explains Crawshaw. “Throughout the album, you can really tell that the level has been raised.”
“They’re top producers at the top of their game, and it was great to collaborate with them as it’s important for us to be able to contribute our ideas about production,” adds Franks. “We feel very fortunate to have been able to work with some extraordinary and experienced people.”
The Overtones’ own songwriting credits, which include collaborations with Steve Booker (Duffy) and fast rising writing team Electric (Cheryl Cole), are central to the success of ‘Higher’. The album’s title track is a prime example. “lt’s uplifting, gritty and almost like a classic dance track. I love that we’re bending the rules a little bit regarding what vocal harmony groups can do,” enthuses Matley, who humbly refers to himself as the group’s “token Irishman” when his band mates praise his brilliance.
Other highlights include Love Song
(Chapman: “It’s a modern version of an old teen heartthrob anthem that’s designed to be danced to today”), Call Me Up
(Matley: “It’s like a mod version of a song from Footloose”) and When You Say My Name
, on which they worked with Steve Robson (Take That, James Morrison) and Wayne Hector (JLS, The Wanted). The first single to be taken from the album will be Loving The Sound
, which was written with Phil Thornally (Pixie Lott) and Jon Green. “It’s got an upbeat soul vibe, but it’s about picking yourself up and moving on,” says Everest.
The album also includes fresh interpretations of established classics, such as Fairground Attraction’s 1988 chart-topper Perfect
and Chapman’s lead vocal on a soulful rendition of Unforgettable
, both of which highlight The Overtones’ strength as a modern vocal group built on the tradition of powerful performances and finely crafted harmonisation.
is a song that could well soundtrack their experiences over the past two years. From the magical (Franks and Everest in particular found their show at the London Palladium to be a highly emotional experience) to the surreal (performing live on Finnish television to accompany a routine by Olympic figure skater Kiiri Korpi), the group have enjoyed almost every moment. “I think people can see that we enjoy what we do and that really helps their enjoyment of the music too,” states Crawshaw. “We worked really hard for this, and now we consider ourselves really lucky to wake up in the morning and be able to do what we love to do.”
If asked to pick the one defining moment of The Overtones to date, it’s fair to assume that all five members would choose the Diamond Jubilee celebration which they performed at after a personal invitation from the legendary Gary Barlow. “Looking down the Mall at so many people was just amazing,” recalls Franks with an energy that overawes his normally dry Mancunian tone. “At one point I shouted, ‘Can you hear me at the back?’ and 250,000 flags went up in the air.” At the subsequent after show party at Buckingham Palace, the boys enjoyed mingling with a veritable who’s who of famous faces, including Prince William, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Cheryl Cole.
The Overtones will follow the release of Higher
by embarking upon a major twenty-eight date tour of the UK and Ireland. They’re evidently awestruck by the loyalty of their fans who have booked tickets months in advance before a single note of Higher
has been released for public consumption, and are promising a joyous, celebratory atmosphere. As Matley concludes, “It’s great that people are excited to see us and are taking the time to invest in our entire album as it means that they believe in the entire piece of work. This is a labour of love and I love that people are willing to go on that journey with us.”
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