Barlow-approved The Overtones head to G LiveBy Rebecca Younger
November 22, 2012
IT has been two years since The Overtones were overheard by a talent scout while working as decorators in a shop near Oxford Street, landing them a recording deal with Warner Music Entertainment.
Released that same year, the vocal harmony group’s debut album, Good Ol’ Fashioned Love, has gone on to exceed 500,000 sales after peaking at number four on the album chart – smashing the respectable but hardly ground-breaking 20,000 copies industry bods predicted.
2012 has already seen members Mark Franks, Mike Crawshaw, Darren Everest, Timmy Matley and Lachie Chapman handpicked by Gary Barlow to play to more than 250,000 people at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration – an experience Bristolian Mike describes as ‘unbelievable’.
“It’s not often you wake up the next day after a performance and have the real blues that it’s all over.
“I really felt like that after the diamond jubilee show,” he said.
Ironically, the group first met Barlow when they performed on Xtra-Factor following the final of last year’s X Factor – a show they were booted off at the bootcamp stage in 2009.
“We were in a sound check and [Gary] was standing there watching. He came up after and said, ‘you guys are amazing’,” Mike explained.
“Two weeks later he sent us an email saying he wanted us to be involved in the Jubilee concert he was planning, we could hardly say no.”
At the subsequent aftershow party at Buckingham Palace, the boys enjoyed mingling with a who’s who of famous faces, including Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Cheryl Cole and, of course, members of the royal family.
Mike recalled: “Prince William told us he really liked our performance and said his grandmother must have done so too because you can always tell she is enjoying it when she takes her earplugs out.”
Last month the lads released their second album, Higher, which explores new territory through a selection of their own material, blending a variety of contemporary pop influences into the uplifting, soulful sounds of the defining male vocal groups of the 1950s and 60s.
“We are not wanting to alienate the people who loved what we did on the first album, but we want to push the boundaries of what we do,” Mike explained. And it worked. Higher entered the Top Ten in the UK album charts on the week of its release.
Despite The Overtones’ seemingly effortless rise to fame, it has not been an easy ride. Mike, Mark, Darren and Timmy originally formed as a quartet with their interest in the ‘doo-wop’ genre of the 1950s, before Lachie joined the line-up.
Struggling to hold down full-time jobs and have time to rehearse, Darren had the idea of starting a painting and decorating company so they could all practice together while working.
“When people hear the story about how we were discovered, I think they thought we were just working together and happened to all be able to sing, but we’d been together for about seven years before that,” Mike said.
“I remember when we first signed, people were calling us the ‘singing painters’ and producers even asked us to perform in overalls for our first television appearance.”
Perhaps wisely, The Overtones chose not to go down the gimmick route and the singers’ smooth style has become something, along with their music, that they are renowned for.
The Overtones will be performing at G Live on Tuesday December 4. For ticket information, call the box office on 0844 7701 797.