As the The Overtones pile into the plush Soho Square Studios, London, I’m immediately struck at how brotherly they all are together. These guys are the real deal. Head to foot in their trademark dickie-bow look and buffed shoes, I’m immediately a fan, without even speaking to them and it’s about to get even friendlier as TheGayUK chats to The Overtones for their gayest* interview ever!
The Overtones are a bit of a phenomenon in the pop world, most Boybands – sorry in the case of The Overtones – Manbands – have at least one gay member, even Boy George recently decried that at least one member in a particularly popular boyband had to be bisexual or gay. The Overtones have 3!
Timmy, who is one of the groups leading men and with an incredibly sexy Irish lilt to his voice, adds: ‘We are definitely representing!’
‘Yep we’re smashing it as far as that goes!’ chimes in cheeky-chappie, Essex lad Darren, with a sparkle in his eye.
They’ve recently moved labels to Parlophone, in the big EMI sell off to Warners and Universal in 2013, and Timmy is clearly excited by this!
Timmy: Well basically Kylie Minogue is on the same label, I’m happy! We’re going to be getting tickets for concerts – I’m thrilled.
Darren: We’re on the same label as Kylie and Cher and Tinie Tempah if we’re feeling a little bit R&B…
So it appears that the lads aren’t just interested in doo-wop and barbershop, they’re well versed in the world of Gaga et al. When the conversation turns to costumes and that infamous meat dress…
Darren: She’s so well known now, she’s just trying to take things to the next level, I mean she’s doing a gig in space soon.
Timmy: but where else do you go after wearing a dress made of meat or taking all your clothes off, where do you go after that? You can’t cover up and be a nun that’s boring.
Mark: Didn’t she strip off in G-A-Y recently? I saw a picture of her and Jeremy Joseph looked horrified.
Timmy: Maybe she didn’t wax?
Mark: No she didn’t wax because she said she was singing a song called Venus and you’re meant to let it all grow free.
So do the boys like Lady Gaga’s artistic progression and her new album? Timmy’s not so sure…
Timmy: I’m just putting it out there now, in her vocal she’s sounding a bit too theatrical and I know that we’ll get a lot of hate for this, I’m not sure I can connect with it, I could connect with her earlier songs…
Mark: Yes, but you could connect with it the other night when we went to the G-A-Y bar…
Timmy: I don’t remember.
Mark: Yeah you do – We’ve got it on Vine!
Timmy: I still don’t remember.
Mark pulls out his phone and sure enough the boys are dancing a perfectly routined, impromptu set for Gaga’s Applause in the middle of Soho’s G-A-Y bar, complete with amused onlookers in the background.
I’m interested, do the boys choreograph and style themselves, or is there a team of heavy duty creatives, marketeers, consultants, stylists and life gurus behind them?
Darren: We’re very hands on with everything, so we’re very lucky boys.
The boys, I’m told, were basically handed a cheque for the first album and told pretty much to get on with it. Mark speaks up, with a thoughtful considered tone…
Mark: It’s good because in the first album we kinda did it all ourselves but then we got a choreographer on board, and they just kind of carried on where we left off, so it’s still got that Overtones feel.
Timmy: Which I kinda think we’ve got a Overtones/Diversity vibe – maybe we’ve got like a whole other career going on.
Darren: We also have help from the lovely Dom and Paul Robert.
But despite the label changes, and nights out in Soho it’s business as usual as ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’, their 3rd album in 3 years becomes their 3rd top 10, and they’ve collaborated with some incredible writers for this album including Karen Poole, who’s written for Kylie and Dannii Minogue, Olly Murs, Will Young and Jedward no less! They returned to work with their debut album’s producer Nick Southwood as well as Graham Archer and Julian Hinton.
Timmy: It’s a smaller team (than their sophomore album), but it feels like there’s a good musical cement in with our musical bricks.
Mark: Because we’re an album act, it feels like you need that cohesion with our album. With so many other acts it’s about the single.
The Overtones, having sold well over a half a million records in the UK alone, have survived the downfall of ‘Concept’ albums. They were signed at a time when Soldiers, Nurses, Fishermen, Priests and alike were being offered contracts left right and centre. Seemingly The Overtones have survived where others have failed. They’ve shrugged off their initial press splash story; of being painters and decorators, ‘discovered’ by a passing record exec. They’ve become a bit of an ‘album act’. Which is not to be sniffed at. Where most artists are living and breathing on the success of a 99p single, these boys are very conscious of how important the notion of a collection of songs, bundled together by an artist is.
‘Saturday Night At The Movies’ is predominantly an album of cover songs from the movies.
Lachie: So, we were sitting in the big Warner’s boardroom talking about the 3rd album, and there were songs on a list, and as Mark said we are an album act, and so there can be a theme running throughout the album, which I think works really strongly for us – and at the end of the day, they are just banging songs from really famous films and a couple that aren’t – which we just shoehorned in.
Mark: We don’t spend all our lives in suits and dickie bows! You want to see us first thing in the morning.
Timmy: I have my little rucksack in the studio, we’re going back to record, and in there is my tracksuit bottoms and my Nike trainers, but we’re respectful to the music we make. It requires us to dress up smart and we love that – putting on a show. There’s a moment that’s happening for men in fashion and we celebrate that and indirectly we’re part of that – it’s lovely.
Darren: We love it! On a Friday night – go down Old Compton Street or any of these trendy streets in London and you’ll see all the gents so slick now!
So with their busy schedule I ask if the boys are dating and mating?
Darren: Currently the two straights are taken…Mark: And the gays are single…
Would they be up for a bit of dating?
Timmy: Yes please…Mark: We are busy boys, but we do get out to Soho – as Vine obviously shows, but we’re not online, we’re not part of that and it feels like gay guys aren’t open enough to chat maybe? What I’m saying is that I feel like gay guys are losing the art of conversation. In a polite way. I like to talk! A chat over tea or a coffee!
Timmy: I’m not dissing it, we’re on our phones anyway, but I do think it makes ourselves go into ourselves a little bit.
Darren: You need to do it the old fashion way. If you see someone you like, you need to ask them out for a drink!
So does the gay thing come up much in their promotion and the way in which the band is marketed by their label?
Lachie: If we were a group of 16-year-olds and we were trying to sell an image to a bunch of 14-16 year-old girls, then that might be an issue for the marketing department, but every year we do a big tour and we stand on stage and we put our heart and soul into everything we do. You could wring-out the jackets. But we’re working really hard and you look out and there’s a few thousand people in the aisles having a brilliant night, with great songs that we try and do as best we can – so 3 gays who gives a sh*t?
Darren: I hope it encourages artist or kids who want to be in the industry to be themselves and not have to put up a front and lie, because, stereotypically in the industry you have to be straight, but I think we’re proving that’s not the case.
Timmy: I remember doing that interview (their first interview with Attitude) and I remember thinking, “oh here we go, are we going to be talking about this all the time? Are we just going to talk about gay gay gay?” But it made me feel comfortable, because we are in 2013 and it’s really not a big deal.
Lachie: We recently did an interview, and about ¾’s of it was about dry humping our tour manager and sound engineer in the foyer of a hotel at 4:30 in the morning and guess what… It was the straights that we’re doing the Dry Humping! Dry humping at sunrise, on a marble floor. Whoops! You’ve got to have a giggle…
We’re getting to the end of the interview and the conversation turns to fans and I have so many questions to ask, after Toners (The Overtones’s fan-handle on Twitter) tweeted their questions to us.Lachie: Which ones tweeted?
Their eyes light up as I mention a few of the names. Lachie even starts to list the most involved fans…
Timmy: There was one that wanted to suck Lachie’s toe at one point!
Lachie: That was beautiful!
Timmy: Ah that was beautiful! He wanted to suck your toes.
One particular fan who had been particularly forward with Lachie over the internet, finally met his object of desire, randomly in Dublin and was a little bit star struck and nervously retreated: ‘You were like “I WANNA SUCK YOUR TOES” online!’ remembers Lachie, ‘Well, here’s my hand first!’
Who would you like to write with dead or alive?
Mark: Burt Bacharach.
Darren: Frank Sinatra.
Lachie: Gina G.
What about the Growl in Pretty Woman – natural born talent or something Lachie’s been working on for a while? Lachie who is originally from Manly in Australia, sings bass in the group and speaks with an ease and inviting confidence…
Lachie: Humm… I’ve always had that, it’s fortunate I guess.
Darren: When we did Pretty Woman on This Morning the other day, we got a few tweets. I think a few ladies enjoyed that!
**Lachie Growls live in the studio**
Timmy: Ah Lachie, I think it’s just lovely….
Who’d win in a Boy/Man band off?
The Overtones Vs. Union J?
Timmy: They’re not a man band!!!
Darren: Come on, put us up against someone like Blake or someone our own age!
Ok, The Overtones against The Wanted?
Lachie: We charted above The Wanted….
Darren: They are successful internationally, and we do inspire to do that, we’re not slagging them off, but to enter the charts against someone like that is amazing for us. It’s an achievement for us!
Lachie: There was a point when we were looking at the Amazon chart and we were at Number 3 and that was very exciting, but then at number 2 was the Disney Princess Compilation, but then we went to number 1.
Timmy: (tongue in cheek) Yeah F**k you Disney Princesses!
If you could be another Overtone for the day which one would you be?
Darren: Mike! I’d love to have that hair for a day…
Darren: I’d have him do it all up, and then I’ll turn into him when it’s all done. It’s a work of art.
Timmy: I’d like to be Lachie for a day, because I sing all the high bits and would really like to know, to experience, what it would be like to hit those low notes.
Darren: You’d sh*t yourself every time you spoke!
Mark: I’ll be Darren for the day. Darren’s an avid gym goer, he’d be at the gym 24/7 if he could. I could pop down to Vauxhall, pop me top off – and dance around.
Lachie: I’d be Darren and just take all my clothes off. ∎
*ah yes the gayest interview claim… Well on the day I met The Overtones, Mike had put his back out and couldn’t make it to the studio – meaning out of the 4 in the room 3 were gay, So technically it’s actually true…
The Overtones are on tour UK wide in Feb & March 2014, and Saturday Night At The Movies is out now on Parlophone
Visit www.theovertones.tv for tour dates
This interview is taken from our Dec/Jan Issue – out now.
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.