The Overtones are a five-part vocal harmony group that serves to remind us of the one thing in music nobody can ever really tire of: the power of the voice.
The Overtones are five young men from England, Ireland and Australia. All of them sing impeccably - they could sing the phonebook and give it melody - and, as luck would have it, they photograph well too. Collectively, they are as much a throwback to the timeless appeal of doo-wop and Motown as they are to modern day R&B and pop. Check out the ample evidence on YouTube: there can be few outfits about today who can equip themselves in both The Chords' 1954 classic 'Sh-Boom' and Lady Gaga's 'Just Dance', but this lot can nail both with perfect élan, and flair to spare.
Though fans of modern-day rock and pop, their enduring love of the songs their parents grew up on was overriding, and they believed it would prove similarly irresistible to mainstream audiences today. In many ways, they were ahead of their time in their thinking, because over the next few years, artists like Michael Buble and theatre productions such as Jersey Boys, would prove them right - vintage sounds are timeless.
Though it is still just early days for the band, they are anything but an overnight success. Theirs is a tale of genuine inspiration - of mettle tested, tenacity exerted, and of the benefits that ultimately come from possessing one hell of a stubborn streak.
Initially The Overtones were a four-piece, consisting of Mark Franks, Mike Crawshaw, Darren Everest and Timmy Matley, who all sing impeccably and who were drawn into one another's orbit out of a mutual respect for truly great male voices such as The Temptations, The Drifters and Boyz II Men. They were used to life in the limelight; Mark from Manchester was a professionally trained dancer who spent time touring with some of the biggest names in British pop; Bristolian Mike travelled the world whilst working as a successful model; Darren spent the bulk of his teenage years on the stage and the pitch (he is very nifty with a football) and Irish born Timmy appeared in 'Fame' in the West End.
The group began gigging in earnest. "And we played everywhere, at every possible event you could imagine," says Darren. "Social events, weddings, pubs, you name it." And they always, he adds, went down well, whatever the audience: "Even in those pubs where fights started up amongst the alcoholics..."
Though they didn't realise it at the time, the four-piece was searching for a missing link. They found it by chance three years later when Timmy and Lachlan 'Lachie' Chapman met while handing out leaflets in a department store, a temporary job that likely didn't bring much personal fulfilment. "He had the most amazing deep voice," Timmy says now, "and I realised that if he could sing anywhere near as well as he could speak - then, well, we were onto something, we'd have found the missing link."
Lachie, a Sydney born actor who has trod the boards with a number of London and Sydney's leading theatre companies, could indeed sing. He is in possession of a voice that would have brought Barry White out in goosebumps - and so The Overtones, a five piece, was born. For a while, things continued much as they had before.
The band played endlessly and forever sent out demo tapes. To sustain themselves each held down a day job that invariably stole time they would much rather have spent rehearsing. Then Darren came up with a rather winning solution. He and Mike had already previously dabbled in painting and decorating work from time to time, and so they decided to set up a company for all of them. This way they could earn money and rehearse as much as they wanted. One of their first jobs was the redecorating of an office in Oxford Street. It was long, exhausting work and during one of their tea breaks they gathered together on a side street and began to rehearse for that evening's gig.
It perhaps goes without saying that five men who could sing as well as they did and look as good - even in overalls - were never going to go unnoticed and before long an impressed passerby stopped, gawped, and then pressed upon them her card. "She was from a record label" Lachie says now, beaming at the recollection. "She seemed impressed."
She was. Three days later, they were in the boardroom at Warners, proving that they could sing pretty much anything, rescuing old forgotten classics and injecting them with vim and swagger and an immense amount of likeability. By the time they left, they were clutching a five-album recording contract. The President of Warner Music Entertainment, later called them "The find of the year".