Five piece harmony group The Overtones are back with their fourth studio album ‘Sweet Soul Music’ in which they pay tribute to Motown, soul and doo-wop legends and throw in a few of their own songs for good measure. We caught up with Darren Everest and Mike Crawshaw to find out how they choose the songs to cover, the renaissance of doo-wop music and how they’re preparing for their massive 27 date tour.
‘Sweet Soul Music’ is released on 2nd March – how did you approach this album?
We took an old school approach to way we recorded this album. We wanted it to have an authentic sound and capture the feel of the era from when the songs were born. We did this by recording together at the same time instead of going in the vocal booth one by one. It can take longer but is definitely worth it and we are thrilled with the end product.
In this album you pay tribute to such legends as The Drifters, The Temptations and Marvin Gaye, how do you go about deciding which artists and which tracks you want to cover?
This process starts with a big discussion between us and our producer Julian Hinton. We talk about which songs we feel we can add our touch to and that will suit us. These songs are so precious to everyone and we had to make sure we did them justice and didn’t just rush the process. We could have easily picked any soul tune for the era and wacked down some vocals but instead we really took our time and gave them the love and work they deserved from the vocals to the live instruments.
We have an end product that we are extremely proud of.
You have Sam Bailey on this album too – what was it like working with her?
Sam was an absolute pleasure to work with. She’s so chilled was a proper laugh. We were worried when she was in the booth going for it as she was heavily pregnant but luckily she was fine! The girl can sing!
Mixed in with ‘Sweet Soul Music’ are new songs, how do you go about writing those?
We love writing our originals and the challenge that comes with it. We have to make sure they fit on the album and can sit alongside classics like a ‘Grapevine‘ and ‘Let’s Stay Together‘.
We work with a producer /writer and come up with a backing track and then work on the melodies. It’s a real collaborative process and one which we love.
We can’t wait for the fans to hear the three originals on this album.
With Mark Ronson and Meghan Trainor both releasing soul/doo-wop style music and both being very successful with it mean we are seeing something of a doo-wop renaissance in 2015?
Artists paying homage to or covering vintage styles isn’t a new thing. During the decades following the height of the Doo-Wop genre there have been many artists who have adapted their sound to incorporate this and other vintage styles, from Billy Joel to Amy Winehouse. The fact that we have sold nearly a million records based on Doo-Wop, Motown and Soul only proves there is still a strong desire for these kinds of music. Our older listeners reminisce on old times and our younger fans discover a love for it. So yes, I do think there is a renaissance of these vintage styles and artists like Mark Ronson and Meghan Trainor are a huge positive on these genres now being introduced to an audience that would otherwise never have experienced it. I do however think this resurgence has been happening for a number of years now with a large number of artists responsible.
You’re undertaking a massive 27 date tour across the summer, how do you prepare for something like that?
We get ourselves as prepared as possible. Whether its rehearsing or getting as fit as we can. Our main concern is to give our fans the absolute best show. We continuously think about what they want to see and hear. This work begins during the recording of the album when we frequently ask ourselves how will it look and how can we stage it? It’s a long process but it’s one that pays off.
Playing 27 dates in around 40 days is going to take its toll on your voice, how do you look after that?
Our singing coach Jo Thompson is great. We have intensive sessions leading up to tour giving us the best chance possible to preserve our voices during the run. It can still be difficult and very tiring so we try to look after ourselves with rest, good food, fruit, veg and lots of water. Our catering crew is amazing.
Which songs are you enjoying performing from the new album?
There are so many. The thing is there are no ‘also rans’ on this album. We love every single song so it’s difficult for me to say. My favourite is probably ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine‘. I love the version we’ve done and I really feel we’ve adapted it perfectly for a group to sing. There’s this section towards the end of the song where we build on the vocal harmony to give it an energy that gives me an incredible buzz. That shiver and excitement is the best feeling.
What is the key to longevity of the music soul/ pop/ doo-wop music?
I think these vintage styles will never permanently go out of fashion. They might shrink away for a while but they’ll always come back. They’re still relevant, connecting with the listener. Though these style can and have covered any and all subjects there’s an innocents to them. A cleanliness, a purity and simplicity that can sometimes be lost in modern music. The honesty of music created by acts that had no interest in pursuing fame but to simply create wonderful music. We try to emulate this in what we do and how we do it. We don’t try to be cool or something we’re not. We just do what we love and hope our audiences love it as much. I think this kind of ‘heart on sleeve’ music is craved for today.
Published: 11th February 2015
Author: Alexander Bradley
Source: Gigs & Festivals
Copyright: Warner Music