Fri 26 Jul 2019

Interview with… The Overtones


Multi-platinum-selling vocal harmony group The Overtones are delighted to announce that Welsh singer & songwriter Jay James has joined the band. The announcement heralds the start of an exciting new era for the group which has had 5 top 10 albums, 9 sold out UK tours and will now embark on a UK tour this December. Check out what the band have to say on the matter…

Exciting times in The Overtones camp. You have a new tour announced, a new track out plus a new member Jay James, who has joined the band following the departure of Lockie Chapman.

Darren Everest: We’ve known Jay for 10 years now. We first met on a charity record we were both on for The Samaritans and then over the years we’d meet at charity football matches, events and parties and were lucky enough to have Jay open up for us at a few shows. He always went down an absolute storm. When we were discussing a new member he was the only name that came to our minds. Our audiences and fans love him, he’s got charisma, and he looks great in a suit – which you need. I phoned him said ‘Jay, how you doing? Do you fancy being an Overtone?’. I better not repeat what the exact words were back but it was in essence: ‘Yes, I’d love to’. The last couple of months we’ve been grafting away, training Jay up and refreshing it all for us as well.

Were you shocked to get the phone call, Jay?

Jay James: Yeah completely. I’ve supported the boys on a number of occasions and I remember doing my set and going out to watch them. Within 45 seconds – that’s no exaggeration – the audience would be on their feet dancing and singing. You’d be happy to see that at the end of the show. For that to happen right at the start shows how special it is. The Overtones aren’t just about the members in it – and I mean that with the greatest respect., I’m thankful to be one – it’s what they bring….incredible music, incredible nights and memories for people who are looking to maybe escape their own lives for an hour or two. The response over the last few days has been so overwhelming because you realise The Overtones is an extended family and how special that is and how much it means to people. To be part of that is unreal.

Mark Franks: It was really hard keeping the news about Jay a secret because we’ve been so excited. The response has been awesome. Everyone’s saying: ‘What a perfect fit’. With our new song that we’ve released – ‘September’ – everyone now gets to hear how we sound as a new four-piece as well, which has been great.

The fans must have been excited to know it wasn’t the end of the band. Did you consider carrying on as a three-piece?

Mike Crawshaw: We always felt like The Overtones needs to be a four-piece. After the tragic loss of Timmy (Matley) we carried on, released an album and toured. Lockie decided he wanted to go down a different avenue and focus on a solo career – which is fine and we wish him all the best. We decided we wanted to have another member in the band for the dynamics, the harmonies, and the routines. We never saw The Overtones as a three-piece. Jay fits in so perfectly in every way, it feels like he’s always been in the band.

Jay: I’d be lying to say I hadn’t looked at the boys and wondered what it would be like to be part of that because what they have got is really cool. I was in the Navy for 10 years and, although I’ve been a solo artist for a long time, becoming part of a group again has been really special. In the last couple of months we’ve gone from a friendship to feeling like I’ve got three brothers.

Mark: I’ve got to say the boy’s got moves as well. He’s got The Overtones’ point down to a tee

Darren: He’d never danced and sang at the same time before – it’s multi-tasking.

Jay: My wife tells me I’m terrible at multi-tasking so I have to get good quick. It’s great, the music is all about feeling good, so I’m really enjoying it.

New single ‘September’ is out now. What’s next? Another single then album before the tour?

Mark: ‘September’ is not so much a single as a buzz track in terms of: ’This is our new sound’. We were desperate for people to hear us as a new four-piece with Jay. I can’t believe we’ve not done ‘September’ before, as it’s such a feel-good song for the summer. It’s the start of things to come. We’ll be back in the studio soon recording new material with the view to releasing a new album in the future. We don’t want to give too much away.

Mike: What’s important to us is we’ve got to a great level where we are able to release music and tour but now it’s time to push on and grow. It’s time to go to countries that we’ve never been to. That’s what we’re looking forward to – setting ourselves the challenge of pushing on now. Everything’s going to step up a notch, which is exciting.

Are you having one-on-one choreography?

Jay: The boys don’t actually know but I did do that after I had the phone calls with Darren. I spoke to a friend and did a couple of things to loosen me up a bit. It’s like Overtones boot camp when I show up at rehearsals.

Mike: We’re going to be harder on you now we know that you trained before.

Mark: Not speaking for you but I feel because of your military past you’ve got a really good mind-set of discipline of: ‘I’m going to learn this choreography’. The way you’ve picked it up has been amazing. Retaining all that information I’m very proud of you.

Jay: It’s easy to watch what the boys do on stage and think it’s easy but it’s tricky. I’m looking forward to the moment where it feels instinctive.

Are you still at the moment when you’re singing and the dance moves are running through your head?

Jay: Exactly. There’s a couple, like the new song ‘September’, which I feel are there but we’re a week away from the first show and there’s still some hard graft to do. I go home and my five-year-old daughter is the biggest Overtones fan. She’s doing all the dance moves. The boys came down to Western-Super-Mare to have a BBQ with my family. I’d been away for three odd weeks. My daughter was in absolute awe, doing all the dance moves because she’s been watching Daddy. She’s good.

Darren: I don’t want to scare you but I still have moments 10 years in where I’m on stage thinking: ‘What’s the next move’ so that might stay for a while. I’m looking forward to getting on stage for our first show and looking to the left or right and being like: ‘Yeah boys, come on’.

Mark: It’s exciting because it feels like it did 10 years ago. We’re having all these first starts again – new music, new tour, new photos. Everything is all fresh for us.

It’s hard in this day and age to sustain a fan base like The Overtones have. Do you feel like you don’t get enough credit for your achievements?

Darren: We don’t take it for granted. We work hard and we want to grow. We are so thankful for the success that we have. We can’t wait to put on the best tour yet.

Mark: One of the stigmas that we’ve come up against is that we sing a lot of classic covers. For us that’s a positive because we get to put our own spin on those songs and make them Overtones tracks. It’s odd that there is a stigma as so many artists who are in the charts are singing songs that other people have written for them. We also do enjoy writing our own original material. Historically we’ve had people come up to us and say: ‘We love that cover you did of ‘Gambling Man’’. That’s a song that we wrote. So for us to be able to write these originals, which we will do as we move forward, we get to do the best of both worlds which is awesome. We’re very proud of our back catalogue.

Jay: A great song is a great song. When you listen to the albums that the boys have done you can go: ‘Oh my God, that’s an absolute banger’. It’s great getting to learn all these songs that you already know and can picture that great moment in your life where you heard it first.

Mike: Our fan base seems to be getting younger, which is great. You’ve got 10-year-old kids singing ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’ and telling you they love ‘Runaround Sue’. They’ve been introduced to these classics. A lot of children love our music because it’s feel-good, makes you happy and want to dance. That’s an amazing energy to spread.

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