Interview with Darren Everest of The Overtones

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London Calling talked to Darren from The Overtones about their forthcoming Christmas show at the O2.

The success story of male harmony group The Overtones is as sweetly old fashioned as their vocal and sartorial styling. London Calling talked to Darren from the group about their forthcoming Christmas show and their seasonal album, Good Ol' Fashioned Christmas.

London Calling: Is being in the Overtones like having Christmas every day?

Darren Everest: We’re lucky we get on very well, we genuinely are. We’re five mates that get to wake up and do what we want to do. In that sense, yeah, it’s like a very nice Christmas Day every day.

LC: Were there any arguments about which Christmas songs should go on the album?

DE: No, not arguments. Me and Lachie were really championing ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ because I think we could hear where it was going. Some of the others were a bit like, “Erm... I’m not so sure but we’ll try it”. We always have an understanding where we always try something. If it’s not working we can just move on. But luckily everyone was feeling it.

LC: Does being a falsetto put more strain on your voice than the others in the band?

DE: I guess it’s like anything: you have to train to do it and work on it. I have done for many years now. So without sounding too arrogant, I guess I know what I’m doing. The voice is like any other muscle: you need to train it and warm it up and warm it down. I think if you do it the right way you should be able to sing for hours.

LC: Which other male falsettos do you admire? Frankie Valli, Barry Gibb, Prince, D’Angelo, Maxwell?

DE: They all inspired me. The obvious choice is Frankie Valli, he’s probably one of the most famous ones. And there are so many people I draw inspiration from. But in a lot of acts it’s the falsetto that makes that sound, whereas with us, although I play a big part - and all the boys, and of course Lachie’s bass - it’s about blending in. We all play our part and create the sound that The Overtones are known for.

LC: What’s the most ‘out there’ music in your personal collection?

DE: I’m into a lot of R&B and hip hop so probably some of the hip hop stuff. I like Drake, J. Cole and Chris Brown, quite a lot of vocal stuff. As well as my Motown, I love my Boys II Men and vocal groups, even Backstreet Boys and N*Sync: their harmonies were on point, they were amazing. I guess I’ve got some more heavy-hitting songs. Explicit lyrics!

LC: What’s the weirdest song that The Overtones have had a go at?

DE: We did [Cee-Lo Green’s] ‘Forget You’ and sometimes when we sing it at gigs people like us to sing, not ‘Forget You’ but... [the explicit alternative]. Depends on the audience. That can go down well; it’s not such an expected lyric from The Overtones. But we’re grown men and we like to have a laugh and have fun. We like to try modern songs.

LC: Have you had any strange requests as a band?

DE: You get asked to do autographs in strange places on people’s bodies. Sometimes your signature may not be as neat as you’d like and then you see them a week later and it’s now turned into a tattoo. Quite flattering, I guess. But not something you can get used to.

LC: The band was discovered while decorating a shop on Oxford Street. What are your memories of living in London at that time?

DE: Struggling, to be honest. Trying to achieve our dream. Some people are quite sceptical about that story but it’s the truth. We were working on getting a record deal, gigging everywhere we could, but the one thing holding us back was rehearsal time because everyone was trying to pay their rent, do bar work or promotional jobs or whatever. We had a bit of experience as decorators: I used to work for my dad, T used to work for a friend. So we said, it might sound a bit farfetched but let’s start a company. If we can get jobs in, we can all work together and while we’re together we’ll rehearse as well. And that’s literally what we were doing.

We were on the doorstep with our cups of tea, singing through some songs, getting ready for a gig and a lady overheard us. And that’s the truth. But that whole time was about believing in yourself and sticking to your guns and not giving up. I think a lot of people might be closer than they think when they give up. We had so many rejections as everyone does. I know we’re not special in our journey; everyone goes through hard times. But you literally have to keep going, keep going. And if it’s meant to be it will happen.

LC: It is like a movie, that story.

DE: One of these days it will be a movie!

LC: You must have played a few different venues in London. Which has been your favourite?

DE: We’ve been lucky enough to play the Palladium twice now. As a London boy that’s very special. Obviously it’s steeped in history and so many legends have trodden the boards on that stage. It would have to be somewhere very special to beat that. So that’s my number one.

LC: What can people expect from your Christmas show?

DE: People can expect a Christmas party. You’re going to come to our show; we’re going to make it feel like we’re performing just for you. You’re going to forget about any hassles or stresses or worries going on in your life and you’re just going to have a great night.

The Overtones play Indigo at The O2 on Sunday 20th December. Their Christmas album is out Friday, available to order now. For details, see website.