The Overtones have been breaking hearts and topping charts since 2010, when their debut album Good Ol’ Fashion Love was released. The album has sold more than 500,000 copies to date, and its warm, nostalgic sound has earned them the devotion of a loyal fan base. Their second record, Higher, was released two years later and peaked at #6 on the UK charts, followed by Saturday Night At The Movies merely a year later, garnering them further critical and commercial success.
The Overtones are currently celebrating the release of their fourth, and arguably finest record, Sweet Soul Music. Having toured with the likes of Peter Andre in the past, the band are headlining shows around the UK this year. We spoke to Mike Crawshaw from the band about his successes; the song he most wants to cover; and what to expect from the shows this year.
Joseph Earp: How are you and where in the world does our interview find you today?
Mike Crashaw: I’m good thanks. I’m sat having my hair cut so multi tasking today.
MC: Yes we’re in full swing getting ready for the release. Rehearsing and getting as slick as we can for the upcoming performances on TV and radio. I’m so proud of this album. It was a real labour of love for us. We feel like we’ve got an album our fans and new followers will love with these timeless Soul classics.
JE: Do you have any plans in terms of celebrating the release of Sweet Soul Music?
MC: We normally try to keep it as low key as possible. We go out for a few beers with the producers and technical guys who help make the album as well as our closest friends and label mates. Always gets a little messy! Can’t wait.
JE: You have recorded a lot of classic Motown hits for Sweet Soul Music. Talk us through the deciding process for this album. How did you decide on what tracks would be on the album and were there any that didn’t make the cut?
MC: To be honest we actually got a good eight songs into this album before we realised as a group that it just wasn’t working. We felt our fans deserved better and of course we deserved better from ourselves. We went back to the drawing board and decided on Soul. Then it all happened very easily. There are so many incredible songs from this genre. The challenge was to do them justice. It’s not just about doing carbon copies. They have to be freshened up. Songs like Heard It Through The Grapevine and Get Ready really pushed us to push our abilities. We recorded this album in an old school way. All around the mic singing together at the same time. That doesn’t happen much nowadays.
JE: Is there a particular favourite song for the group on the record?
MC: We loved recording the entire album but one of my highlights was Grapevine. The original had limited backing vocals so it was important for us to build on what was already there. We were able to really sink our teeth into it. Particularly towards the end of the track. We give it some! Love it!
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JE: Covering such classics comes must come with a lot or pressure. Do you ever feel nervous when covering a song as popular as Under the Boardwalk or Heard It Through the Grapevine as you do on your new album?
MC: Of course it’s nerve racking. It would be pointless to cover tracks like these unless we honestly felt like we could give it a fresh spin. One of the difficult things is to still respect the original feel of the song. It’s not about ripping an old song apart and adding riffs and bvs. It’s about being honest with it and respecting it.
JE: The album features 3 brand new songs – Something Good, Giving Me Soul and Moving On. Can you tell us briefly about these new tracks and how they fit in with the rest of the record?
MC: Writing songs for our albums is really important to us. Again it isn’t simply about getting a song in there. It’s about doing ourselves justice and making them fit nicely in with these songs that are otherwise legendary. We work hard to make them relevant to what the rest of the album is. It’s not easy but we’re happy with the three we have.
JE: Do you feel like there has been a recent resurgence in the popularity of nostalgic tunes?
MC: Absolutely. The rise of artists like Mark Ronson and Meghan Trainor have really help with this. These vintage style tracks have, of course, been around for a while now with Amy Winehouse and Adele. It’s wonderful to be a part of it.
JE: You were first discovered by a talent scout while singing The Longest Time. Has that reinforced your emotional connection to that song?
MC: Definitely! It will always be important to me and we still sing it on tour and gigs. It brings back special memories whenever I hear it. Good times!
JE: Is there a song that you really want to cover that you have not yet gotten around to?
MC: Midnight Train to Georgia. It’s hard because it really is a woman’s song but it’s so so good. I’ve loved it since I was a little boy. I want to be the train horn vocalist!
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JE: In terms of people you know personally or people you have worked with over the years, who would you say has had the biggest effect on your musical career?
MC: My career in music has been a journey with a crazy amount of people who have contributed importantly in some way from my parents and my fiancé to management and the label. The other four boys in the group have of course been the guys who have not only made it possible but made it a good laugh. The thing is when you see us on stage or on TV it’s the culmination of a team of people as well as the five of us.
JE: What would you say has been the biggest accomplishment of your career so far?
MC: Nowadays longevity is maybe one of the biggest hurdles and act like us can come up against. So I would say the fact that we’re about to release our fourth album. It’s huge for us. We know that if we don’t sell then our career is by no means safe. We keep selling well and that’s down to our fans and people who enjoy the music we do. It’s a thrill to still be hear and doing what we love to do five years on.
JE: You have an upcoming tour across the UK and Ireland: what should fans expect from the shows?
MC: We work hard to bring our fans better tours every time we hit the road. After so long we’ve learned exactly what works and what doesn’t. We know they love to party, let their hair down and leave their daily troubles at the door. We love the challenge of bringing them something a little different each time we tour. I promise you’ll all love it.
JE: What’s the most enjoyable part of going on tour for the band?
MC: There’s obviously the joy of performing to our fans, friends and family but beyond that I love the laughs that we have with our band and crew. It’s like one big family and I consider all of them my mates. We take the mickey out of each other and everyone gives as good as they get. For example Mark our sound engineers shaves his chest. Sorry Mark.
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JE: Lastly, tell me something you’ve never told an interviewer before.
MC: I just got engaged!! You’re the first interviewer I’ve told. None of the fans know yet!
JE: Thank you and best of luck with the release of the new record.
MC: Thank you!
The Overtones’ brand new album Sweet Soul Music is out now. UK tour dates can be found HERE.