Darren Everest (seen here second from the right) a member of The Overtones chats with Kevin Cooper about their new single Christmas Every Day, the death of Timmy Matley, supporting the diabetes charity and their forthcoming UK tour, The Good Times.

Darren Everest is a member of the UK based vocal harmony quartet The Overtones. They were discovered by a Warner Bros. Records talent scout whilst working as decorators in a shop near Oxford Street, singing during their tea break.

He comes from Essex and he is the falsetto voice of the group. He originally wanted to be a footballer and had played for Leyton Orient and Southend United. After falling ill with glandular fever, he was forced to stop playing and took up singing.

With original member Timmy Matley (who was replaced by Jay James after Matley passed away) the four shared an interest in the doo-wop genre of the 1950’s mixed with R&B and modern pop music.

Matley, Mike Cranshaw, Mark Franks and Everest met Lockie Chapman and formed a five piece group called The Overtones. Everest then had the idea of starting a painting and decorating company so that the five could practice whilst working. Whilst singing The Longest Time, they were discovered and were offered a five album deal with Warner Bros. Records.

They have appeared on numerous TV shows and have toured with the likes of Peter Andre and Cliff Richard as well as having their own headline tours. In 2016 Matley announced that he would not be joining the others on tour because he had been diagnosed with skin cancer. He died in 2018. A year later Chapman announced that he was leaving the group to pursue other commitments. In 2019 it was announced that Jay James would be joining the group.

Since 2010 they have released seven studio albums, their debut Good Ol’ Fashioned Love which went Platinum having sold more than 500,000 copies.

Whist busy rehearsing for their forthcoming tour, he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Good afternoon Darren, how are you?

I’m good Kevin thanks for asking, but more to the point how are you doing today?

I have to say that all is good at this moment in time and before we move on let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today; I know that you are busy with rehearsals.

Of course mate, it’s not a problem. Thank you for taking an interest in what The Overtones are currently up to.

And I have to ask, just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Life is actually treating me really well. As you know we are currently in rehearsals getting ready for the forthcoming tour which starts on Tuesday up there in Stockport. So, what can I say, these are busy times but exciting times.

Are the rehearsals going well?

(Laughter) I am going to say a confident yes, but hopefully by the end of today it should be a very, very confident yes. We are still ironing out a few bits and pieces, sorting out some choreography, making a few last-minute changes to the set list, and yes, we really can’t wait to get back out on the stage on Tuesday.

We must talk about the new single, Christmas Every Day.

(Laughter) yes, let’s do that.

Well, I have been playing it for a couple of days now and I absolutely love it.

Oh, thank you. That is so very nice to hear, thank you.

Are you and the rest of the boys all pleased with it?

We are all really, really happy with it. We actually shot a lovely video to go with the song at the weekend which will be out sometime next week, which has got our families in it. The kids are in it, the dogs are in it, and it really does have a Christmas Day vibe to it. I have to say that it is really nice. There is some really nice choreography in there too, and I have to be totally honest with you and say that we really did have a lot of fun making the video.

How did it feel last Sunday when Michael Ball gave the record its first play on air?

That’s right, the record had its very first play last Sunday on the Michael Ball Show which I have to say was really great. So, as you can imagine, we are in a good place, we are having fun, and we are all looking forward to Christmas. Most of all we are looking forward to performing that song on the twenty-seven dates leading up to Christmas.

I have to say that when I was listening to the song, I wrote that it was a real Christmas song and that whilst there is an element of fun there is absolutely nothing cheesy about it at all.

Thank you for saying that. We all think that it is a really good song, and more importantly a really strong song which just so happens to be a Christmas song. We really do enjoy performing the song and we have been performing it quite a lot today in rehearsals.

I personally feel that the song has got a feel-good factor to it. Would you agree?

Yes, I would, I absolutely would because that is what we are all about. We are all about trying to give the audience a couple of hours of escapism, making people feel good, sing, dance, smile, forget whatever it is that they have got going on in the outside world. We get so many messages that say “I just want to thank you boys for helping me through hard times and coming along to one of your shows gives me a couple of hours of escapism when I can shut off and have some fun.” So for us to be able to do that with music is really powerful and is a real blessing. It is amazing for us to get the Platinum albums, sell millions of units and travel the world but when you can make someone’s day that little bit better with your music then that is a real blessing, and we are so very lucky to be in a position to be able to do that.

I can remember back in the day when all of the top artists and bands would fight to see who would have the Christmas number one. It really was quite prestigious.

Yes, of course, that’s the dream.

I feel that needs to be bought back in some shape or form.

I totally agree with you on that; all of the big acts should be fighting it out for the Christmas number one slot. Nowadays there seem to be more gimmicky acts making Christmas records, but please don’t get me wrong, if they are raising money for different charities then that’s absolutely fine, but yes, I totally agree with you and I believe that more of the top acts should be fighting for that Christmas number one. It would certainly make the run up to Christmas more exciting (laughter).

Plus the fact that it would take away the attention from a certain Maria Carey and Michael Bublé (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) Mr and Mrs Christmas (laughter). We are not jealous, I promise.

For the past couple of years good friends of yours took over the mantle, Alfie Boe and Michael Ball.

Yes they did, they are good lads and I wish them all the success in the world. They are good fun, they do their own thing, they get back together, they tour, they release albums, and they go their own way again. They have got permanent work so they just keep on doing it. As you say, we know the boys well, we have performed with them both as a duo and individually, and it really was nice to see Michael at the weekend on his Radio 2 show, and yes, we all feel that we really can count them as friends now. You might see them pop-up on stage at one of the dates on the tour, singing a song or two with us, who knows.

I have just watched a very amusing video of Santa training you boys in order to get you fit for the tour. Whose idea was that?

(Laughter) I honestly cannot take any of the credit, or indeed the blame, for that video, that must all go to Mark (Franks). I will let you into a secret; that was the number one Santa, he is the real deal, and you are going to be seeing him all over the telly this Christmas. I can’t tell you what he is doing because I am not allowed to but he is currently starring in a TV advertisement for a really big company and that will be dropping any day soon. We were really lucky to have him, and I have to say that he is brilliant.

I have to tell you that we filmed that video at my old house just before I moved and Mark said to me “what’s your address” and I was like, “that’s a stupid question as Santa knows my address” but he found his way over and we all had a great day. It really was very funny. We are all really happy with the way it all came out.

I have to be totally honest with you and tell you that I am waiting patiently for you and the boys to release an album of Tamla Motown covers. I think that your voices lend themselves to that beautifully.

Oh, I would like that. In fact, I have been saying that for a few years now, our Sweet Soul Music album was touching on it, but as you know it wasn’t hard-core Motown. However, I really would like to record a proper Motown album.

And even if you wanted to go down the Christmas route, there are some really wonderful Motown Christmas songs out there that you could work with.

Right, after the forthcoming tour is finished, I will start to really look in to that, thanks Kevin. We usually do a nice Christmas cover, but it is normally just the classics that everyone knows, so yes, we really should look into that.

You are about to go back out on tour. Are you looking forward to it?

Yes, I am, touring has always been the fun part of what it is that we do. Don’t get me wrong, we love everything that this job involves, the rehearsing, learning new choreography, but once we get out on the road performing in front of our fans, that has always been the best part of the job. When you sign a record deal and you start to travel the world, you realise that you don’t get to perform that much, you find yourself doing so much more other stuff. So, when we do actually get out on the road and we get to perform in front of the people who actually support us every night, it really is an amazing feeling. The fans are the reason why we are still doing this after thirteen years. Every time that we step out onto the stage, we aim to put on the best show possible.

Without giving too much away, what can we expect here in Nottingham?

You can expect a feel-good, high-energy show with lots of laughs, lots of dance moves with lots of mistakes but don’t worry, we will hide them well (laughter). It will be a good old-fashioned night out, leave all of your worries and stresses behind, put your dancing shoes on, and trust that we will give you one of the best nights that you have ever had. Believe me, that is quite a statement (laughter).

I have to ask, you have been to Nottingham many times now, what do you think to our fair city?

I love Nottingham and I am not just saying that it has always been a good night out for us. The people up there are always very friendly, and it is always a very good crowd. We absolutely love Nottingham, and we all have fond memories of the city.

You have got Tom (Ball) opening for you on the forthcoming tour, is that a good fit?

Yes, it is, Toms a great lad, he really is such a nice boy. He has had brilliant success on Britain’s Got Talent and the American Allstars version of the show and above anything he really does have such a lovely voice. We will be welcoming him onto the tour bus, we will be making sure that his hygiene is up to scratch, making sure that he doesn’t snore too much, but yes, he has got such an amazing voice (laughter). A while ago now, The Overtones were performing on a cruise ship and Tom was performing on there as well. We got to watch him, and we heard this lovely voice so I really do feel that it is a great fit. It is in the same family as what we do, but it is not too similar to what we do, so it will be a nice change from him to us.

It’s been three years since the release of your last album 10, are there any thoughts on a new studio album?

Yes, there are currently lots of thoughts on that very subject and it will be happening sometime next year for sure. We have actually already recorded one song, which will be released early next year, which will be on the new album. We will be performing the new song on the forthcoming tour, so after the show you will know what song that is (laughter). It is a song where everyone will go, ‘wait a minute, you have never recorded this song before, why not’ (laughter). It is a song that is obvious, it is very high energy, and we are really looking forward to getting the new album done next year. We are aiming to release it next year from autumn onwards.

Is there any chance that you will be releasing the new album on vinyl?

(Laughter) I would love to, yes. Mark says that perhaps we should release our entire back catalogue on vinyl. What do you think of that Kevin?

That would be absolutely fantastic especially if you put a box set together. Now that really would be something else.

What a great idea. Vinyl really is coming back in a big way. My sister-in-law is a singer, and she has been selling vinyl on her tour and they have gone like hot cakes.

I was amazed to find that not only is it the vinyl items that are selling out, but it is also cassettes.

Its crazy isn’t it; people do not have any way to play the cassettes, but they still buy them (laughter). So, we will do that for you, the new album on vinyl and the whole back catalogue just for you.

On the 9th April 2018 we sadly lost Timmy Matley. Was there ever a possibility that would be the end of The Overtones?

Yes, there was, it most definitely crossed our minds. It was a horrible dark moment in all of our lives. In fact we hid away under a rock for a few months, discussing what to do, giving it a bit of time, and we just realised that we still had a job to do and that was to make people smile. It was a huge tragedy and a huge loss in all of our lives, but we all agreed that it wasn’t going to be the end of The Overtones. We still had a job to do and that was to have a positive impact upon people’s lives, so we are carrying on Timmy’s legacy; trying to get better at what we do, and have fun whilst we are doing it.

You are currently supporting the diabetes charity, and as a sufferer myself I applaud you for that.

You are, well Jay James is sitting next to me, and his son is suffering from Type One diabetes, and that is the reason why we are doing it. We have seen firsthand the effect that this awful disease has on people’s lives. He is only four bless him and he has to have injections after every meal, having to control his sugar levels; it really has had a huge impact on James’ life. We said that we would like to do something for charity and that was obviously the first one that came to mind because it is pretty close to our hearts. We are there for Jay, we support him, and we are also trying to raise both awareness and some money for the charity with the Christmas single.

What was the first record that you bought?

That was End Of The Road by Boyz II Men.

Who did you first see performing live?

That was New Kids On The Block.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

That would have to be one of our performances of Moon River which we dedicated to all of the people that we have lost. I actually shed a tear as we were performing it.

What is currently on Darren Everest’s live rider?

(Laughter) wine, beer, fruit, crisps, and that’s about it.

What would be your ideal Christmas?

A healthy Christmas with friends and family with a little mulled wine (laughter).

On that note Darren, let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me, it’s been enlightening.

Thanks Kevin, will you be coming along to any of the shows?

I am hoping to be reviewing and photographing the show here in Nottingham at The Royal Concert Hall on Sunday 12th November.

In that case please do make sure that you come backstage and say hello to me and the rest of the boys.

Thank you that would be great. You stay safe and good luck with the tour.