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Lachie Chapman The Overtones interview

We chat to the singer about the group’s brand new Christmas album.

The Overtones
Credit: Gambling Man Records

The Overtones have been making waves in the music industry since their debut album Good Ol’ Fashioned Love in 2010.

Since then the group has released three more Top 10 albums and following their hugely successful Sweet Soul Music tour in the summer, they are back with their first Christmas album Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas. The album will be supported with a festive tour that is sure to be one of the hottest tickets of the winter.

We called group member Lachie Chapman to find out all about the new album, talk about selecting which festive classics to record, and to get all the gossip on the upcoming tour.

Your new album Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas is coming out. Tell me all about it…

A lot of people have been asking for years when we’re going to release a Christmas album. The classic age of the Christmas album belonged to the Ronettes, Bing Crosby and the 1950s and 60s; that’s the sound we try to emulate and always have so to make a Christmas album at least sonically it’s like putting a perfect fit glove on really. We had a little stash of Christmas songs because we recorded four a few years back and we’ve always brought them out at Christmas time and everyone loves them so we thought we’d just make a whole album. We went into the studio and wrote a couple of originals as well. It’s beautiful and I’m thrilled with our Christmas album. It’s lovely and I listen to it quite a bit. The final mixes came through in the last few months so I’ve been listening to Christmas songs for the last six weeks.

That’s pretty impressive considering it’s still November…

Yeah but we’re going to be on the road until Christmas and I need to get my time in walking around London. All the Christmas lights are on now and I’m going to miss all that pre-Christmas time around Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and Carnaby Street. It’s magical around there at this time.

How hard is it to pick which Christmas songs to record with there being so many out there to choose from?

The first 5 or 6 are not tricky at all. It’s the last four that become the tricky ones. There are some that just have to go on there like The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), White Christmas and Sleigh Ride; they have to be on a Christmas album particularly by us. Some of the real banging upbeat dancefloor songs – they need to be on the album. We spent a long time wondering whether to do Driving Home for Christmas and not everyone was convinced we should do it. We did a demo of it and it all started with just playing the keyboard. Julian Hinton, one of the producers along with Graham Archer, just started playing some chords and we thought ‘hold on, wait that’s the song. It doesn’t need too much production it’s just a key-based song!’ There are some songs that had to go on and there are some songs that unfold themselves to you and gently tap you on the shoulder saying ‘put me on the album, put me on the album!’

Is there any song you really wanted to record but couldn’t for one reason or another?

If we could have done one more song I would have liked to do Silver Bells (It’s Christmas Time in the City) or It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (starts singing). If my granny was still here she’d ask me to put that song on the album (laughs).

Part of the charm of a good Christmas album comes with the delivery of the vocals. Is it hard to record a Christmas album months before the season?

Oh definitely. We laughed about this from the moment we walked into the studio in the baking heat at the end of summer. We were wearing flip-flops and t-shirts recording Christmas songs. There was a real festive spirit in the studio. We did it every day for weeks and weeks so to us it was just like an Australian Christmas – hot! Whenever you come out of the recording booth and you’ve been singing a song for 6 hours straight you can’t get that song out of your head. Being a singer it’s quite normal to continue singing that song out loud. I don’t think anything about singing in the street now, not loudly, under my breath but I’m singing all the time. It’s a little strange when you’re on a peak hour tube in London singing Christmas songs without realising you’re singing them because you’ve been so used to singing them all day and you get a couple of glances.

Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas is your first release on your own label Gambling Man Records. How did that come about?

It’s come about because we’re making the Christmas album through ADA, which is a subsidiary of Warner Bros. We had to come up with a name for our label and we thought that it had to be Gambling Man. This is our fifth album and the industry and our fans have taken a complete punt on us so we’ll forever be the gambling men.

You’ll be hitting the road again in support of this record…

It’s so lovely now. I get a feeling that regardless of the album we’re touring, people just know they’re going to have a great night. It’s a real privilege to do two major tours in less than 12 months. We’re completely chuffed.

Do you still get excited about being on the road and performing to different crowds every night?

Oh yeah! It’s all go-go-go now. We’re in with our vocal coach, we’re regrouping with all our harmonies, we’re singing together and we’re working with our choreographer Dax O’Callaghan who is brilliant – he choreographed our last tour so it’s a joy to be back with him. The temperature has just plummeted, the Christmas lights are on around town and it just feels Christmassy now. We knew we were going to be hitting the road with this well before we announced it. We kind of knew this tour was in the pipeline during the end of our last tour in the summer time. Touring is great fun. You get to stand in front of a couple of thousand people a night with smiles on their faces that want to dance and have fun. It’s THE perk of the job.

In terms of the set list are you singing only Christmas songs or will there be some of your hits in there too?

See that’s why we called it The Overtones Christmas Party. The Christmas songs will all be in there but we really curated really carefully so it’ll be part Christmas party, part office party if you get what I mean? It’s going to be a bit of a free for all and hopefully everyone will be up and dancing the whole time.

Is it hard picking which songs to sing and which ones to leave out now you’re five albums down the line?

Yeah it can be because we’ve got a lot of material now and there are lots of songs to choose from. Christmas has that quality of reminiscence, sentimentality and yesterday so we’re looking to album one; the real classic doo-wop stuff that gets people singing. You’ll have to wait and see! We work really closely on our set lists whenever we do a show and think about how to guide the audience through the hour and a half we spend together in a theatre on an evening. We’ve been looking at that one really closely and we’re really happy with it.

Will you get any time this Christmas to relax and see friends and family?

I’m not going to be going home for Christmas this year because the tour finishes on the 20th and we’re going to be pretty much working until the 23rd. I’m going to be staying in London for Christmas this year and I’m going to have a quiet Christmas with friends. I’m actually going to a hotel in town and I’m going to sit down with my mates that I haven’t seen in a while and have eggnog or two and let someone else do the dishes. I’m going to treat myself this Christmas.

What can you tell us about your plans for 2016?

We’re looking at touring and recording next year. I can’t really tell you too much about it because it’s not written in ink yet. In the summertime hopefully we’ll be doing some festivals and we’re looking at another big tour for next year.

Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas is released on Friday 27th November 2015.

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