From Bristol's Footlights to the Big Time - Mike Crawshaw

PUBLISHED: 13:04 23 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:26 20 February 2013

From Bristol's Footlights to the Big Time - Mike Crawshaw

From Bristol's Footlights to the Big Time - Mike Crawshaw

Mike Crawshaw's rise from Bristol theatre to stardom with The Overtones is no overnight success story, discovers Sarah Ford. Photos by Charlie Clift

Mike Crawshaws rise from Bristol theatre to stardom with The Overtones is no overnight success story, discovers Sarah Ford. Photos by Charlie Clift

See more of Charlie's photos below!

Mike Crawshaw has been surviving on little sleep, and life has been a whirlwind of recording and performing, but the Bristol-born member of The Overtones thankfully found time chat to me and pose for some stunning photos for Somerset Life photographer Charlie Clift.
The images are taken in a city which still feels like home for Mike, as his parents live here, and he comes back as often as his busy schedule will allow.
He is part of the successful five-piece harmony group who have just finished their first headline UK tour. Their album Good Ol Fashioned Love has gone gold and millions watched earlier this year as the 1950s-style doo-wop band performed on ITVs popular skating show Dancing on Ice.
I am starting to get used to all this now, says Mike when I ask him how he is coping with fame. At the start it was all very surreal but its turning into the norm now, which is strange in itself!

Mike grew up in Bedminster and the family moved to Kingswood when he was 16. He went to Cheddar Grove School, Bedminster Down Comprehensive and then St Brendans Sixth Form College.
I was always quite creative and enjoyed drama at school but I also enjoyed football and athletics and used to do lots of cross-country running, Mike recalls.
While I was at St Brendans a friend of mine, who was in an amateur production of Jesus Christ Super Star in Bath, suggested I take part because they needed more boys. I thought I would just be second guard on the left or something but I got tricked into auditioning for a part. From then on I just fell in love with it.
Mike took part in shows staged by local groups such as the Bristol Amateur Operatic Society and Bristol Light Opera Club before leaving the city for London in order to pursue his singing career.
I had no idea what I was doing really when I got to London, but I just knew I wanted to perform and sing. I went to a few open mic nights and thats where I met the lads. We decided to have a sing together and we seemed to gel.
Once the band was up and running, Mike and his fellow Overtones (Darren Everest, Lachlan Chapman, Mark Franks and Timmy Matley) wanted to get to a professional standard. But in order to do this they needed to rehearse as much as they could.
We started a painting and decorating business in the hope that we could get a job large enough to work together and rehearse at the same time, Mike explains.
We were on one of our first jobs on an office block and were singing a Billy Joel number on our tea break when a scout from Warner Records came along and heard us.
After this big break more hard work was to follow and a year after getting signed to the record company, Mike is in reflective mood.
We were just saying to each other the other day how its been a year since we were signed and its crazy whats happened since then. We have to remind ourselves to enjoy every moment of it because its hard work. I cant remember what sleep is like! Weve had lots of early starts and a lot of late finishes we got back from Ireland late last night and had to get up early to record in the studio this morning. That is an average day but its a dream come true. We were together five years before we got signed so we have certainly earned our stripes along the way.

As well as bringing new life to old favourites like Rogers and Harts Blue Moon or Cole Porters In the Still of the Night, The Overtones have also co-written new songs for their album. And it seems the boys not only sing in close harmony but they get along like best friends.
We are constantly living in each others pockets and we do get on well. We have given support to one another through sad times and happy times. We still argue, but at the end of the day the arguments are forgotten.
Luckily for Mike and his loyal local fans, the Ol Fashioned Love tour included a show at Bristols Thekla on the dockside and Mike was able to perform in front of an audience that included his parents, Steve and Lynne, and sister Carey.
I was able to introduce the crowd to my mum and dad and told my sister how beautiful she looked. I think my parents are proud of me and I really feel that during all the struggle of the last five or six years they have been my absolute rock though the whole thing. Without my parents and sister it would not have happened, and every time I see them I remind them how much I appreciate them.

The new single Gambling Man is released on 27 June. The Overtones will be at the Colston Hall, Bristol on 16 October.

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