From decorator to major record deal: Cork’s Timmy Matley from The Overtones
The Overtones are an acapella group who sing in the do-wop style of the 1950s whoâ€™ve just signed a five-album deal with major record label Warner Music. Prior to their megabucks signing, they worked as painters and decorators in London.
Their lead singer is 28-year-old Corkonian Timmy Matley (top right in the picture), who brought the rest of the lads back across the Irish Sea for an appearance on The Late Late to coincide with the 29 October release of their debut album Good Olâ€™ Fashioned Love.
JOE caught up with Timmy prior to the ladsâ€™ Late Late performance for a quick pint and a chat.
JOE: How ya doinâ€™ Timmy?
Timmy: Very well, thanks.
JOE: How did a Cork lad like you get involved with this Overtones malarkey in London?
Timmy: Iâ€™d been trying to get into the music business for a long time â€“ I actually moved over to London when I was 17 in order to pursue my dreams. As far as The Overtones go, weâ€™ve been together making music for about five years after meeting each other at various open mic sessions around town.
JOE: So you were singing in a group together and decided to set up a painting and decorating firm. Thatâ€™s quite an unusual career move, isnâ€™t it?
Timmy: It got to the point where, although we were primarily singers, we were all doing jobs such as bar work or working as waiters to make ends meet and it was proving hard for us to hook up together to rehearse.
A couple of the lads came up with the idea of doing some painting and decorating, so we set up a company and got some big commercial jobs which would not only mean that we would all be available at the same time to rehearse, but weâ€™d also be using the space weâ€™re painting to practice in during our breaks.
So we were together, we were earning money, and we were able to rehearse. It worked out well.
JOE:Â And it was while you were on one of these breaks that you were spotted…
Timmy: Yeah, thatâ€™s right. Sometimes when people hear five lads singing in harmony it can make you a bit of a focus of passers by. We were having a bit of a tea break while on a job on Oxford Street in the middle of London when this woman came up to us, as would happen from time to time, and asked us a few questions.
She wanted to know how long weâ€™d been together and who our influences were, which we told her.Â She then said she knew people in the music industry and you kind of think â€œOh, weâ€™ve heard all this beforeâ€, but we gave her a card from our decorating business.
Two days later she rang back and asked us to come in and sing some songs. It turned out that all the people she wanted us to meet were the execs at Warner Music. We were definitely nervous, but we knew that this was our chance.
Thankfully for us it went well and they offered us a record deal.
JOE: So why do you think they went with you, given that what youâ€™re doing is so retro?
Timmy: I think thereâ€™s a demand for our sound. Look at the success of the likes of Paloma Faith, Amy Winehouse and Michael BublÃ© â€“ they have that old-school sound with a modern twist on it. I think it makes you want to move. I think itâ€™s about time we heard a group of male voices doing that sort of music.
JOE: Youâ€™ve brought the lads over with you for an appearance with Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late. Do the rest of the lads get the significance of appearing on such an Irish institution?
Timmy: Iâ€™ve filled the lads in and weâ€™re all excited. Of course, Iâ€™m the one whoâ€™s the most excited. Itâ€™s been a great platform for so many people.
JOE: What do the folks back in Cork think about you getting a record deal and appearing on RTÃ‰?
Timmy: As youâ€™d probably expect, my mam is overly emotional about the whole thing and cries every time I speak to her. My family are all over the moon. Over the years theyâ€™ve probably had more faith in me getting to the position Iâ€™m in now than Iâ€™ve had. When youâ€™re struggling to get noticed year after year youâ€™re going to have doubts, but theyâ€™d keep pushing me on.
JOE: So whatâ€™s next? How do you follow sharing the stage with the great Ryan Tubridy?
Timmy: Weâ€™ve been laying down some Christmas tracks which will be released nearer the big day. Other than that weâ€™re just going to work at getting our music heard by as wide an audience as possible.
JOE: Best of luck with that.
Good Olâ€™ Fashioned Love by The Overtones is out now.