Sale born Mark Franks on his success with the Overtones
PUBLISHED: 12:28 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 February 2013
Sale born Mark Franks of the Overtones is not only on the brink of success he's a top bloke too
Mark Franks is late calling me from London as hes just been stuck on the tube but I find myself forgiving him almost immediately writes Janet Reeder.
He may be part of one of the hottest singing groups of the moment one on the brink of a sell-out tour this month - but hes just dead nice and massively apologetic. And how could I not forgive a chap who has managed to hang on to his sexy northern accent even though he left Sale at the tender age of 11 to train as a ballet dancer?
Yes, hes our very own Billy Elliot and thankfully he has the good grace not to groan at this less than original observation.
I went to Wood Hayes primary school and then did ballet at the Royal Ballet School. Id been the only boy in my ballet class in Sale and they suggested I audition which I did and I got in.
Hes making it sound very easy, though when pressed for details it turns out to be quite a painful experience for him at times, not least because he had to leave mum Jan and dad Brian back home in Cheshire, then there was all those classes! The boy is nothing if not dedicated.
We had to do our normal school work as well as train, admits Mark.
It was very intense, especially at the age of 11. It is quite full-on. You have to eat, sleep and breathe ballet and at first I was quite homesick. At the age of 11 Manchester to London seemed as far away as London to Australia, although ultimately, it was really confidence building. And it was such an opportunity, as it was one of the best schools in the world for ballet.
The Overtones seems to be a continuation of the whole boarding with mates thing. Here are a group of guys who have lived, work and sung together for several years. The legend is that they were painting and decorating on Oxford Street, London and were suddenly discovered, however, it wasnt an overnight thing at all.
After leaving the Royal ballet aged 16, Mark retuned closer to home to Lipa - the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and got to broaden his skills. It was there he discovered a talent for singing.
When I came back down to London ultimately it was about pushing yourself in all directions and I was lucky enough to get in with Warners. We are definitely not an overnight success, he says.
Four of us have been together six or seven years. We were playing open mic nights in London pubs with sticky floors but we really enjoyed what we were doing and were really positive about it, we also knew we had something good to offer.
Their brand of vintage music, based around the old doo-wop harmonies of the 1950s seems to have struck a chord with people who want a purer less technical sound; after all, when they record they use real people with real instruments.
Mark, 34, believes there on the zeitgeist: If you look at the charts these days they have people like Paloma Faith and Plan B and their sound is quite vintage. I think we have happened onto something thats quite current in a strange way.
When he was younger hed listen to Manchester bands like the Stone Roses and the Charlatans, however he loved clubbing and old school disco by the likes of New Order and hes not afraid to get up on the dancefloor as hes performed on telly as a backing dancer in shows like the X Factor.
Then I was always suffering from nerves but as I got older I just felt I had to try and enjoy it. I thought of how lucky I was to be in the industry and knowing how fickle this world is, I should just try to enjoy it while I can.
Getting success in his 30s has been a good thing he believes.
Being older we are quite together. We are not a manufactured production and everything we do comes very much from us as a band. I think its a good age for this experience to happen because when you get into your 30s youve seen life a bit more. I think when youre 18 and end up in a band theres always the chance youll go off the rails but I like to think that wont happen to me my mums brought me up well.
The Overtones new single Second Last Chance is out October 10th and taken from the album Good Ol Fashioned Love Platinum Edition. The Overtones will be at The Lowry in Salford on October 18th.