News Column

Magnets Combine Harmonies, Beatboxing and a Very British Charm

May 31, 2013

Simon Wilson

A capella group The Magnets will combine harmonies, beatboxing and a very British charm when they come to Nottingham Playhouse next week, Michael Welton tells Simon Wilson

Where are you from? The Magnets were formed while at university in London, and we're still very much based there. I'm from Devon, but now live near Manchester.

How did music start for you? Music runs in my family. My grandfather owned a music shop and always said enjoy your music but don't make it your career. Wise words that both me and my sister have foolishly ignored.

Who were you listening to when you were growing up? My parents had a mostly classical record collection, so I banged my yogurt pots to their LP of the BBC Polyphonic Workshop. When I did get to listen to songs by Bowie and the Beatles it was the King's Singers performing them, which at least gave me an early introduction to vocal harmony music. My inevitable rock rebellion happened at 12 when I got hooked on hair metal bands like Bon Jovi, Poison and Europe.

What was the first album or single you ever bought? My first single was the wonderful Frog Chorus by Paul McCartney, and my first legitimate album purchase was Crazy Nights by Kiss.

Where and when was your first gig? The Magnets' first gig was a three-song set as part of a university dance show way back in 1995. The crowd went nuts and the adulation turned our heads rather, perhaps the reason why we're still going all these years later.

How would you describe your music? Simply great music, simply with the mouth.

Who or what have been your biggest musical inspirations? At the outset we were inspired by US a cappella group Rockapell. But musically we're inspired by Bowie, Sting, AC/DC, A-Ha, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and much more.

Tell us about your latest album.

All This Time is a celebration of British songwriters from our own lifetimes, ranging from the 1970s (Bowie and Mud) through to the present day (Richard Hawley and Adele).

We were inevitably inspired by the build-up to the Olympics just down the road from where several of our band members live.

The album also features our first original songs for a few years - it's good to be writing again.

What can we expect at your Nottingham gig? Our sound is so big that when people see us for the first time they often can't quite believe there are no instruments.

So expect to be perplexed, at least for the first few minutes!

But also expect to be entertained.

We work hard to make sure every number has something different, from a full disco routine to our medley of the entire history of British pop!

What experiences have you had of Nottingham? Nottingham has had a fairly pivotal role in our career. One of our first brushes with stardom came when we won an episode of Star For A Night (the pre-X Factor talent show presented by Jane Macdonald), which was filmed in Nottingham.

We've also had some great shows at the Royal Concert Hall supporting Michael Ball and Lisa Stansfield, and we've headlined the Lakeside Arts Centre a couple of times. We're making a big step up to the Playhouse, though!

Anything else? We suggest a game of Spot the Magnet on T- Mobile's viral Welcome Back advert on You-Tube!

The Magnets appear at Nottingham Playhouse on Thursday, supported by Carlton's Lace City Chorus, at 8pm. Tickets are Pounds 17.50. Call 0115 941 9419 or go to

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