Last Choir Standing winners Only Men Aloud will be performing in Motherwell for the first time on Wednesday, June 17.
As part of their 30-date On The Road tour, the Welsh vocal ensemble are appearing at venues they have never played before including Motherwell Concert Hall.
Since winning the BBC competition in 2008 the eight-man group have thrilled audiences throughout the UK and America with appearances at prestigious events such as the opening ceremony of 2012 Olympic Games, two Royal Variety Performances, the Ryder Cup opening concert and Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas Special.
Craig Yates joined Only Men Aloud more than ten years ago having gained a BA in Music and a Post Graduate Diploma in Singing from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, before being invited to continue his studies in St Petersburg, Russia.
He is looking forward to appearing to new audiences during the On The Road tour.
Craig said: “We have been north of the border before to perform in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but for this tour we decided to go to towns we had never been to before as we wanted to see some new places and check out new venues.
“The tour is 30-dates which is double what we normally do, so it is challenging, but it is spread out over a month and half so around three gigs a week isn’t so bad.
“The line-up has slimmed down to eight members from our days of winning Last Choir Standing nowadays so we have two Only Men Aloud cars which gives us much more freedom than having a big coach afforded us.
“Living out of a suitcase is never easy, but depending on the geography we can just head home to our beds rather than having to always be in a hotel.
“However, we are all still a great group of friends so travelling around together is great fun and we hope to make lots of new friends when we get to Motherwell later this month.”
Last Choir Standing proved a big ratings hit for the BBC in July and August of 2008 watched by millions of people, but Craig understands why there has never been a second series.
He said: “I think the show was very successful, especially being on in the middle of summer, but I think it was also very expensive to produce.
“Unlike most of these competitions where you maybe just have a soloist or perhaps a duo, by their very nature choirs have a lot of members.
“Even though there was 18 of us back then we were still among the smaller groups so I think the BBC quite liked us, but some of the choirs had up to 50 in them which is a lot of travelling costs and a lot of hotel rooms to find and pay for.
“However, we are very proud to still be associated with it and to this day we are the reigning champions which is fine by us.”
With over a quarter of a million worldwide album sales to date, their fifth studio album ‘Only Men Aloud: On the Road’ is due for release in the summer which Craig says presents something of a shift for them.
He said: “We have always been quite serious and a lot of our music has been Welsh, but this time we decided to be a little more poppy covering some great songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
“We have done bits and pieces of classical crossover before and it always goes down well, but this is the first time we have dedicated a whole album to it.
“For the first time everyone has the chance to shine as with only eight of us our voices are a lot more distinctive as there is room for everyone to get a solo so fans should get to know us as individuals.
“In the past every piece had a minimum of three or four voices singing at one time, so this was a new challenge as we really had to make sure we knew our parts, but it showcases everyone’s individual talents a lot more.”
Only Men Aloud are also organising their Christmas tour and hope it will bring them back to Scotland over the festive period.
Craig said: “We are currently talking to a promoter about the Christmas shows, I know there are English and Welsh dates organised and Scotland is in the works.
“We were in Edinburgh last year and Glasgow a few years before that so while nothing is set as yet hopefully something can be worked out and we’ll be north of the border again very soon.”
The show starts at 7.30pm and tickets costing £23.50 are available by calling 01698 403120 or visiting Culture NL