In 1989, four friends came together to form a quartet and began singing in school concerts. Twenty years later Human Nature are still together and more successful than ever.

As they prepared to release their tenth album, A Symphony of Hits, Andrew Tierney, Michael Tierney, Phil Burton and Toby Allen discussed the album and reflected on twenty years of performing and growing together. The album contains past hits along with new material, all arranged by a 75-piece symphony orchestra.

Phil explained how the band came up with the idea. We were approached by the Sydney Symphony to do some shows with them at the Opera House.

We weren’t thinking of releasing an album this year [2008] but when we started putting the live show together it sounded like a great match -” us with our harmonies together with the orchestra.

The album covers every era of the group’s career. It was an opportunity to revisit some of the songs from our past that really meant something to us that we haven’t performed for a long time, Andrew said.

Toby agreed. It was great to be able to do some of those early songs, probably because we have been doing Motown so much for the last four years, he said.

It was also great to re-record some of those songs for our fans who discovered us though the Motown stuff.

The Motown material broadened the band’s fan base, particularly among older people who knew the songs.

After recording three albums of Motown songs, Human Nature toured the United States. Soul legend Smokey Robinson came to one of their shows. People know who he is in Australia but in America all you need to do is mention his name and the audience will stand on their feet, Michael said.

We thanked him for coming and the audience stood and cheered -” just for being Smokey.
Early in their career, the group toured as support acts for Michael Jackson and Celine Dion. Toby remembers Jackson as very reclusive.

With Celine Dion we learned that it pays to be nice to people, he said. She was one of the most down-to-earth people we had ever worked with.

They attribute their consistent success over two decades to their practice of doing things that keep them interested and that they enjoy. We still have an audience that likes what we do and we are still having fun, Michael said.

Phil cited the Sydney Olympics in 2000 as a highlight of their time together.

The idea that we were asked to represent Australia was kind of an amazing moment, he said.

They said they wanted the best that Australian music had to offer and we were chosen to be one of the performers. That was an awesome feeling.

Can Human Nature fans expect to see another album of original works?

We are not in a rush, Andrew said. If we are going to do another original record then we have to make it something really special. Not just something for the sake of getting a record out there.

info: A Symphony of Hits is in stores now.

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