Known for their offbeat song selection and a relaxed, cheeky stage presence not found among most of their -˜popera’ contemporaries, the Ten Tenors are a likeable combination of musical talent and eye candy (with so many members, there’s someone for everybody).

But like Dannii Minogue and Prisoner: Cell Block H before them, they’re an Australian success story that seems to have been embraced more warmly overseas than at home.

We got a start years ago in Germany performing in the Eurovision Song Contest as special guest artists, and we started touring Europe from there. It seems like you have to have some success overseas to really be recognised here… I’m not sure why that is, said Tod Strike, who’s been with the group since its late ’90s inception.

We got started in Australia, and the original aim of the group was to take opera to communities that otherwise wouldn’t be able to hear it -” regional and outback areas. The group would drive around outback Australia in a trailer. Now here we are in 2009 touring the world -” it really snowballed, continued Graham Foote, the Tenors’ musical director.

With such a large group, its seems inevitable that members would come and go -” the Ten Tenors have churned through almost 30 men in their decade or so of touring. Both Foote and Strike are upbeat about the high turnover.

It keeps things fresh. The group we’ve got now is the most versatile and the most hip -” we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we sing everything from Simon and Garfunkel to ’80s medleys to Queen … we even did a Pink song the other day, Strike said.

Although one member of the group, Stewy, loves heavy metal. He’s always saying -˜Oh, we could do a Metallica track, they’ve got some cracking songs!’ We have to let him down gently.

As their song choices would suggest, the Tenors are keen to distance themselves from some of their more staid easy listening contemporaries.

I love what, say, Il Divo do, but we cover a range of different styles. We saw one of the Il Divo guys at an event recently, and he was by his own admission very envious of the freedom we have on stage to do what we want, Strike said.

And we’re not an act like Michael Buble, who was found and made by a label. We had to do it through sweat and tears … although we’re now at the more pleasurable end of the spectrum!

Speaking of pleasurable, do the boys find Ten Tenors groupies lined up outside the stage door after performances?

There are some groupies, yes. Perhaps not the kind of demographic we’d be keen on though -“ more the blue rinse set, they laugh. But you take what you get, I suppose!

It is hard to drop the name -˜Ten Tenors’ to pick up, said Foote. You might get, -˜Oh, my Mum likes you!

info: The Ten Tenors play the State Theatre on July 17. Details: thetentenors.com. Nostalgica is out now through Warner Music.

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