In the CD cover notes of Human Nature’s new album Reach Out -“ The Motown Record, where the band members thanked their loved ones, Toby Allen wrote something curious: Darren, you have made me more complete than I have known. I love you.
Was this what we’d been waiting for? A member of a successful Australian pop group’s coming out? Our very own Stephen Gately (Boyzone), or Mark Feehily (Westlife)?
Maybe, maybe not. When asked if Darren was his boyfriend, Allen wouldn’t elaborate.
I don’t actually want to talk about that, he told Sydney Star Observer. I really like having a part of my life that only I am experiencing.
Allen has been laying low for the last 18 months, partly because of a problem with his vocal chords that forced him to drop out of a stage production of Grease. Now fully recovered he’s excited about promoting Human Nature’s latest album, a compilation of Motown classics, and preparing to hit the road with the band on a national tour.
He admitted the band was somewhat nervous about re-recording such classic songs as If You Don’t Know Me By Now, I’ll Be There, My Girl, Stop In The Name of Love and especially I Heard It Through The Grapevine.
We thought I Heard It Through The Grapevine was a touchy area. It’s hallowed ground that song, and Marvin Gaye’s performance of it.
But at the same time we weren’t messing with the songs too much. People can’t say we ruined the original versions by changing the style. It’s more about us as a vocal group having a chance to perform some of these songs in a respectful way.
Since releasing their first record back in 1996 Human Nature have sold over 1.5 million albums, making them one of Australia’s biggest local acts. They’ve toured with Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Celine Dion, and they sang the national anthem at the opening of the 2000 Olympics.
They also did a rousing rendition of Wham’s I’m Your Man at Mardi Gras in 2002, proving they’re not afraid of tarnishing their squeaky clean image. Performing at Mardi Gras, we all felt, was such an experience, Allen said. Coming on stage there was this amazing roar from the crowd. And because it was predominantly guys there it was different to what we were used to at our gigs, where it’s mostly younger girls. It was fun.
Allen performed in the 2002 stage production of Cabaret as the very camp Emcee, a performance he was critically acclaimed for and something he said he loved doing. But it made him hesitant to explore similar projects, he said, because part of me thinks nothing will live up to what that experience was.
It was received so well I think part of me thinks, well maybe I should retire my musical theatre career on a high. But if something comes along and I’ve got time to do it, and the other guys are cool with it, then I’d love to explore other stuff.
Reach Out -“ The Motown Record is out now.