It’s Alright, Tony Mortimer has ditched rapping but he’ll Stay in pop music
PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 September 2016
The ex-East 17 member continues to perform and is set to tour the O2 venues of the UK, including Islington 02 Centre.
East 17’s Stay Another Day reached the top of the UK singles chart in 1994 to become that year’s Christmas number one.
It was one of the top selling hits of the decade and won its writer Tony Mortimer an Ivor Novello award.
These days, Mortimer has parted company with East 17, but he continues to perform and is set to tour the O2 venues of the UK.
Despite his departure from the group that made him a household name in the ’90s, Mortimer embraces the time he spent with other band members and is aware that, for many people coming to his gigs, the appeal lies in seeing the former star light up the stage once more.
“A lot of my gigs will be the East 17 stuff because that’s what made me – it’s what I’m well known for,” says Mortimer.
“There will of course be the stuff from my newer albums as well, but a lot of that is work I did back in the day.”
Yet Mortimer’s style has changed over the past two decades with his musical focus shifting to more melodic offerings.
He still enjoys writing popular music that makes people “get up and dance” but admits he has said goodbye to writing the rap songs that were so prevalent on the East 17 tracks.
“I’ve always been interested in writing melodies. Stay was definitely a melody and it did really well.
For a while I wrote a lot of rap songs, but I’ve said goodbye to all that now.
“I tend to stick to pop music. I really want to make people move and dance which for me is what music is about.
“I deliberately avoid jazz though. Jazz is nice, but it’s like treacle: too much of it gets sickly.”
It’s clear Mortimer is very excited about his tour, which comes to Islington’s O2 Academy on September 24.
But he admits that, as he’s a bit older, travelling round the country takes its toll, so he doesn’t do it too regularly.
“Performing on stage is highly addictive, a bit like a drug. You have so many nerves before you go on stage and it is petrifying to perform to a crowd.
“So many things can go wrong like equipment not working, but it’s so fun and exciting.
“At the same time it is physically much harder as you get older. When you are younger you can live off crisps and an hour’s sleep but when you are older you need more regular hours and exercise.
“I think the fact that I don’t tour too much also keeps the demand higher when I do perform live, as they know it might be a while before they get the chance to see me again.”
Despite the thrill of performing live, Mortimer prefers the slower, more relaxed atmosphere of writing and recording material in the studio, joking this might be because he is “a bit lazy”.
He adds: “Performing in the studio and on the stage is very different, kind of like two heads.
“Working in the studio is very satisfying and you can take an hour or two to really get something right.”
For Mortimer, one of the most crucial things for any songwriter or musician is to listen to a variety of artists spanning different genres.
“It’s important to branch out and be inspired by a number of artists rather than listening to just one person, otherwise you might become a carbon copy of what they produce, only you won’t do it as well.
“I’ve got a lot of musical influences such as Bob Marley and Prince and I love a lot of the 1960s sounds.
“George Michael has one of the greatest male voices, so it would be great if he could release more stuff.
“I also love Paul Weller’s early work.”
Tickets can be purchased at ticketweb.co.uk from £20.25, but the Gazette has two pairs to give away. Just tell us: which boyband was Tony Mortimer a member of – North17, South17, East17 or West17? Winners must be 18+. Travel and hospitality are not included. Bring photo ID. Send answer, name and contact details by Sept 15 to: Tony Mortimer comp, Archant, 108-110 Finchley Road, NW3 5JJ. T&Cs on request.