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Wet Wet Wet to unveil new singer Kevin Simm in Cambridge next week

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Wet Wet Wet
Wet Wet Wet

The band's drummer Tommy Cunningham and keyboard player Neil Mitchell note that the reaction on social media to the decision to bring in a new vocalist has been mixed.

When Marti Pellow quit Wet Wet Wet in the summer of 2017, it came as a shock to many fans of the Scottish pop/soul icons.

Many of us lifelong fans naturally assumed that that was the end of the band – who formed in 1982 – and held onto the hope that they would eventually get back together again at some point, just as they did in 2004, after Pellow had left for the first time in 1999.

Founding members Graeme Clark (bass), Tommy Cunningham (drums) and Neil Mitchell (keyboards) – along with guitarist, Graeme Duffin, an unofficial member since 1983 – had other ideas, however, recruiting singer Kevin Simm.

The 38-year-old is perhaps best known for his time in noughties pop sensation Liberty X and as winner of the 2016 series of The Voice.

Bursting onto the scene out of Glasgow in 1987 with their debut single, Wishing I Was Lucky, Wet Wet Wet – named after a line from a Scritti Politti song – have been something of a musical phenomenon, selling more than 15million albums and singles.

Wet Wet Wet
Wet Wet Wet

Raring to get out there with their new singer, Tommy said: “We’ve been frantic, so we have. In 2017, Marti came out with an announcement that he wanted to stop being on stage doing music, but wanted to forge forward with his theatre career...”

“Why are we talking about Marti? He’s not in the band any more,” interjects Tommy’s bandmate and friend from way back, Neil Mitchell, playfully joining in the conversation.

Tommy continues: “We’ve nothing but respect for the fact that he decided that he couldn’t commit anymore.

"We agree with it. He was not giving his time or efforts towards Wet Wet Wet, so it was right that he removed himself from there.

“But then it opened up a huge challenge for us. How do you replace that voice, how do you replace that presence?”

“That ego!” jokes Neil. “So we have spent a good part of a year and a half getting to the point where we’re ready to go back on stage.

“Think about it – a band that’s been successful for 30 years introduce a new voice, so we’ve got an uphill struggle and battle, but we’re tough enough, long enough in the tooth and willing to take it on and move forward and try to convince everyone that this is a good thing.”

Neil says: “We decided that we wanted to continue the band when Marti left. I think he left round about July 2017, so we held auditions in November of that year because we wanted to move fast.

"Initially, we didn’t really want to go down the route of looking for someone from one of those talent shows because we felt we didn’t necessarily need somebody that’s known or people have seen before.

“So we held auditions in Glasgow and it didn’t go really well at all – the guys couldn’t really sing the songs as well as we’d hoped.”

Wet Wet Wet on stage
Wet Wet Wet on stage

Tommy adds: “We had to find someone with a world-class voice, it’s hard to get someone who can fill those shoes and make us feel comfortable on stage.

“Kevin was in Liberty X and he was not on our radar. That band were much more programmed and produced and packaged, and Kevin played a very small part in that, and he admits that himself – that it was more dance routines than anything else.

“So when Liberty X came to an end, he was left with the dilemma of how does he move forward.

"He took the really brave move of putting himself right on the line by going on a talent show, The Voice, and luckily, purely by chance, I was watching that night – and he lifted the roof.

“The song Chandelier was an incredible moment, one of the highlights of The Voice. “I didn’t watch the rest of the series, I had no idea he’d won it. I just remember seeing him that night, and it was Graeme, our bass player, who said, ‘What about Kevin Simm?’

"And I went, ‘I watched that, that guy can sing – let’s give him a call’.”

Tommy recalls that Kevin’s first thought was that the band were going to ask him to be a backing vocalist or a support act on a tour.

“He was flabbergasted and shocked when the actual request was, ‘Would you like to try and sing these songs?’” says Tommy.

“We gave him two days to learn 12 songs, and we relived that moment from The Voice – our jaws were now the ones that were on the floor when he stood there and delivered all 12 songs perfectly.

"It took us 30 minutes to offer him the job.”

The band later discovered that Kevin was actually a fan of Wet Wet Wet.

Wet Wet Wet
Wet Wet Wet

Tommy says that the reaction from fans to Wet Wet Wet’s decision to continue with Kevin has essentially been split down the middle, with a number of fans on social media saying it will never be the same without Marti.

“Then there’s the other side of it,” he observes, “with people saying, ‘No, Wet Wet Wet were a band and they deserve to continue and Kevin’s the right choice’.

“We did a very small gig in Glasgow of 400 or 500 people to introduce Kevin and it went astonishingly well, so that’s why we’ve put a tour on, that’s why we’re going to go up and down the country convincing people one at a time about how good this guy is.

"Wet Wet Wet are a band so it should never be about one person.”

Wet Wet Wet will be appearing at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Friday, May 3.

Tickets £28, VIP sound check experience £58.

All tickets include a £3 booking fee.


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