Human Nature have earned their place as one of the world’s finest pop vocal groups of the modern era. Human Nature arrived into the lives of the great Australian public in 1996. Since then they’ve become known around the globe for their distinctive harmonies and stellar live shows. Human Nature have ridden a wave to the top of the charts, initially at home, and and have subsequently won fans all over the planet.
The foursome – Toby Allen, Phil Burton, and brothers Andrew and Michael Tierney – recently celebrated their 26th anniversary. That kind of staying power, combined with their incredible vocal talent, has seen them headline sold-out shows around Australia, as well as building a formidable reputation as a genuine Las Vegas headline attraction.
Their statistics are staggering. Since signing to Sony Music Australia over two decades ago, Human Nature have sold more than 2.5 million albums, earned 25 platinum awards, scored 17 Top 40 hits and have had five Top Ten tracks worldwide. Among the hits you’ll hear such classics as ‘Wishes’, ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’, ‘Don’t Cry’, ‘Eternal Flame’, ‘He Don’t Love You’, ‘When You Say You Love Me’ and their collaboration with John Farnham ‘Every Time You Cry’.
Human Nature’s albums to date include Telling Everybody (1996), Counting Down (1998), Human Nature (2000), Walk The Tightrope (2004), Reach Out: The Motown Record (2005), Dancing in the Street: The Songs Of Motown II (2006), Get Ready (2007), A Symphony of Hits (2008), Vegas: Songs From Sin City (2010), The Christmas Album (2013) and Jukebox (2014).
In 2009 Human Nature took Las Vegas by storm with an unprecedented residency – a coup for an Australian act. Word spread quickly regarding the boys’ prowess and their “Motown Show” clocked up over 1300 performances during a six year period, earning plaudits from not only fans but from the great Motown icon and presenter of their debut Las Vegas residency show, Smokey Robinson. Human Nature “The Motown Show” was lauded by Trip Advisor as the #1 show not to be missed in Las Vegas during its incredible six year run.
In 2016, Human Nature re-signed to the prestigious Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino for a three-year residency at the famed Sands Showroom for a new show they’ve called Jukebox. The Jukebox concept takes its name from the Australian platinum selling album of the same name which is due for release in North America in 2016.
The original Jukebox album is a collection of ‘50s and ‘60s pop standards (together with an original song) produced by Dave Pierce & Executive Produced by Bob Rock. Jukebox closed 2014 as the No. 3 best–selling Australian album of the year with double platinum sales and a #2 ARIA chart position.
One of the world’s first ‘Boy Bands’, Human Nature’s biography is in their set list for the brand new show. “Some Americans that come to see our show have never heard of Human Nature before,” explains Mike. “We have to tell our story of how we got together when we were kids in high school, and what motivated us to stay together and why we’re who we are. We tell that through the music and use the ‘jukebox’ as our way to move through the music that’s inspired us.”
The Jukebox show is a playlist of not only the group’s influences, but the greatest vocal hits of all time. Jukebox sees the guys perform such classics as ‘Under The Boardwalk’, ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘Unchained Melody’. If you’re at a gig, expect to hear the likes of ‘I Want It That Way’ (The Backstreet Boys) through to The Beatles’ ‘I Saw Her Standing There’. Human Nature’s Jukebox also explodes with the Motown hits Human Nature famously reinterpreted during their acclaimed Las Vegas Motown Show. A night at the Jukebox is liable to include anything from ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ and ‘Dancing In The Street’, to the soul of ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ or Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Dance To The Music’. It’s a journey that carries through to ‘All About That Bass’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’.
“Vegas is obviously a massive part of our career,” continues Toby. “It’s now more than a quarter of our career that we’ve been over here, which blows my mind, because it doesn’t feel like that long. It’s been really amazing for us as performers to be in a place like Vegas and still be able to dedicate time for our Australian fans and make sure that they don’t forget about us!
“I think as artists, to be in a place like Vegas, well … we’ve grown a lot in the time we’ve been here. You are exposed to so many different things, and you’re in the mix of all these incredible entertainers. You’ve really got to stay on your game and try and work the city out. You’ve got to try and understand it. I think it’s made us better performers, and I think we are working better together now than we ever have on an artistic and business level. You’re swimming with the big fish… you’ve got to make sure you stay afloat.”
Asking the boys to choose career highlights is hard: simply because there have been so many.
Standout moments in Human Nature’s career to date include performing to a global audience at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, opening for Michael Jackson and Celine Dion at concerts around the world and appearing on television in the USA on shows as varied as The Talk, Oprah, and Dancing With The Stars as well as their own PBS special: Human Nature Sings Motown.
“There’s been a few,” considers Phil when we chat. “The ones that really propelled us onto bigger and better things I think are things like getting our record deal with Sony Music Australia. That was a great thing, we were offered a deal when we didn’t have that much material at the time, but there was a belief in our talent. That was a massive moment for us.
“Being asked to sing at the Olympics – wow – to sing the anthem at the opening ceremony was pretty amazing. It felt like they wanted us to be a part of representing Australia to the rest of the world. That was a pretty amazing feeling to think ‘we’re part of this, showing (the world) what’s good about Australia’. That was pretty awesome.”
Looking back all of the band marvel at both how long they’ve been together, and also by how enthusiastic they are as a unit to reach new heights.
“This year (2016) is our 27th year together,” explains Andrew. “I think that’s a milestone that very few people can scoff at. That’s amazing to think the four of us have been doing this and loving this for that long, and we still want to get together and come up with ideas on how we can keep going, rather than show each other the door (laughs).”
“I guess that’s a real highlight for me, that so many years later we’re still enjoying it, we’re still great friends. We love each other like brothers, and we do look forward to the day we sit down in a room and say ‘Okay, what are we going to do next?’ It’s still a great, fresh relationship.”