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Toby Allen

For other uses, see Human nature (disambiguation).

Template:Use Australian English

Human Nature
Also known as The Four Trax
Origin Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Genres Vocal group, Doo-wop, Motown, boy band, Pop
Years active 1989 (1989)–present
Labels Sony Music
Associated acts Smokey Robinson
Members Michael Tierney
Andrew Tierney
Toby Allen
Phil Burton

Human Nature is an Australian pop vocal group. They formed in 1989, originally as a doo-wop group called The Four Trax, while the members were schoolmates in Sydney. After signing with Sony Music and renaming themselves Human Nature, they released their debut album Telling Everybody in 1996, and have charted 17 hits in Australia's Top 40, and five hits in Australia's Top 10. Three of their albums have reached multi-platinum certification in Australia, and four have reached platinum, with sales of over 1.6 million records in Australia.[1] After transitioning from a boy band to a Motown tribute group, they have been performing on the Las Vegas Strip.


Early career: The Four Trax

Brothers Andrew and Mike Tierney teamed up with schoolmates Toby Allen and Phil Burton to represent Hurlstone Agricultural High School in a combined regional schools concert at the Bankstown Town Hall, held on 27 November 1989. Andrew Tierney was 15, with Allen and Burton in the same school year, and Mike Tierney was 12. All four members had choir backgrounds. The quartet called themselves The Four Trax (also stylized as "The 4 Trax" or "4Trax"), inspired by groups from the Motown era such as The Four Tops. In Bankstown, they sang The Penguins' hit "Earth Angel". Andrew Tierney said that was the only song they knew, but they were encouraged afterwards to listen to more Motown groups.[2][3]

After high school, Allen worked as a perfume salesman and studied accounting. Andrew Tierney studied physical therapy. Burton was studying to be a music teacher; he mentioned that he also once stacked beer for a living. Mike Tierney, the youngest member of the group, was still working on his Higher School Certificate. When not at work or at school, The Four Trax would do street performances, but after winning some "talent quest" competitions, they began singing professionally in clubs and built a following there.[4] The group sent demo recordings to record labels. On a visit to the office of Sony CEO, Denis Handlin,[5] they performed an a cappella version of "People Get Ready", and landed a contract with Sony Music Australia.[3][4][6]

The group felt "The Four Trax" name was dated, so they brainstormed some alternatives. Most combinations involved the words "human" and "nature", until Mike Tierney suggested connecting the two. Allen said, "At first we thought it was probably a bit obvious, because it's such a well-used term, but then the more we lived with that we realized that it suited us. We were singing a cappella at the time, and it represented what we were about: Singing was our human nature."[2]

Telling Everybody: 1996-1997

On 1 March 1996, Human Nature released their first single "Got It Goin' On".[7] It reached #19 on the Aria charts.[8] They followed up with "Telling Everybody" in July, and "Wishes" on 27 September, which charted as high as #6 and gave them their first platinum single.[8][9]

On 2 December 1996, they released their debut album, Telling Everybody. The album includes the singles "Don't Say Goodbye", "Whisper Your Name", and "People Get Ready".[8][10] The album eventually achieved triple-platinum status in 1997,[11] and is considered one of the biggest Australian artist debut successes of all time.[6] Paul Begaud, the album's producer, received a nomination at the ARIA Music Awards of 1998 for Producer of the Year for "Whisper Your Name".[12]

Human Nature garnered attention from pop artists Michael Jackson and Celine Dion. Jackson had them as one of his opening acts for his HIStory tour in Australia, and continued to have them open in Europe through September.[13] The group sang at venues numbering over 100,000 people,[14] and at Wembley Stadium for three nights.[6] In an interview with Radar Online, Andrew Tierney remarked that touring with Jackson was an incredible break for them: "We learned so much from seeing him perform that many times and experienced things that have shaped us into the entertainers we are today. He was the ultimate artist and so inspiring."[13] Celine Dion, who had them open for her Australia concert on 18 March 1996,had them as an opening act for her Falling Into You... Around the World tour in Australia and Europe. The group visited Ireland, England, France, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland in June 1997, and visited China and Japan for Dion's next tour, Let's Talk About Love, in 1998.[15]

In October 1997, Human Nature held their own national concert tour.[6]

Counting Down: 1998-1999

Human Nature joined singer John Farnham to record the single "Every Time You Cry", which peaked at #3, and stayed 15 weeks on the Australian charts.[16] The song also received a nomination for the ARIA Music Awards of 1998 for Highest Selling Single.[12] They later performed with Farnham on his "I Can't Believe He's 50" tour in April–May 1999.[17]

Counting Down, released on 25 May 1998, consisted of recording sessions in Sydney, London, and Los Angeles, and involved the production team from the first album, along with international songwriters and producers. It debuted at number one on the ARIA charts. Five of its singles reached gold status in Australia: "Last To Know", "Don't Cry", "Cruel", "Be There With You" and "Eternal Flame", the last of which was a cover of the 1989 hit by The Bangles.

Human Nature appeared in an Australian concert tour of symphonic versions of Beatles songs conducted by Sir George Martin. They also appeared in a stage versions of Grease[18] and Happy Days: The Arena Mega-Musical, the latter of which they played a vocal group called The Naturals.[8][19][20]

Self-titled and greatest hits albums: 2000-2003

Human Nature's third album was an eponymous title released in 2000. It was recorded in Sydney, London, Stockholm, Los Angeles and New York and featured a songwriting session with Gary Barlow of Take That. It marked a change in style for the group, from the previous smooth R&B/pop sound, to a more upbeat, electronic sound, similar to contemporary group 'N Sync. Its lead single, "He Don't Love You", reached the Top 20 in the UK Singles Chart[21] and also became the second best selling Australasian single in Australia for that year.

On 15 September, Human Nature performed the Australian National Anthem at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics with singer Julie Anthony and musician James Morrison. In November, they made a guest appearance on the Australian soap opera Neighbours, where they sang "He Don't Love You" at Erinsborough High's debutant ball, and "Wishes" a cappella at the ball's after party.

On 16 November 2001, Human Nature released their greatest hits album, Here & Now: The Best of Human Nature, featuring 17 tracks, 3 of which have not been on previous albums. Their single, "Always Be With You", was a popular song in Australia,[6] and its related video featured comic character Guido Hatzis.[22]

From August 2002 to early 2003, Allen put on temporary tattoos and dyed black hair to play a role in a major production of the musical Cabaret; his portrayal of the Emcee is a stark contrast to the "clean-cut" image associated with the group.[23] Allen won a Helpmann Award for his performance.[24] On 25 June 2003, Human Nature sang the national anthem at Game 2 of the Rugby League State of Origin at Stadium Australia.[25]

Walk the Tightrope and Motown cover albums: 2004-2007

Human Nature released their fourth studio album, Walk the Tightrope, on 26 April 2004.[26] Andrew Tierney stated, "With this record, we wanted to take a bit of a chance, do things we haven't done before. Break the Human Nature mould".[26] Its first single "When You Say You Love Me", written by Darren Hayes, formerly of Savage Garden, charted in the Top 10 in Australia.[27][28] The song, "Love Is Blind", written by the Bee Gees, had never been recorded and released until then.[29][30] The album also features a reworking of "Guilty (One in a Million)" by Barry Gibb and Barbra Streisand,[30] and a cover of "To Be With You", a 1992 hit by glam metal band Mr. Big.

In May 2005, Allen participated in another musical, playing Kenickie in Grease The Arena Spectacular.[31]

For their fifth studio album, Human Nature focused on Motown covers, releasing Reach Out: The Motown Record on 7 November 2005.[32] Burton commented, "We've gone through the Telling Everybody and the boy band phase - as you said - but now we're showing everyone how we got to where we are and that's by listening to this type of music. It really kind of suits us in a way." The album debuted at #6,[33] but soon reached number one on the ARIA Album Chart.[34] It also reached 6x Platinum certification in 2007.[35] In 2006, they toured extensively around Australia on The Motown Show theatre tour with special guest Doug Parkinson.

Members Burton and Allen both starred as contestants in reality TV shows: Burton in the second season of Nine Network's Celebrity Overhaul and Allen on Channel 7's Dancing With The Stars. Burton and Allen also appeared on the 19 March 2006 episode of Channel 10's Australia's Brainiest where they competed for the title of Australia's Brainiest Musician: Burton won the contest, and Allen was a runner-up.[36]

On 29 October 2006, Human Nature won the ARIA Award for Highest Selling Album. It was their first win at the ARIA Awards after having been nominated 15 times in their 18 years together.[37] Andrew Tierney jokingly commented that they were the "John Wood" of the ARIAs.[need quotation to verify]

With the success of "Reach Out", Human Nature continued with the Motown theme by releasing their sixth studio album, Dancing in the Street: the Songs of Motown II, on 13 October 2006. "Dancing" debuted at number three on the ARIA Album Chart. and was nominated for 2007 Best Selling Album at the ARIA Awards.[38] It was also certified 3x Platinum for 2006.[39] They followed the album with an arena tour with Paulini and the Naturelles.[40]

On 24 November 2007, Human Nature released their third Motown-themed album, Get Ready, which featured appearances by several original Motown artists including Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, and The Temptations. Robinson flew to Australia for the release, and performed with the group on Dancing With The Stars and Sunrise. The album also hit number one on the ARIA Albums Chart. Their three Motown-themed albums have sold close to a million copies in Australia.

American breakthrough: 2008-present

In 2008, Human Nature performed for the first time in the United States, with a two-month engagement at Atlantic City's Tropicana Casino. In April, they performed with The Supremes' Mary Wilson on the television show It Takes Two, where they sang two duets from their Get Ready album: "It Takes Two" and "River Deep, Mountain High".

Human Nature teamed up with their previous producer Eliot Kennedy to record an album with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. A Symphony Of Hits was released on 10 November 2008, and was followed in early December by three performances at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. When they toured other cities in Australia, they invited local orchestras to perform, including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Melbourne, and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Perth.[41]

In May 2009, Human Nature became the first Australian group to have a resident act on the Las Vegas Strip when they began a year-long engagement at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino. Robinson was present at the premiere of "Smokey Robinson Presents: Human Nature", and commented to celebrity reporter Robin Leach that "They were bigger than The Beatles in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. I’ve never met four harder working, finely tuned singers. They are set to become major stars here now, and I’m proud to present them in Vegas."[42] On 12 December, they returned to Australia for a homecoming show with Robinson and Jessica Mauboy at the Wyndham Estate winery in Hunter Region, New South Wales.[43]

In May 2010, Human Nature announced that the Imperial Palace had extended their engagement two years, and had also renamed their venue the "Human Nature Theatre". Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman also decreed that 11 May 2010 to be known as "Human Nature Day".[44]

Human Nature released their ninth studio album, Vegas: Songs from Sin City, in November. "Vegas" features many classic songs that are either about Las Vegas or have been performed by Las Vegas headliners past and present. It includes a duet with current Vegas headliner Barry Manilow. On 27 November, they performed two Elvis Presley covers "A Little Less Conversation" and "Viva Las Vegas", complete with Vegas showgirls, on the final Hey Hey It's Saturday show. They received a presentation award which coincided with their 21st anniversary of performing.

In December 2010, Human Nature embarked on the Direct from Las Vegas! Australian Symphony Tour where they would visit a capital city and play with the associated state symphony orchestra. They worked with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and also, for the first the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.[45][46]

In celebration of their 500th show at the Imperial Theatre on 30 June 2011,[47] Human Nature recorded a full-length PBS concert special called Human Nature Sings Motown with Special Guest Smokey Robinson at the Paris Theatre at Paris Las Vegas on 6–7 July.[48] The special was produced by Ken Ehrlich, and was broadcast on December 2011 on 85% of the country's PBS stations. Andrew Tierney comments in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "Basically, ever since we started working in Vegas, everyone was telling us we should do a PBS special." and that "We'd like more people when they arrive in Vegas to have heard of Human Nature."[48][49]

On 6 March 2012, Human Nature released the DVD of the PBS concert,[49] and also their first U.S. album, The Motown Record, featuring more Motown classics.[48] Allen commented in the Detroit Free Press, "Everybody loves (Motown), which is testament to what it achieved. As Berry Gordy would say, they didn't seek to make just black music -- they wanted to make music for everybody. I look out at our shows, and it's people from all over the world, all genders and ages. It's pretty remarkable." and that "to have (Smokey Robinson) get involved so heavily with what we were doing was such a big justification for us, that we were doing something OK with this music and not ruining it."[50] The album reached number 120 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, but reached number one on the Motown Chart, and number one on the Billboard Heat-Seeker Chart.[48] The releases were followed by a 34-city tour to raise money for PBS affiliates and to raise awareness of the group in America.[49] Their first stop, on 24 March, was at Detroit, Michigan, the original home of Motown, at the Fisher Theatre.[50] They were also featured musical guests on the 23 April broadcast of the American ABC's Dancing With The Stars, alongside several Motown greats, including Robinson, Martha Reeves and The Temptations.[51] The tour included visits to Chicago, Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City.[52]

In December 2012, Human Nature embarked on a tour of Australia where they once again were able to team up with symphony orchestras around the country. They performed with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and also performed in Sydney and the Gold Coast with Philharmonia Australia.[53]

Human Nature signed a two-year deal with Venetian Hotel and Casino, and started residency in January 2013.[54] The group performs the Smokey Robinson presents Human Nature: The Motown Show five nights a week at the Sands Showroom.[55]

In November 2013, Human Nature will release a new album titled 'The Christmas Album' '[56] and will promote the album with a 10-date Australian tour in December.[57]

Band Members




External links

  • Human Nature web page
  • Human Nature Las Vegas show page from Imperial Palace
  • Allmusic Human Nature page
  • Perth Music Interview
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