Album Preview: Blake (Universal Records)

Ex-choirboys take Facebook route to fame
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The classical boy-band Blake look like they have just stepped off the set of Brideshead Revisited. In July, they signed a million-pound, five-album deal with Universal. After chatting online on the networking site Facebook, the boys, who knew of each other but had never all met, got together in London a few months ago and sang at a house party, before contacting ex-Blue manager Daniel Glatman, who negotiated the deal after hearing their rendition of "Moon River".

Blake consists of four ex-choirboys: Ollie Baines, 24, Stephen Bowman, 25, Jules Knight, 25, and Dominic Tighe, 24. The self-titled debut album will be released in November, and is bursting with recognisable songs: "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", "Jerusalem", "Hallelujah", "In the Bleak Midwinter" and The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows", all recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

In August, they sang England's rugby World Cup anthem, "Swing Low", before the team's warm-up game against France. Their arrangement of the Gladiator theme, with lyrics from a Requiem Mass, so impressed the film composer Hans Zimmer that he asked them to sing on the soundtrack to The Da Vinci Code sequel, Angels and Demons.

"Forming a group to getting a record deal took two days," says Baines. Before joining the band, Baines was a boy chorister at Winchester Cathedral along with fellow band member Knight. He later won a place in the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, at 16. He has put his studies at the Guildhall School of Music on hold to pursue Blake. He says his favourite track on the album is the Gladiator theme. "It's a huge, anthem-type song that starts with this incredible choir and then seeps into the Gladiator music," he says.

Meanwhile, the group are pressing their shirts with starch and hanging suit jackets over their shoulders to get the preppie look. "We do hope to dress down a little. I'm not suggesting grunge by any means, but we don't want to wear suits and shirts all the time."

The album 'Blake' is out on 5 November on Universal

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