When Kevin Simm first embarked on his music career, he used to belt out Goodnight Girl and Love is all Around to a small audience in Leyland.
Now the 38-year-old will be performing all of Wet Wet Wet’s hits as the band’s new frontman, joining bass player and writer Graeme Clark, drummer Tommy Cunningham and keyboard player Neil Mitchell.
He is preparing for his first tour with the Scottish soft-rock band and will be playing at Preston Guild Hall on Tuesday, April 30.
Kevin, who grew up in Leyland, cannot believe his luck as he was head-hunted by the band following his win on BBC’s The Voice in 2016.
He says: “I sang Wet Wet Wet’s songs when I was doing pubs and clubs as a teenager.
“I was at Midge Hall, in Leyland, and my first couple of gigs were terrible. I learnt quite quickly that you should not drink when doing a gig, especially when I was 17.
I was a big fan of the band and it is a strange feeling to picture myself at 17 and 18 doing gigs in pubs and now I am doing gigs with these guys. It’s crazy.Kevin Simm
“I was a big fan of the band and it is a strange feeling to picture myself at 17 and 18 doing gigs in pubs and now I am doing gigs with these guys. It’s crazy.”
It was Kevin’s rendition of Sia’s Chandelier during his blind auditions on The Voice that caught the band’s eye.
Tommy Cunningham recalls: “In mid-2017 Marti Pellow made a decision to concentrate on theatre work and he said he could no longer concentrate on the band. We accepted that and looked at a way forward.
“We looked at finding someone to fill that spot, never realising how few people with a world class voice are out there. We spent a couple of months getting singers from our area into a room and realised the quality we required was not available.
“That’s when Kevin was flagged up, because of his performance of Chandelier on The Voice.
“So we got in touch.”
Kevin can still replay the moment he received an email from the band’s management which would kick-start his career.
He says: “I was out playing football with my little boy and I checked my email and saw one from our manager Dougie (Souness) asking for a chat.
“I was intrigued. I thought they may have needed a backing singer or a support artist, so I was quite surprised about turning up to be the new lead singer. I was excited and shocked at the same time.
“I met Graeme (Clark) at his house and had a chat. I sang acoustically and we agreed a date to meet the rest of the gang: Tommy, Neil and Dougie.
“I went to Glasgow and sang in the studio. On my way home, I had a call from Dougie, asking if I would join the band.”
Tommy adds: “Kevin stood out so much from everyone else.
“He is a fighter. He walked into a room with a bunch of older Glaswegian and Scots who have been together a long time and delivered the songs. That’s when we knew we had found the right guy to fill the spot.
“The next challenge was to introduce Kevin to our fans.
“Some fans were happy we were continuing, but others still doubted us. The only way was to go on a small stage in Glasgow and people saw how it did work.
“We are now embarking on a tour around the country.
“We are proud to be moving forward and want to show off Kevin and tell people to check this guy out.
“We will be doing a couple of things in the summer to re-establish ourselves and make sure everyone knows what we are about.
“We want to play continuously for 52 weeks, playing iconic songs. We can’t wait to get on stage.”
The band is hoping Kevin will rejuvenate their sound and when the time is right, they would be open to producing new material.
Tommy admits: “We had become quite complacent and resigned to being a band of the 1980s and 1990s, never changing the running order, delivering the same night after night.
“But now, Kevin is bringing a new-found energy to the band.
“He is singing a few extra tracks we were not used to. He is excited on stage, which is great and works really well with us.”
Kevin adds: “We are working on some stuff, chucking a few ideas around and having a jam. It is not a case of going into the studio and writing a whole album. That is a big risk. Wet Wet Wet has an amazing back catalogue and I can’t believe how many good songs there are.”
Kevin, a former Runshaw College student, first became a well known name after forming Liberty X through ITV talent show Popstars, in 2001.
The band, which also featured Jessica Taylor, from Penwortham, stopped performing in 2007 and reformed briefly in 2012 for The Big Reunion tour.
Keen to make a name for himself away from the band, he auditioned for The Voice in 2016.
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He adds: “I have fond memories of Liberty X and I love those guys. But I don’t think it was really me.
“I enjoyed my time, but I was never really comfortable with the dance routines and the pop side of things.
“I was stuck to a formula, especially with a band full of singers. You could only sing a few lines, where I prefer to deliver the whole song.
“My ideal route is to front a band. I have always enjoyed playing with live musicians and having freedom to go to different places.
“I know the girls (Jessica, Michelle Heaton and Kelli Young) have been doing stuff as a three-piece and are enjoying it.
“But for me and former bandmate Tony Lundon, we have got to the age where we feel stupid dancing on stage.”
Kevin, who is married to Laura and has two sons, admits he enjoyed working on The Voice with mentor Ricky Wilson, but didn’t know where to go next after his win.
He says: “I didn’t get a lot of support afterwards as the brand moved to ITV and the BBC washed their hands of me.
“But you have to look at it in a way that the guys would not have seen me had I not been on the show.
“Everything happens for a reason and it was a brilliant experience. My expectations were exceeded and it has led to this incredible journey. Ricky Wilson and I still have respect for each other, He messaged me when he found out I had joined Wet Wet Wet, which was nice, and we text each other to say Merry Christmas.”
Kevin admits he is really excited about embarking on his first tour as the band’s frontman, and is looking forward to performing in Preston – just a stone’s throw from where his journey began.
He adds: “It is great to perform so close to home. Previously the closest I got was Manchester.”
The band, which has an amazing back catalogue of songs including three number ones: Help From My Friends; Goodnight Girl; and Love Is All Around, are now inviting fans to join them in a special VIP experience.
The Wet Wet Wet VIP Sound Check Experience allows exclusive access to the band’s sound check; an opportunity to take a photo with you and the band; a commemorative Wet Wet Wet VIP sound check laminated pass and lanyard; exclusive Wet Wet Wet tote bag; and a tour programme hand signed by the band.
Tickets for this are from £55. Standard tickets to the show start from £27. All tickets can be bought via www.prestonguildhall.co.uk, or by calling 01772 804444.
They are also performing at the Lytham Festival, on Saturday, July 13. For tickets visit www.lythamfestival.com/events/