Mint Royale carry on up the charts

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ON Monday morning local record company boss David Wood had a phone call confirming his band Mint Royale would be on Top of the Pops on Friday night.

The previous night David was celebrating as the group's latest track 'Sexiest Man in Jamaica' debuted on the UK singles charts at number 20.

It's not every day such things happen in Morecambe, and David said he and his small team at Faith and Hope Records, based at the Promenade Music shop on Marine Road, were "mega, mega pleased" with the dance track's chart position.

"It's amazing to think it was the 20th best selling single in the UK last week," he said. "When you consider there's major record labels like EMI and Sony who pour hundreds and thousands of pounds into singles, it's unbelievable what we've achieved.

"We knew when we got our mid-week sales figures we were above a lot of other records but by the end of the week we didn't have as many TV appearances as some other bands. So number 20 is fantastic."

David said he first knew the song had made the Top 20 when his label manager Amul Batra rang him while the number 21 song was being played on Sunday night's Radio One Chart Show.

"When Ash's song came on the radio Amul rang up going 'Yes! Yes!' and I knew then we were there," laughed David.

In addition to being the owner of Faith and Hope Records, David also had a major hands-on role to play in the success of 'Sexiest Man in Jamaica'.

He personally handles Mint Royale's commercial affairs in both the UK and worldwide, dealing with radio stations - including Radio One which has given 'Sexiest Man in Jamaica' huge backing and airplay - music TV channels, the press, record shops and even other record companies overseas.

He said Mint Royale's music has been released in America on the MCA label, which also handles Shaggy and Mary J Blige.

"There's only five or six people in Faith and Hope so everybody has to muck in," he said.

"To co-ordinate a record is a huge thing.

"People think you just send a few copies out to Radio One and send a press release or two to NME but you've also got to deal with the manufacturers and the distributors, and even get it racked up in Asda and Woolworth's. It's a big job."


David, who is also the owner of Promenade Music, formed Faith and Hope Records in 1997 with Neil Claxton, a Morecambe-born record producer and recording artist who is also one half of Mint Royale.

They met when Neil, who now lives and records his music in Manchester, attended music classes at Promenade Music where David was teaching.

Neil's previous producing credits include working with East 17 and on Urban Cookie Collective's 1993 smash 'The Key - The Secret', as well as making music with Mint Royale colleague Chris Baker for the Tom Cruise movie 'Vanilla Sky'.

David said Neil was also "very pleased" at the success of the single, and is busy this week doing radio and TV interviews and preparing for a DJ-ing tour of venues in the UK and possibly Ibiza.

Although 'Sexiest Man in Jamaica', which features the vocals of ska legend Prince Buster, is not Mint Royale's highest charting single to date, David believes it represents a bigger achievement than their previous hits.

He said it proved Mint Royale could have a Top 20 record on the strength of their own name following previous hits in collaboration with Terrorvision ('Tequila'- number two in 1999) and Channel 4 presenter and vocalist Lauren Laverne ('Don't Falter' - number 15 in 2000).

Now David and Faith and Hope Records are full of confidence for the release of the Mint Royale album 'Dancehall Places' on Monday (September 9).

Then in November their next single 'Blue Song' will feature another strong local connection as lead vocals are provided by Steve Wren, who also works at Promenade Music. So maybe if Mint Royale can crack the Top 10 with their next hit then Morecambe will have even more reason to celebrate.

n LOOK out for a review of the Mint Royale album 'Dancehall Places' in next week's Visitor.