Ultra (boy band)

Ultra (boy band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = Ultra

Img_capt =
Background = group_or_band
Birth_name =
Alias =
Born =
Died =
Origin = England
Instrument =
Genre = Pop
Occupation =
Years_active = 1998 - 2001
2005 - Present
Label =
Associated_acts =
URL = http://www.officialultra.co.uk/
Current_members = James Hearn
Michael Harwood
Jon O'Mahony
Nick Keynes
Past_members =

Ultra (also recording as Rider) is an English male pop band, which was most successful in the late 1990s. The original line-up consisted of James Hearn b. 19 June 1976 (vocals), Michael Harwood b. 12 December 1975 (Guitar) Jon O'Mahony b. 10 August 1973 (Drums), and Nick Keynes b. 3 May 1972 (bass)

Musical history

Although sometimes mistakenly described as a manufactured boyband, Ultra was originally formed by James Hearn and Michael Harwood who were schoolfriends from Buckinghamshire, England and class mates at the University of Leeds in the mid 1990s. They joined with Jon O'Mahony, who was a couple of years older and attended the same university. After they graduated they formed a band which they eventually called Ultra (named after the Depeche Mode album), after playing under a number of different names, including Stepping Stoned, Decade and Suburban Surfers. The following year Nick Keynes joined as bass player.

Chart success

Their demo tape eventually came to the attention of Ian Stanley (ex-Tears for Fears) and they were signed to Warner's EastWest label. In 1998 they released their first single, "Say You Do", co-written by band members, which reached #11 in the UK. Their next single, "Say it Once", only charted at #16 in the UK, but became a #1 hit in Italy. Over the next two years they had several singles in the UK, Italian and Spanish top 20, and in 1999, their debut album, "Ultra", entered the UK top 40 at #37.

The band were very popular with young female audiences, although they insisted that their success came primarily from their songs, not their looks. Ultra performed live and also supported a number of other pop acts including Irish boyband Boyzone in 1997, former Eternal member Louise Nurding for a performance at Wembley, and boyband 911. They were particularly popular in South East Asia and Italy, where they were mobbed by 3000 teenage girls at a record signing in Milan.

Band split

Despite selling over a million records worldwide, the band lost their contract before recording their second album, as their record company was in financial difficulties. They were offered several deals from other record companies after leaving Warners, but nothing suitable materialised. The band split up in 2001 after James Hearn became disillusioned with the music business and decided to leave. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph James said of his time in Ultra: "My music career was great fun and, as a bunch of guys who got together at Leeds University to give the musical bigtime a go, we had a good time." [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2004/10/22/ccdiary22.xml]

Formation of Rider and subsequent careers

The other band members formed a new group with a number of different short term vocalists including Ryan Molloy. Singers Alistair Griffin and James Fox were both briefly members of the band at different times, although they never met.

In 2002 several members of Ultra wrote and recorded a song to celebrate the World Cup, called "Football Crazy", which they recorded as a one-off project as 'Rider' with Terry Venables. This reached number 46 in the UK chart and has since been featured on a number of football-themed compilation albums.

O'Mahony, Harwood and Keynes then set up a music production company, Goldust, writing and producing for other artists such as Bryan Adams, Kylie Minogue, Natasha Bedingfield, Phixx and Liberty X. They have also written music for movies, with title tracks on the Andy Garcia movie Modigliani, and The Magic Roundabout.

James Hearn initially left the music business to work as a property surveyor in Slough but in 2004 he returned to college. He continued to write and produce tracks for other artists.

Second album

In 2005 the four original members of the band reunited to write and record their second studio album, "The Sun Shines Brighter", which also features songs written by former member Alistair Griffin, (who provides guest vocals on one of the tracks). Producer credits on the album include Ian Stanley (who produced their first album), Claudio Guidetti (Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti), and Ash Howes (Texas, Blue). This was released on October 2, 2006 on the Goldust label.



Singles which entered the UK and European charts.

As Ultra

*Say You Do (April 1998, UK #11)
*Say It Once (July 1998,UK #16, Spain #6, Italy #1, AUS #4)
*The Right Time (October 1998, UK #28)
*Rescue Me (Jan 1999, UK #8)
*Blind To The Groove (July 1999 Spain #9)

As Rider (with Terry Venables)

*England Crazy (2002 UK #46)


* Ultra (Feb 1998, #37 UK)
* The Sun Shines Brighter (Oct 2006)


* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-perl/music/muze/index.pl?site=totp2&action=biography&artist_id=31265&rand=020 Entry in Muze Encyclopedia of Popular Music]
* [http://members.tripod.com/~Kerg/etc/ultra.html/ Interview with Nina Ti, 1998]
* [http://www.myspace.com/officialultrauk Ultra official Myspace]

External links

* [http://www.officialultra.co.uk/ Official Ultra - Official website]
* [http://www.goldustproductions.com/# Goldust Productions]
* [http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/ultrafanclub/ Ultrafanclub, unofficial fansite]
* [http://it.groups.yahoo.com/group/ultra-abiglove/ Ultra-abiglove, unofficial Italian fansite]
* [http://ultra.iwsm.org/ Ultra.iwsm, unofficial Italian fansite]

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