Human Nature: Livin’ La Motown in Las Vegas

10 April 2015

While the Human Nature guys come home to Australia every now and then, they’re pretty much locals in Las Vegas these days, uncovering the best of Nevada.

We recently chatted on the phone to Michael Tierney, one part of the quartet while he was out and about in Las Vegas.

 The lads exploring Southern Nevada

 

“We’ve been in Las Vegas now for nearly six years, we know the place quite well. But it always feels like home coming back to Sydney. We’re enjoying life here, and making the most of the opportunity while it’s here. It’s great to be performing on the Vegas strip, it’s a fantastic gig,” says Michael.

The former mayor of Las Vegas made 11 May 2010 ‘Human Nature Day’ – is it now an official day every year in Las Vegas?

[Laughs] it was just that one day that one year, I don’t think it carried on. It was a bit of a publicity stunt, we were negotiating our contract at the room we where playing in Vegas at the time. Unfortunately, that day doesn’t come round each year.

How did Vegas start for you guys?

After we did the Motown record in Australia, we did a tour and a guy who saw our show was keen to bring it to Vegas. There was talk of it for a couple of years and we were waiting for a room to become available – it’s highly sought after to get a room to play in Las Vegas, then an opportunity came up and we decided to give it a shot. The rest is history and six years later we’re still going strong.

 Channeling that sixties 'cool'

 

Motown legend Smoky Robinson approached you to do the Motown Show – pretty cool for a bunch of guys from Sydney?

Yes, Smoky produces the show in Vegas. We did a duet with him on a record we made and we got him along to see one of our shows. He became a friend of ours and a great supporter of our music. He agreed to put his name on the show, and to have his name on a Motown show is a really big thing – he’s known as the ‘King of Motown’ here in America.

Who is someone you’ve been most star-struck by in your time in showbiz?

Stevie Wonder. We did a special benefit one night for Smoky that we sang at. At the end of the night Stevie Wonder came out as a surprise and he got everyone back out on stage, so there we were standing on stage with Smokey and Stevie Wonder, we had to pinch ourselves. It was pretty amazing.

What was it like to meet Oprah?

Yeah, we did her show when she came out to Australia and that was pretty cool.

What’s the weirdest fan mail you’ve received?

I think Andrew might have gotten the weirdest one – he was sent a t-shirt that had been printed with a photo collage of him and all sorts of photos of him and his family. To this day we’re not sure how they got the photos. Phil also received a vase in the shape of a penis [laughs], bit of an odd one!

 Did someone say 'Motown'?

 

Are you planning to stay in Las Vegas long-term?

Our contract at The Venetian has been extended this year, so we’ll stay for as long as we’ve got the gig. The great thing is we can still come back to Australia to visit and tour and see fans, friends and family.

You do a mix of covers and originals in your Motown show?

It’s mainly our take on Motown songs. We also tell our story of how the band got together and has been together for 25 years. We include a couple of our hits from back home too.

What is your favourite artist / song to cover?

On the JUKEBOX record we recorded last year we did some really amazing songs including a cover of ‘Stand By Me’ – when you get a chance to reapproach classic songs and do them in the way we’ve been able to do them, it’s really amazing. We worked with a great producer and added something different to these classics. ‘Stand By Me’ would be one of my all-time favourite songs.

 Checking out America's heartland

 

Where’s the best place to eat in Vegas that only a local would know about?

There’s a great little cafe about 20 minutes out from the strip called ‘Layers’ – the guy who owns it bakes all these amazing cookies and cakes – it’s more of a local place that tourists wouldn’t really know about, but it’s worth a visit.

When friends and family come to stay, where do you take them to show off Vegas?

The first place I always take guests is the Bellagio fountains – it never gets old. Also there’s the Bellagio conservatory and every season of the year they make an amazing indoor flower display to match the season – it’s something everyone is always bowled over by.

What do you do in your ‘down time’ in Las Vegas?

We’re always busy planning our tours or putting out a record, but when I have real time off I like to spend time with my family, I have a little 4-year-old girl, so playing with her and having fun. We also love to travel; my wife and I took our daughter to Paris last year. We like to try and get around and see as many places as we can. I love travel! That’s one of great things about being over here in Vegas; you’re pretty close to a lot of amazing places. Closer to Mexico for example and much closer than you are from Australia!

Where’s somewhere in the world you haven’t been yet that’s on your wish list?

I’ve never been to Spain actually. I’d love to go to Barcelona and Madrid and explore the country.

You’ve been out exploring Southern Nevada for Getaway. What’s your favourite Southern Nevadan spot close to Vegas?

My favourite (and definitely the scariest thing) was visiting the Valley of Fire – it’s pretty amazing out there – they’ve shot a lot of movie sequences out there such as the outside Mars scenes from Total Recall and some scenes from the 2007 movie Transformers. We did some pretty cool extreme sports out there. We rode around in 4WDs and raced around a track. I’d never been out there before, it’s an amazing place.

Lake Mead is really cool too. It was created as a man-made lake when they built Hoover Dam, it’s massive and great for water sports – it’s so surreal waterskiing in the middle of the desert – you’re on a lake in the middle of these grand desert mountains!

 More of that Nevada sun and stone

 

Tune into Channel Nine for Getaway on Saturday 18 April at 5.30pm and let Human Nature take you on an exclusive insider’s tour of their home-away-from-home in a special Getaway episode showcasing the band’s favourite destinations in Southern Nevada.

Get Las Vegas shopping tips from Michael’s brother, Andrew Tierney, and then join Toby Allen as he shows off one of his favourite local haunts, Fremont Street, where you can see the original neon signs from the early days of Las Vegas. You’ll also see the whole group cruising along the azure waters of Lake Mead on a houseboat.

Human Nature’s Australian JUKEBOX Tour: A 25 Year Anniversary Celebration kicks off in Melbourne on Thursday, 23 April. Call Ticketek to reserve your seats to shows in Melbourne, Hobart, Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast and Sydney.

Check out our exclusive 5-star 4 nights+ flights deal for The Venetian with tickets to Human Nature's Las Vegas show + Valley of Fire tour! Or our special 4-star 4 nights accommodation package in Las Vegas plus Hoover Dam & Lake Mead Cruise Tour! 

 

Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.