After struggling to deal with singer’s death
By SHIRLEY BROUN
AFTER 15 years as one of the Queensland Gold Coast’s leading and most in-demand show groups, Sex and Chocolate is about to launch an exciting new chapter which includes two new members and an exciting and fresh new repertoire of songs.
“We have also changed the name slightly and will be known as Sex and Chocolate 2.0,” said founding member Paul Thompson who will be leading the group into a new era.
The new-look Sex and Chocolate is the result of a tumultuous and heart-breaking period which was sparked by the untimely death of the group’s popular vocalist Tony Williams, who was murdered in his Gold Coast home in December 2011. His death plunged his Sex and Chocolate co-founders Kevin Kelly Keepa and Paul Thompson into what they described as `a dark place’.
“We were working on the Friday night but Tony didn’t turn up. I had driven past his house twice that day but for some reason I was in a rush and didn’t stop as I would normally have done,” said Paul reflecting on the event that changed his life forever.
“When we finished the gig and he still hadn’t shown up I drove to his house. I saw his car in the driveway and the lights were off. I went to the window and looked in but couldn’t see him. I thought he must have been asleep so I went home. The next day on Christmas Eve Kevin went over to check on him and that’s when he found his body.”
We both hit a dark place
Paul took a deep breath as the emotions began to take hold once again. “It was such a shock, we both hit a dark spot … and we couldn’t get out of that dark place,” he said. “Personally, I struggled with everything. I couldn’t get into my work and the pressure really got to me. Kevin did a few gigs but it all finally got to him too and he stepped down from the group last month.”
After Tony’s death Paul and Kevin flew back to his home town of Tauranga on New Zealand’s north island to bury him. “ It was a huge funeral. And, it was raining that day … even the heavens were crying.”
Paul, Kevin and Tony had enjoyed a long association. “I met Kevin in 1990 and Tony in 1996 after which Tony became the sound man for our group which at the time was Chur Bro. I didn’t realise he could sing then but I knew he had a passion for surfing, and some skills on the guitar.
The birth of Sex and Chocolate
Paul and Tony eventually left Chur Bro followed by Kevin a few weeks later and the trio soon teamed up to form what is now regarded as one of the finest R&B and Motown groups, based on the Gold Coast.
And if you were wondering about how Sex and Chocolate, formed in 1998, got its name, Paul tells it like this: “We wanted an image that would portray a sexy, fresh sound. Our original name was TRU, which stood for `The Rest of Us’.
“Then one day we were approached by the manager of the Watermark Hotel who loved our show but thought the group’s name wasn’t marketable and he was right. So he came up with Sex and Chocolate by approaching females in his offices and asked for suggestions for three sexy young Maori boys … and the rest is history.”
X Factor finalists
Viewers of Australia’s X Factor may remember seeing the original Sex and Chocolate line-up plus guest vocalist Hayes Loau as entrants on the show back in 2011. “We thought appearing on the X Factor could boost our recognition nationally and give our group a new sense of purpose and direction,” said Paul. “We made the top 12 but missed out on the home visits.”
Today, after making it through such a `dark’ chapter in their lives, Sex and Chocolate is set for a `rebirth’ and an exciting new chapter, which may also include a debut album. “We never thought to make an album before but it is probably time to spread our wings,” said Paul.
Exciting new sound
The new-look Sex and Chocolate 2.0 will feature an exciting new sound and slick performances from original member Paul Thompson, 43, and newcomers Luis Tapiki, 26, and Kalvin Vaega, 38. “It is really important to me to keep the name alive and present a top show that is as relevant to our long, established fans as to the new generation coming up. And I think they are going to love the new sound we are introducing to the show. This is an exciting new era for Sex and Chocolate,” said Paul.
He said the group will also continue to meet their national and international gigs where their talents are in big demand. But, he added, there is one thing for sure: “We’ve added the `2.0’ to the new group name because the original `Sex and Chocolate’ will always be just me, Kevin and Tony … and nothing will ever change that!” said Paul.
You can see the fabulous new Sex and Chocolate 2.0 at Easts Broadbeach’s Girls Night Out on Thursday, August 22.Tweet