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Warwick Rowers Would 'Love' to Record a Song With Elton John, Plus: Exclusive Holiday Photos & Playlist

Warwick Rowers 2016 calendar.
Angus Malcolm

Warwick Rowers.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — and the Warwick Rowers are here to provide a little more cheer!

The men’s rowing team at University of Warwick in Coventry, England, has grown in popularity over the past few years thanks to its annual naked pin-up calendar, photographed by Angus Malcolm. The club counts Kylie Minogue, Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry among its fans, and draws coverage from the likes of MTV, BuzzFeed and The New York Times.

We caught up with the Warwick Rowers' Tristan Edwards to chat about the team's hope of recording a charity single (with Elton John!), which Disclosure track is the perfect “psych-up song” before a race and how Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much” became the team's song. Plus, Edwards and his teammates share some exclusive cheeky holiday-themed photos and a special Spotify playlist (scroll down to the bottom of this story to hear the selections).

The Warwick Rowers launched its first naked calendar in 2009 as a creative way to help fund the team's sport. Back then, “Our boats were dilapidated and we had no way of repairing them. We started the calendar as a way of literally keeping the club afloat,” the team says in a statement. The calendar soon became a commercially successful and award-winning endeavor, which “transformed the club.”

As the years went by, the team’s popularity grew — as did its range of products, viral videos and charitable endeavors. In 2013, the team started the Sport Allies charity, which receives 10 percent of all profits from the Warwick Rowers’ products. The charity’s mission is to challenge homophobia and promote diversity both in and through sport.

Speaking of charity, the 20-year-old Edwards — who also doubles as the team’s publicity and social media coordinator — says they would “love to do a Christmas (benefit) single… perhaps something along the lines of ‘Equality Christmas,’” adding that “Elton John is my first choice.”

In fact, Edwards — who has been playing drums since he was a child — grew up in a very musical family and has a keen interest in a wide range of music. Many of his personal selections populate the Warwick Rowers’ Billboard Spotify playlist, including cuts from Stevie Wonder (Edwards says he's “a true genius”), Led Zeppelin (“the world’s greatest rock band”), Joni Mitchell, Snarky Puppy and Robert Glasper.

Also on the list are artists and songs suggested by the team as a whole, including Justin Timberlake and The Police. (Sting briefly attended the university.) The Flume remix of Disclosure’s “You & Me” is cited by the club as the “perfect psych-up song before a race.” Meanwhile, Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much” amusingly became the team song last year after “a team member somehow managed to gain the nickname ‘Shania,’ and from there it sort of took off,” says Edwards.

“I’d love to work in the music industry in the future, be it performance or management,” Edwards says. “In an ideal world I’d love to work for someone like Blue Note Records, being able to merge my love for music and the professional skills I gain from my graduate job.”

Edwards notes that the team has “a lot of members who have dabbled in some form of music performance in the past, as rowing requires a good sense of rhythm, I’m not surprised by this. Zach (Wills, from the 2016 calendar) was signed to a label before he came to University, and I think he’d still love a career in music.”

The Warwick Rowers’ complete line of products — including calendars, books, prints, videos and clothing — can be found at warwickrowers.org. In addition, they recently debuted a range of gift certificates that are delivered instantly to the purchaser.  

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