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Author Topic: Straight No Chaser a cappella group from Indiana covers JM  (Read 8700 times)
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« on: December 12, 2011, 09:31:03 am »

While too many bands have no good singers, Straight No Chaser has 10 great ones collectively traveling light with no band who will offer their heavenly harmonies from the heartland tonight at the Wiltern in L.A. and Sunday at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara. SNC will sing the same old songs with fervor, add some PG humor and sound better than everybody, which is pretty much what a cappella is all about.

Perhaps the first a cappella band was two cavemen grunting in a semblance of harmony. When a third man began hitting a rock with a stick there was the band. A cappella singers never advanced past the first option, and music fans are still glad to hear it.

With nothing to make it happen except their voices, the 10 guys in SNC started back at Indiana University in the '90s, singing for girls, food and girls. Reality kicked in shortly after graduation, until 2006 when one of the members took a 1998 video of "The 12 Days of Christmas" and put it on YouTube.

The video has been viewed more than 13 million times, and the 10 guys have quit their day jobs and were signed to Atlantic Records. A vested 10-percenter singer of swell songs, Dave Roberts discussed the latest during a recent phone interview.

Hey Dave, what's the latest in the band biz?

We're pretty busy, man. We don't have a whole lot of time to do anything else perform a show, get on the bus and head to the next venue.

How many guys in the band this week? A hundred? A cast of thousands?

We've got 10 guys; we've had 10 guys since we started in college.

So it's December evidently the band's favorite month.

Yeah make hay while the sun is shining.

Exactly. Why do Americans continue to go bonkers for Christmas music?

We don't know but we're certainly happy for it. This is a Christian-leaning nation, of course, so I know in my household, Christmas carols were always a large part of the holidays, and I think that is a tradition you find repeating itself all over the country. And for some reason, that spoof on "The 12 Days of Christmas" just resonated with people. I'm glad that it did I quit my job and now I'm doing this.

Well, all right then. And all this is because of a YouTube video that went viral?

Yeah, that's right. We started doing this in college, singing just for fun and for girls and maybe food probably both in a lot of cases. We left it at the university and went our separate ways. I was working for a bank in New York, and one of the guys, for the 10-year anniversary of the group, put some clips of one of our '98 concerts on YouTube and it got 7 or 8 million hits in just a couple of weeks. Next thing you know, Atlantic Records is calling us and here we are.

You had a real major in college?

Well, yeah, but I didn't pay much attention to it. I had the "real job" for a while, then went back to school and got an MBA in finance, which ended up being fortuitous because now I'm handling the finances for the group.

Is Bloomington a good music town?

Yeah. Indiana University has a really solid music school, and when we were there, we saw a lot of other schools particularly in the Big Ten and out east where they have so many a cappella groups on campus that they have an a cappella rush. Yet, here at Indiana with one of the best music schools in the country, there were no a cappella groups. So that was our goal: to create one of those a cappella traditions that other schools have and put our stamp on the university. We never imagined in our wildest dreams that we'd make a career out of it.

With 10 guys in the group, it's sometimes hard to get everyone to agree on what songs to record. "When there's a really good song we think we can do well, the cream sort of rises to the top," Dave Roberts says.
At one point, was there actually a national championship of a cappella?

There was a collegiate championship that we competed in; we came in second after performing in Carnegie Hall for the finals.

Since you're from Indiana, did you guys do any John Mellencamp songs?

We actually sang "Jack and Diane" for John Mellencamp on his birthday at his place just outside of Bloomington.

Why a cappella and not punk rock, folk or one of the many other musical possibilities?

The original intent was to create an a cappella presence at IU. There was a larger choir group on campus called the Singing Hoosiers and we were all members of that, and started doing a cappella shows on our own.

Is it the same 10 guys now?

We're not the same original 10 guys. Some of the guys had families and other obligations that they couldn't unwind from, but there's five of the original guys in this group and the other five are alumni.

And still ain't got no band, right?

Still ain't got no band, and we like to think of the name as a reference to what we do onstage just straight, no chaser.

Wow, last time I interviewed an a cappella group, I think, was the Persuasions from more than a decade ago.

Yeah, we've heard a lot of that, but we feel like there's a thirst for music that's not overproduced, and feel like what we're doing, as well as shows like ''Sing Off" and "Glee," are all part of the resurgence of this music.

How do you guys go about choosing songs?

We all have different vocal tastes, obviously, and that there's 10 of us doesn't help, but a lot of songs just sort of resonate with everybody. When there's a really good song we think we can do well, the cream sort of rises to the top.

And "Tainted Love," who knew?

For every song that we record or perform, I'd say we rearrange two or three songs, and not everything works. "Tainted Love" was one of those songs we figured was a good idea so we gave it a shot. The arrangement was strong and we perform it well and the audience reacts well.

What's the strangest gig you guys have had so far?

Oh, we've had a couple of strange ones, particularly when we were in college. Anytime anyone wanted us to sing, we'd do it. But since we've turned pro, the stranger gigs have been when we were starting up and we'd be doing a 100-seat bar venue in Pittsburgh with a stage that was for a small band and not for 10 guys. We'd be crowded on the stage trying to figure out how to make a show work.

What's next for you wonderful guys?

We're just riding this wave until it falls off. We have all kinds of stuff planned for next year we're incredibly busy and we've been busy for the last couple of years, so we're just praying for health and stamina. We've got some really loyal fans who keep bringing new people to the shows and we couldn't be more grateful for that, so we're just going to try to keep putting new music out there and pushing forward with the live show and the recordings. Hopefully, it's something we can turn into a long-term career for all of us.

One of the Crazy Ones...
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2011, 01:48:13 pm »

I think that is cool to sing for John's Birthday. Grin
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