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Pentatonix plotting new album while touring with Kelly Clarkson

July 30, 2015 1:45 pm • By Kevin C. Johnson

Pentatonix has been doing very well for itself headlining — and selling out — small and medium-size venues such the Touhill Performing Arts Center, Peabody Opera House and Old Rock House.
But this summer, the a cappella quintet that won Season 3 of “The Sing-Off,” is heading in a different direction.

Pentatonix opens for Kelly Clarkson on her tour that comes this weekend to Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre.

“We have primarily done headlining shows, so this is a whole new ballgame for us,” says Mitch Grassi. “There’s a lot less pressure on us. Our set is so short, and we’re not the main focus.”

He says the opportunity to open for the first “American Idol” winner was a good one. “It’s always good to tour and keep that relevancy out there. And it’s a good lead-in to our album.”

Pentatonix hopes its new album, now in progress, will be out by year’s end. It will be another step toward establishing Pentatonix as a group that can handle original material as inventively as it handles covers.

The group’s rise has been built around its popular YouTube covers and its “Evolution of Music” video in which the group sums up decades of music in just a few minutes.

The latest is the “Evolution of Michael Jackson,” which followed “Evolution of Beyoncé.”

“We pick people we think have really made an impact on subculture and who are really iconic,” Grassi says. “We wanted to honor Michael for the anniversary of his death (on June 25).”

Transitioning into originals was tricky, but he says the group is saved by its fans who “always appreciate what we put out, thank goodness.”

Pentatonix is looking forward to letting the world know what its original sound is. Grassi describes it as organic, raw, relaxed and soulful. “It’ll be like what’s on the radio, with the Weeknd, Ariana Grande, DJ Mustard. We want to be able to compete with the big guys.”

Being an a cappella act does present some limitations for Pentatonix, including difficulty in translating to radio. “People don’t think it’s as full or as exciting,” Grassi says. “But if you hear it on the radio without any preconceived notions, (you’ll) enjoy it.”

Pentatonix has the advantage of being a YouTube favorite. A hit YouTube video is often all that’s needed to make a star.

But Grassi says “radio is just as crucial as YouTube. They’ve both garnered lots of successes. And you don’t have to do one or the other. We started on YouTube, and we’re still on YouTube.”