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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
A cappella band Pentatonix bringing strong vocals to Chicago
By ERIC SCHELKOPF
With more than 50 million YouTube views, a cappella band Pentatonix is helping bring vocal groups to a new level of popularity.
Pentatonix, which emerged as the winner of season three of "The Sing-Off," will perform March 2 at the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $24, available at www.jamusa.com.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Pentatonix member Mitch Grassi about the upcoming show.
Q - Great talking to you. How has the tour been going?
The tour has been going
so well! We're having an amazing time performing every night and meeting
all the great fans.
We really didn't! We were very unsure of the response we would get out on tour, but we are so glad it's positive.
Q - Of course, you guys
were named the winners of season three of "The Sing-Off"
Were you pretty confident of your chances to win it all? What did
you think of your competition? What was the biggest thing that the
group learned from that experience?
We actually weren't, ha
ha ha. Every week right before we would perform, we would psyche ourselves
out and be like, "We're going home, we're going home!" Our
competition was all exceptionally talented!
Q - I understand that 24 hours before the audition for "The Sing-Off," you still hadn't all officially met. Looking back, do you wish you had more time to prepare? Why do you think your voices blend well together?
It couldn't have hurt to have had more time! But we pulled it together in a short amount of time, which I think speaks volumes about us.
Kirstie, Scott, and I have been singing together since high school, so we've really gotten to know each other's vocal habits. We sort of mimic each other's placement and vowels while we sing together, which makes for a fuller sound.
Q - The group has become
well-known for some of its covers. How do you choose what songs you
want to cover and what do you try to do with those songs? What should
people expect from your new EP?
Typically, we will choose songs off of the top charts, or songs that are currently blowing up. We like to give well-known, popular songs a whole new spin and do something totally different with them.
People should expect a lot more original material for "PTX Vol 2." We are writing like crazy while on tour right now!
Q - Why do you think there
is such an interest in a cappella groups? What are the additional
musical challenges of being an a cappella group?
I think people nowadays are looking for a more organic sound in music. You turn on the radio and 95% of what you hear is auto-tuned, "wall-of-sound" -ish music that's been dumbed down so that virtually everyone can listen to it without having to think about or focus on it.
With a cappella, you have
5 or more complex parts to listen to, and to top it all off, they're
all being produced with the human voice! Also, you typically have
to be a strong singer in a cappella, because the voice is the foundation
of the music you make. With radio-friendly pop songs, you don't necessarily
have to be a good singer - the technology "sings" for you.
Q - The movie "Pitch
Perfect" presented a sometimes humorous look at a cappella group
competition. Was the movie true to life at all?
In some ways, it is. A
cappella can be fairly dramatic and extremely competitive. However,
a girl doesn't become a bass if she acquires vocal nodules. ;)
We will definitely be touring more. I think we are still trying to figure out our original sound, as well, which I'm totally stoked for! I think it's time the world hears what we're really capable of.