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NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Pentatonix's Mitch Grassi's in the mix

Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

Pentatonix rose to the top of the a cappella world after winning the television competition show The Sing-Off on NBC. The group consists of five members from Arlington, Texas,: Kirstie Maldonado, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola.
The PTXofficial YouTube page is not only a hit with subscribers, but two members of the group host a comedic web show, Superfruit.

The group's Christmas album That's Christmas to Me went platinum and was the highest charting holiday album by a group since 1962.

Together with music producer Ben Bram. they won a Grammy for Best Arrangement for a piece called Daft Punk.

Grassi is one of the openly gay members of the group, and Windy City caught up with him on the road by phone.

Windy City Times: How is the tour going so far?

Mitch Grassi: It is going really well. It is fairly laid-back. Our set is really short. The best part is we get to sing at the end of Kelly Clarkson's set for her song "Heartbeat Song." That might be a surprise, but it is spoiled now!

WCT: It is out in the world. I saw the Chicago Theatre appearance recently and that was the full Pentatonix experience.

MG: That was the hour and a half show.

WCT: Talk a bit about your fans.

MG: What is cool is that they are coming to all of these shows, too. I feel like they are the loudest fan base out in the crowd when we go out, which is awesome because we are still doing VIP meet and greets at these shows as well so we get to meet them.

WCT: How is touring with Kelly?

MG: She is so easygoing and nice. She makes sure everything is okay with us and the entire crew. She is just amazing to work with.

WCT: To go over your history a bit, legend has it that everyone is from Texas and got together over a contest.

MG: Correct. We were big Glee fans when it was on television in high school. We were in show choir. Scott, Kirstie, and I heard about this radio competition and it was for an a cappella group so we just formed a little trio. We sang "Telephone" by Lady Gaga and Beyonce. We sent the video in and didn't wind up winning but it was the start of Pentatonix. Everything just went from there…

WCT: I read you were an extra on an episode of Glee. Is that correct?

MG: Oh, yeah. That was fun. I got to wear a purple velvet. It was glam!

WCT: Did you have a favorite Glee character?

MG: I thought Britney the cheerleader was hilarious. She even did the Britney Spears episode where she was full out dancing. Damn, she was good!

WCT: How was it growing up in Texas and being gay?

MG: The only real challenge was trying to interact with everyone in Southern Baptist, masculine Texas. I clearly didn't fit in with the other guys. I just had vastly different interests. What made it much easier was that I was blessed with amazing parents and a family that was very supportive of me. Nothing severe happened. There were a few nasty words said about me from time to time but other than that I just did my own thing, thank goodness!

WCT: Fans are supportive out on tour as well?

MG: A hundred percent. We are all so diverse in Pentatonix. We promote independence and being yourself at our shows.

WCT: After winning a Grammy and having a platinum album, does it feel like a long time ago that you were on The Sing-Off?

MG: Yes; so much has happened and we are totally different people.

WCT: What have you learned since then?

MG: I have learned to say "yes" more than "no" because I am naturally a very hesitant cautious person. I have missed out on opportunities but I have learned to take advantage of everything I can do, if it is a good situation.

I also have learned work ethic as well. To keep pushing along and keep working even though you are bored or don't want to do it. It is important to keep doing what you are good at and putting out content. I feel like I learned that from Scott and Kevin from the group because they have some crazy work ethics.

WCT: Talk about Superfruit.

MG: That is a weekly thing I do with Scott. It is a nonsensical vlog channel. We do music and challenges. It is to showcase our personalities and our weird, goofy friendship chemistry that we have. People seem to really latch onto it. We love doing it.

WCT: How do you want fans to interact with you?

MG: Primarily on Twitter. I think we are all very active on there, especially me. I am looking at it every five minutes!

WCT: How many cities are you heading to?

MG: Like a million! Just kidding—it is 38 cities for this tour.

WCT: Do you have a favorite song to perform?

MG: I really like doing the Michael Jackson medley. That is something we added that we haven't done before for live audiences. Even people who don't know who we are can get into Michael Jackson. We do it all with our voices.

WCT: Are there Michael Jackson moves involved?

MG: Not from me. I'm not the most elegant with my body, but I am sure someone will bust out a dance move one of these days.

WCT: Where do you see a cappella music going in the future?

MG: It is hard to say. We obviously fit under that umbrella term because we just do music with our voices but I feel like we as a band are moving farther and farther away from traditional a cappella. I think traditional a cappella has longevity because of movies like Pitch Perfect and television shows like The Sing Off. It is fun and something the whole family can enjoy. I don't think it is something that will die down. People are creating their own groups. It is a really easy way to be creative because all you need is your voice.

WCT: Are you working on more music to release after the tour?

MG: Yes, we are working on a full length original album at the moment. We are utilizing every bit of spare time we have to work on it on tour. We are projecting that before the end of the year it will be out. Time is a little limited but we will make it work!

Pentatonix's official site is . Catch Grassi and the gang Aug. 1 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, at 7 p.m.