Straight No Chaser to twist at Stranahan TheaterWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Straight No Chaser is known for its cool a cappella amalgamations.
Consider the group’s take on Richard Gregory’s comic version of “The 12 Days of Christmas,” which includes snippets of “I Have a Little Dreidel” and Toto’s “Africa.”
It was a video of that song that went viral and landed the singers from Indiana University a recording contract and fans around the world.
“We had a reunion in 2006, our 10-year reunion for our college group. For that, one of the guys put up a bunch of our videos online really just for the 10 of us to kind of reminisce and see us performing back in the day in college, and one of them happened to be the ‘12 Days’ video,” said Walter Chase. “It took almost a year and a half, December 2007, for that to just go crazy.”
More than 7 million had watched the video as of Christmas 2007, the tenor said.
“It was New Year’s Day 2008 that we got the call from Atlantic Records [chairman and CEO] Craig Kallman, and we didn’t think it was real. Obviously, we Googled who Craig Kallman was and saw he was the CEO of a record label. We set up a meeting and verified everything before calling the rest of the group and saying they want to get us back together,” Chase recalled. “It was just unreal.”
“Holiday Spirits” and “Christmas Cheers” were released in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and Straight No Chaser became a seasonal favorite.
In addition to amazing harmonies, the guys are known for their senses of humor.
“When I was doing the lyrics for ‘The Christmas Can-Can,’ the song is about how the Christmas season just keeps getting earlier and earlier, and I was trying to think of other stereotypes that went along with it,” Chase said. “[The song] was kind of a continuation, if you will, of the minor interruption in ‘12 Days.’ The dreidel guy got to step out, lobbying that it’s just not fair if you’re Jewish during the holiday season.”
Stepping away from the warm glow of holiday lights, the group released “With a Twist” in 2010. No instruments were used on the disc; the 10 members used voices, vocal percussion, snaps, claps and stomps on “Tainted Love,” “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Wonderwall” and “Fix You,” among others.
Last November, Straight No Chaser released “Six Pack Volume 2,” which features “Like a Prayer,” “Buddy Holly” and “Billie Jean/Poison.”
“Those were songs that we did live in our stage show that our fans love and wanted recordings of,” Chase said of the EP. “We’re trying not to just cover songs, but put our own Straight No Chaser twist on the song.”
Like melding “Rhythm of Love” by Plain White T’s with Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” on “Six Pack.”
“We liked the thematic relationship between this ‘Rhythm of Love’ song that talks about having only one night and then that classic song, the standard of ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love,’ which is obviously generations apart, that really has the same underlying theme to it. They seem solid and worked well together with chord progression but also worked well with the theme of the song and the lyric,” Chase said during a call en route to a tour stop in Sacramento, Calif.
“The cool thing about a cappella, it does have a very structured feel to it, but there are a ton of ways that we can add our own arrangements and kick it up a level,” he added.
Straight No Chaser — Chase, Michael Luginbill, Randy Stine, David Roberts, Charlie Mechling, Jerome Collins, Don Nottingham, Ryan Ahlwardt, Seggie Isho and Tyler Trepp — will be at Stranahan Theater on April 19 for a 7:30 p.m. concert. A limited number of tickets remain on Ticketmaster.com.
“I’d say we probably will not be doing any holiday songs, but you never know with our group; we’re constantly changing the set list, whatever strikes us,” Chase said. “If people ever want to request songs, they can tweet me at @SNCWalt. I put up a set list every day, that way they can tweet and request new music.”