It’s no secret that, like virtually every other musical group, the a cappella group Straight No Chaser was unable to tour due to the pandemic, a situation that wiped out several tours in 2020 for the ensemble. . The group, back on tour, appears Sunday at the Orpheum.
The pandemic has also altered plans to create the group’s latest holiday album, aptly titled “Social Christmasing.”
“That was another thing where we were going, well, we’re supposed to be in the studio in May, maybe June 1 (2020),” singer Seggie Isho said in a recent phone interview. “And as more information came out with COVID, we quickly realized that it wouldn’t be possible for us to go into the studio at all. “
But the nine singers and their producer, Kevin Killen, got creative, and thanks to the wonders of file sharing and recording technology today, they figured out how to record “Social Christmasing” at home. This had its advantages and disadvantages.
“What’s great is that you sort of sing along on your own schedule,” Isho said. “For example, when we’re in the studio, we have a set schedule that we usually stick to. The bass starts in the morning, say around 10 a.m. Then around noon or one o’clock, the baritones come in, then after us, the tenors come in. Don’t really heat up until probably like 4, 5 or 6 hours. So I was able to go there when my voice was in perfect condition to play and leave my mark.
“Then when we record in the studio, we have the arranger sitting there, we have the producer sitting there giving immediate feedback,” Isho said. “Like ‘This line you sing the right notes, but I don’t really get the emotion’ or ‘Try to do it that way.’ So when we do it from home, you record the song, download it, and email it to the arranger and producer. They listen to it and then they send notes. So it’s kind of, I don’t know, a bit sterilized process. But it was still a great experience. I think we recorded the EP ‘Open Bar’ back home (too), but taking this whole album (“Social Christmasing”) with all these new songs and never having sung or rehearsed them together was absolutely difficult. But we’re really happy with how it turned out.
In fact, Straight No Chaser just released a deluxe edition of “Social Christmasing” with a pair of new songs.
“Mike Luginbill wrote another original that all of us, hearing his demo, we were all really, really excited, a fun, upbeat holiday gem,” Isho said of the song, titled “Christmas Show”. “So we’re all really excited about this. “
The other addition is the one that particularly excited Isho – a new take on Kenny Loggins’ hit “Celebrate Me Home” with Loggins himself joining Straight No Chaser for this release.
Holiday music has been a mainstay of Straight No Chaser throughout the band’s career. In fact, it was a viral “12 Days of Christmas” video that became an unexpected big break for the group.
Recorded for a 10th anniversary reunion of the Indiana University-formed group, the video went viral in 2007 and prompted Atlantic Records to offer Straight No Chaser a recording deal.
Believing that Christmas music was the perfect introduction for the band, Craig Kallman, CEO of Atlantic Records, made his Straight No Chaser debut with the 2008 Christmas album, “Holiday Spirits”. It was an immediate hit. Since then, the group has released three more holiday albums, four full non-holiday albums, as well as one holiday album and four non-Christmas EPs.
During the pandemic, Straight No Chaser tried to make up for the lack of in-person gigs by doing live performances. But Isho and the other singers – Luginbill, Tyler Trepp, Randy Stine, Steve Morgan, Walter Chase, Jerome Collins, Charlie Mechling and new member Jasper Smith – are more than excited to be back on tour.
The band did a tremendous amount of work and planned the creation of their last live show, starting with the song set.
“We have new tracks that we’re excited to debut,” Isho said, noting the band is working on a new album outside of the holidays. “When we thought about the set list, it was kind of finding a balance. Like OK, for us, we always want to introduce as much new material as possible. But at the same time, people will get attached to songs. specifics that they saw us rehearse or do on You Tube or listened to on a streaming platform. So they want to see those songs. So it’s a matter of finding a good compromise. And I think that not being released (in tour) for so long, it’s a good time to get some of these songs that we haven’t done in a few years in the set, mixed in with some new ones, just so everyone gets a little bit of something that he wants.
The group gave a few concerts this summer and are now embarking on an extensive fall tour. When the calendar enters the holiday season, the show will evolve to include more Christmas carols.
“For our full tour, we’ll usually start with 97% non-vacations, and we’ll sprinkle maybe two or three vacation songs at the top of the tour,” Isho said. “Then after Thanksgiving, we’ll go 50/50. “
Fans can expect plenty of visuals to complement the musical performances. Video content is typically created by group members.
“One thing we want to do with our show is always make sure people feel like they’re getting a lot more value than what’s on the ticket,” Isho said. “We don’t want people to come to a show and leave thinking, ‘Ah, that looks like this little show.’ We want it to look like an arena show, but packaged in a performing arts center. And at the same time, it’s a cappella, so having those visuals really helps complete the experience. fun and we love making our homemade videos, we try to make them as funny as possible.
“We think we are really funny, but it will be interesting to see if everyone agrees or not,” he added. “We have a lot of fun doing production stuff and creating all these visuals that go with the music. It’s great to see it all come together and still really stall it with the show. Having a good rhythm with the show is really important to us. We never want people to feel like there is a lull, that there is a good arc in the show to keep everyone coming away satisfied.
Right no hunter
When: 2 p.m. Sunday 31 October
Or: Orpheum Theater, 200 N. Broadway