Published: October 21, 2013
Ten guys and 10 microphones.
The a cappella group Straight No Chaser doesn't need any instruments, digital manipulation or computer-generated effects. Their voices are the real deal.
"There's so much music out there now, and with all this great technology, it's a double-edged sword," says singer Don Nottingham from a recent tour stop in Columbia, Mo. "It's so easy to make music, but it's so easy to make music. Anybody can do it. But you come to the show, and it feels more pure. What we do is straight up. There are no backing tracks."
One can expect a SNC show to traipse through a wide gamet of songs, including "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell. A healthy selection of holiday music is also part of their repartee. And they don't do just covers. They make each song their own, with beatboxing, harmonies and backup vocals.
"You can't get too attached to any one song," Nottingham says. "Maybe we'll be singing Miley Cyrus in a couple weeks."
The group got together in 1996 at Indiana University, and went their separate ways after graduation four years later. In 2006, when the guys got together for a reunion show, member Randy Stine put up some old clips on YouTube. Their "The 12 Days of Christmas" video went viral, Nottingham says, and caught the eye of Atlantic Records management.
The group never looked back. Nottingham quit his job as a deputy district attorney in Jefferson County to chase the dream.
It's panned out. Their fourth album, "Under the Influence," came out in May and features collaborations with big name musicians including Phil Collins, Dolly Parton, Sara Bareilles and Seal.
"There's something about when you're singing, with no guitar to hide behind," Nottingham says. "For me, it's so raw and human. People really take to that."
Contact Jennifer Mulson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 636-0270