The members of Pentatonix, the a cappella quintet founded by Arlington Martin High grads Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying and Kirstie Maldonado, keeps making their voices heard.
They've been touring heavily since last year, selling out venues around the country in a circuit that will see them returning to Dallas' House of Blues on March 13, then performing in a couple of showcases during South by Southwest on March 15 in Austin. They've also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as well as Katie Couric and Marie Osmond's daytime talk shows.
Less than two years after winning NBC's The Sing-Off, Pentatonix has become one of the most successful a cappella groups ever -- and though their Sing-Off victory has something to do with that, the group (which also includes non-Texans Kevin Olusola and Avi Kaplan) has made more of an impact than any previous Sing-Off winner, thanks to a contemporary take on a cappella, a boatload of clever YouTube videos, a successful Christmas album and, yes, heavy touring.
We caught up with Maldonado and Grassi via some e-mailed questions. The singers answered separately, but we're condensing the answers here. (In a couple of instances, the answers were so similar that we just we just went with one answer.
By now, your tour has taken you all over the country. If someone had told you at the beginning of 2011 that you'd be traveling so much, what do you think you would have said to them?
Kirstie Maldonado:I probably would have said, "No way!! You're crazy. I mean, I wish!!" I was still a freshman in college at that time, pursuing musical theater, so being able to tour around the country singing was definitely a goal, but a long-term one! So being able to do that now has been so amazing. It's so much fun to see all the different places!!
Mitch Grassi: I don't think I would've believed them. I'm STILL in shock that we're touring so much and actually selling out shows! It's insane.
How do you keep from getting worn down -- or from having conflicts within the group when you're spending so much time together?
KM: The tour bus has actually been a lifesaver! Before it was really hard to get enough sleep while touring, but conveniently the bus drives at night so we go to bed and then wake up in the next city! That has been so nice because now we get enough rest so that we can save our voices! We have our time spaced out to where we can get alone time when we need it, but we're all just a big family. If we ever have any conflicts they resolve so easily.
MG: If things get a little tense within the group, we know when to give our bandmates alone time and vice versa. After all, we are a family and at the end of the day, the group comes first!
What was the best post-Sing-Off TV experience? Any dream TV gigs you'd like to do that you haven't yet?
KM: I personally loved performing on the Tonight Show. I couldn't believe it, the whole experience was so surreal! I feel like I speak for the group when I say that we would just about die to be on the Ellen Degeneres show. That would be SO much fun. I would totally fan girl out too, haha.
What do these homecoming concerts like the one at House of Blues Dallas mean to you? It looks like there's a break in the tour after Dallas -- any plans to hang around DFW and visit old haunts?
KM: Coming home to perform is so special, you just feel a sense of pride knowing thats where you grew up and spent so much of your time there getting to where you are now! I love it. Everyone's just amazingly supportive and crazy, it's always a fun show!! Yes! I believe we'll be home for about a week or so taking a break and working on our upcoming album!
MG: It's always great to see that our hometown supports our endeavors. I know I'm definitely going to relax at home for a bit -- I do get homesick every now and again.
I've seen some talk about being an opening act on for an arena-level artists and of a possible European tour. Any developments on those fronts?
KM: I wouldn't want to give anything away, but there will hopefully be a lot more touring for PTX after this first 2013 tour!! :)
MG: We are really hoping to go overseas and play shows for our fans there. Eventually, we'd like to gain an overseas following. Plus, I've always wanted to go to Europe!
When do you think you'll find time to work on a new album?
KM: While on tour we've each been writing originals and now we really just gotta crack down and get everything together. We're hoping for our next EP to come out within the next few months, probably with a release right after this tour is over!
MG: 2013 is quite a busy year for us. We've been on the road pretty much since the first of the year, so we try to work during our downtime as much as we can. Hopefully, our new EP will be released before summer.
As popular as your shows and videos are, you still don't hear a cappella music played on the radio that much. Do you think that will change? Or do you even need radio exposure?
KM: We would love to have some radio play. That's definitely a goal of ours. Even though a cappella hasn't been featured on the radio that much yet, I think it has definitely been brought to the forefront with shows like The Sing Off, Glee, and the movie Pitch Perfect. More people now understand what it is and I think the heart and raw realness that it has. So hopefully one day we can write a super awesome hit and get it on the radio! That would be a dream!
MG: I'm not really sure if acappella will ever be "mainstream." I do know that it's being brought to the forefront, however. ... But as for us, we don't just want to be a novelty. We want to be respected both as individual musicians and as a band that just happens to be all-vocal.
I've noticed you've occasionally added instrumentation to some songs. Do you hear from a cappella purists who say the music should be purely vocal?
KM:We have never added instrumentation to any of our songs! We're just trying to use our voices to sound like a track so yay, hopefully that worked haha!! The only times we've added any type of instrument to any performance is one tour performance last year when Mitch was sick (we had to cut a lot of songs so we made up for the time with some random solos and duos) and now in this 2013 tour ... well I don't want to give it away but ... we use an instrument that was pretty integral to us coming together as a group. But never have we used any instrumentation on our tracks, albums, or YouTube videos!
GM:Our music is purely vocal, unless we are collaborating with other artists who use instruments such as guitar, cello, piano, violin, etc.
Your music seems well-suited to use in movies, TV shows or commercials. Any offers on those fronts?
KM: We've had a few opportunities come up but none have been followed through all the way. But we definitely love when offers like that come our way!