Celebrating their 20th Anniversary with their “I’ll Have Another Tour,” coming to the Long Center October 29th, just how has Straight No Chaser remained popular for twenty years?
You can probably name several a cappella groups—real and fictional (the Yale Wiffenpoofs, Tufts’ Beelzebus, Glee‘s Warblers, Andy Bernard’s Here Comes Treble from The Office, Pitch Perfect‘s Barden Bellas. . .we could go on and on, but we won’t). Regardless, a cappella takes serious musicianship and it is seriously here to stay.
Straight No Chaser has achieved their long-lived popularity through a mixture of talent, fun, dedication, and friendship. Originally formed at Indiana University in Bloomington, Straight No Chaser is a classic YouTube instant fame story. Their “12 Days of Christmas” with the surprise inclusion of Toto’s Africa launched the group’s career as the 1998 video uploaded for personal enjoyment quickly earned seven million views (and has way more now). In 2008, Atlantic Records caught wind of the video, and the group of college friends turned into “10 men. 10 suits. No instruments.”
They’ve taken their original Thelonious Monk inspiration (his 1967 album Straight, No Chaser being their main influence), and run with the fun-loving, innovative take on the classic a cappella choral genre that skyrocketed them to fame, taking it to an all-time high.
It’s easy to forget that these are real guys—men, now—and some with families, successful jobs, and hobbies that made rejoining the ensemble for full-time recording and touring a no-go. Take a look at their individual profile pages on the band’s site—they have likes, dislikes, favorite restaurants and nicknames, just like everyone else.
And it still feels like a pipe dream to some. Creative Loafing out of Tampa Bay caught up with member Jerome Collins to get inside his head and understand his very real personality. “It got bigger than our wildest dreams,” says Collins. “We’re 10 friends from college who are, 20 years later, still singing together.” How many other people can say that?
But Jerome has a bigger point to make. “The thing about Straight No Chaser is we take our music seriously, we just don’t take ourselves too seriously.” This is not the stuffy, stodgy, collegiate a cappella that you’re used to. Straight No Chaser takes the tradition and turns it on its head to make it even better, but the genre remains in tact. “I challenge people who have never seen an a cappella group before—come see. It’s a party onstage and you’re all invited.”
Challenge accepted, Jerome!
Straight No Chaser celebrates their 20th Anniversary with their “I’ll Have Another” world tour. Come have another with them October 29th—you’re invited!