Randy Stine of Straight No Chaser Talks Playing Live, Surprises, and Christmas in The Spring
Tue, 04 Jan 2011 10:57:43
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"We try to have a surprise factor in the show," says Straight No Chaser's Randy Stine. "We love it when people say they came to one of our concerts not knowing what to expect and we totally shattered any expectations they had. It's a party for us on stage every night, and we want the audience to be as much of a part of it as possible."
Every Straight No Chaser show is a bona fide celebration. The modern maestros of a cappella croon out favorites from With a Twist, Christmas Cheers, and Holiday Spirits and give an undeniably timeless performance to fans in the process. Back in the Fall, Straight No Chaser released their very first box set, All I Want For Christmas. Featuring both Holiday Spirits and Christmas Cheers as well as their concert DVD, "Live In New York: Holiday Edition," it's the ultimate Straight No Chaser experience, and it's the next best thing to seeing the group live. Also, it happens to be just as amazing at any time of year, so crank it up, pre-, post- or during Christmas time!
Straight No Chaser's Randy Stine sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about the band's first box set, how the songs morph live, celebrating Christmas any time of year, and so much more.
What was the initial impetus behind All I Want For Christmas?
We had requests from fans saying that they liked both albums and were giving gifts to friends trying to introduce them to our music. We thought it'd be fun to have everything in one package. People were also asking for the PBS DVD which was also only originally available through PBS. We decided to put everything together in a nice gift box, and we wanted to make sure it had an affordable price point so people would give it for the holidays.
Straight No Chaser has become so entwined with the thought of 21st century Christmas too.
We'd like to think so! We're always very flattered when people send their friends to our web site or Tweet that they heard us being played on Sirius/XM. They'll be shopping at TJ Max or somewhere else and hear us playing over the speaker system [Laughs]. It's very flattering people are listening to us.
Do the songs change or evolve when you're performing them on stage?
I think they certainly change up every night. We always make sure that we're having a good time performing because, as a person who attends concerts, I think you can tell when an artist is performing a song that they've performed 500 times and they're tired of it. You never really want that to come across to an audience. There are songs that we've performed a whole bunch of times, but we keep them new for ourselves so it's not the same thing over and over again. We'll change it up tempo-wise, try it in a different key, or something will happen on stage. A couple shows ago, one of the guys stepped on the setlist and the tape was somehow reversed so it stuck to his foot. During this whole choreographed song, he was dancing around with two 8.5/11 sheets of paper stuck to his foot. I nearly lost it [Laughs]. We refresh ourselves, and the possibility of what's going to happen live keeps things new and fresh on stage. If it's fun for us, and that can usually translate to the audience as well.
Is it weird recording Christmas music at other times of year?
We're used to it now. When we first started out, it was a little odd. When we first got signed, Christmas had just ended. In January, we had our initial meetings with Atlantic Records about doing a Christmas album. In February, March, April and May, we began rehearsing for the first album. We can switch into Christmas mode anytime we want. Any other artist who has released a Christmas album will tell you they're typically recorded in the Spring or Summer before that season. I don't think too many people get to record a Christmas album during the holiday and then release it a year later. It's all in the mindset. We've done everything from putting up Christmas trees and decorating them with lights to singing carols on the way to go a gig to make sure we're in that mindset.
What's your favorite Christmas movie?
Because of my family's sense of humor, I'd have to personally say National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. That's the classic my family watches every year. I think we can all quote every line from it. It's a great parody of the normal dysfunctional American family. It deals with all of the things the holidays bring including many relatives you may not see the rest of the year but at Christmas everyone is family. There's always some relative that wants to have the perfect Christmas. As many times as I've seen it, we make it a tradition to watch it sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are so many great scenes. Probably, the most well-known is when he goes on that tirade about his boss who is actually Bill Murray's brother in the movie. If you're watching carefully, you'll get a few more laughs.
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