Two-time Grammy winners also discuss favorite countries and must-haves on the road.
Contrary to their hit single Can't Sleep Love, all the members of Pentatonix do is sleep, at least when they are hitting the road as hard as they have this year. Getting plenty of winks is only a small part of their health regime, which also includes tons of water and popping Ricola cough drops. Having wrapped up a string of overseas dates in Europe and Asia, the electric, Grammy-winning five-piece made the media rounds this week to reveal huge news: they have officially partnered with Ricola USA to not only promote their music but also a healthy lifestyle. "It's a perfect partnership because it helps voices -- and we are a completely vocal group. It's really important to us. We are reimagining the jingle, too, which is so iconic. We made sure to keep the essence of it but we added a little Pentatonix moment at the beginning," powerhouse Scott Hoying shares with Popdust at a secret meet at their hotel in Midtown.
Always larger-than-life, the PTX creatives -- Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola -- were bright-eyed and energized when discussing their tour life, dedicated fans and how their 2015 self-titled studio album forever morphed their live show. "I think we just needed to look for new ways to accentuate our music. It was even more personal because it was obviously our words, our melodies," Kaplan says of the album's impact on their tours. "We took more ownership in the production aspect. We are always trying to take things to the next level and push ourselves."
While the new upcoming U.S. leg of their world tour will probably remain much the same, Grassi teases they "might throw in some new material," he says. "We are going to some new cities this time around, so a lot of [our fans] haven't seen the show yet."
Next month (and well into fall), the band will fly out overseas for a string of shows before returning to the states for a concert Oct. 17 at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Looking ahead, the band members eye which U.S. cities they are most hyped to visit. "We are technically doing a New Jersey show, but it's going to draw in a lot of our New York fans. I love performing here," Grassi admits.
Hoying is looking forward most to a splashy reunion show in his home state. "We are also really excited for Dallas, because all three of us [Kirsin and Mitch] grew up there. We always went to concerts there at the American Airlines Centre. That's like the dream. That's where every aspiring artist wants to play. That's going to be a really cool moment. I'm sure there will be lots of tears."
Having managed to cultivate such a massive, worldwide following, the quintet have performed countless times overseas, and they have found music to be the language of every culture. "It's even more special when music transcends languages and you can communicate in that way. I feel like out of any place, it's the other countries that can sing the music more -- they know every single part and really dedicate. You have a moment onstage when they're singing along to your originals, and it's amazing," Maldonado says.
Grassi chimes in, "...and they have different favorite songs, too, which is very interesting. People may latch onto one particular song we probably don't even perform anymore but they just love it so much. In Europe, especially, they love 'On My Way Home.' They always sing the chant-y part when they want us to come back out onstage for the encore."
For Kaplan, one of his favorite fan moments actually involves On My Way Home. "When we were in Portugal, they started singing 'On My Way Home' after we had totally finished the encore. We didn't even sing that song during the show. The fact that they did that on top of everything else, it was just really special."
Olusola agrees, "On the last show, we actually sang 'On My Way Home,' and to hear the fans belting those lyrics was absolutely incredible."
When it comes down to selecting their favorite country to visit, it proved to be a difficult task. "Japan…or the Philippines," Maldonado says, rather tentatively. Hoying adds, "Japan is definitely one of the best." Grassi interjects his favorite might be Portugal -- "yea, they're wild," Hoying nods.
More specifically, the group focuses on their favorite cities on their 2016 tour. "The Portugal show was amazing. Tulsa, Oklahoma was a really cool show just because there were so many people," says Hoying.
"The LA show was amazing," Olusola -- to which Hoying replies, "Usually, we always want the LA show to be amazing, but it's always so-so. But this year, it was like THE show."
Pentatonix was released nearly a year ago, and it remains one of Popdust's go-to albums on the daily. When it comes to their live show, the group settles on a few of their absolute favorite originals to perform live. "I really love singing 'Na Na Na.' That one is really fun. It has a party-esque atmosphere and really energetic. That one really gets the crowd going," Olusola, with his classic pearly whites, says.
Hoying and Maldonado stick with the tried and true anthems, Sing and Cracked. "I really like singing 'Sing.' We are playing a bunch of memories in the background. Sometimes, I'll be jumping around and look back, and it gets me even more pumped," Maldonado says.
But Grassi has a different favorite in mind. "I like doing 'Can't Sleep Love,' selfishly, because I like doing the rap."
While Kaplan, Olusola, Maldonado, Grassi and Hoying have all but become masters of the road, they do admit they are self-aware enough to realize when a performance did not live up to their personal best. "I feel like that is happening less and less. It's more like 'this crowd is dead, what are we doing wrong? And how do we get them amped?'" says Grassi.
"Or it's a personal thing, like 'I'm so tired, I wish I would have had more energy to give to them,'" Maldonado adds.
"Or it's 'I didn't get a lot of sleep and my voice is super exhausted.' The show is not as fun when you can't sing as full out," Hoying says.
Now, when it comes to packing for the road, they offer up a few must-haves. "This is so 2016 to say, but I have to have my laptop and iPhone and chargers," Hoying chuckles. Meanwhile, Maldonado has a few items of personal significance on her list, "I have a blanket I bring from home and I have pictures sometimes that used to put on the wall above my bunk."
Of course, since music pumps in their veins, it is not surprising Olusola's answer involves music creation. "I have a songwriting pad now that I bring just because when you go to different countries, you get so inspired by things you hear or things you learn. So, I have that to write down ideas I have, whether it's a lyric or song title or just a melody."
With countless new tour dates down the pipeline, Pentatonix eye new music, if they can fit it in while at the grind. "If it's getting really grueling on the road, then we are like 'we shouldn't overwork ourselves. We should kind of take it easy.' But we are always thinking about what we can be doing next, like pre-arranging or arranging or sometimes even recording. Health comes first, though," says Grassi.
Hoying then drops a bombshell. "We just arranged a cover we might do on our next tour. We are excited to perform that one." Maldonado adds, "We will definitely have some new covers by the time tour comes around."
Hoying then reveals the band will be heading back into writing and recording mode at the turn of 2017. "We are always thinking about what we want to cover next. We are going to start writing this coming year and dive into more original stuff."
Pentatonix return to the road August 20 with a show at the Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo -- speaking of which, Beyonce and Justin Bieber, if you are reading this, the explosive, two-time Grammy winners are ready and more than willing to buckle up on your tours. Give 'em a call, pronto!
During a live stream chat this afternoon (July 28), the band also revealed a brand new Christmas album is coming later this year. It really is Christmas in July, Pentaholics.
For the latest news and updates about Ricola's parternship with Pentatonix, please visit ricolaPTX.com.
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