a cappella

Quick Q and A with None of the Above

None of the Above is an exceptionally talented eight–yes count ‘em—member a cappella group.  They tackle songs from a wide range of musical genres.  Fans of pop, gospel, American songbook standards, folk, etc. will find something to enjoy when watching one of their shows.

To learn more about None of the Above, visit their website.

Here’s a video of the group singing at last summer’s “All You Need is Love” benefit.

And a really fun video that you may recognize.

None of the Above

 Explain the group’s name!

There used to be a website called the Boston A cappella Scene.  On it you could post audition notices or upcoming gigs and news. When Matt was in the process of starting the group, he used this site to try to find some members. On the audition form, there was an option for the type of your group: Rock, Pop, Soul, Barbershop, Classical, etc… and it would only let you pick one. At the bottom of the form, it asked what the name of the group was. Seeing as we didn’t fit into any of the pre-defined categories, Matt entered “None of the Above”… it stuck. Although in retrospect, All of the Above, might have been a better choice!

You’ve been singing together for ten years.  Have you altered your repertoire to include different types of music–some that you may have never imagined that you’d be singing?

Oh definitely.  It’s tough for a new group starting out, with new members coming and going. We were much more of a small choral group back then, singing purchased arrangements. As the group solidified, we chose music that showed off our strengths. Over time we started pushing our own boundaries: 6,7 and 8 part arrangements, arrangements written either for us or by us, avant garde academic music, and nearly impossible Gene Puerling arrangements of jazz standards. We’re uniquely blessed to have 3 arrangers in the group and two good friends that have also written for us. Matt also draws upon his prior choral directing experience to bring not often heard academic music to our audiences.

Tell us about your annual event, Spring Fev-ah.  What is it all about and how did it come about?

Even though we would rehearse year ’round, in the beginning we acted very much like an academic group, with a September to June schedule. So we wanted to have a “year end” concert that showed off what we had done for the previous nine months. One of the songs in our repertoire at the time was the jazz standard “Fever” and that’s how the concert got its name. NOTA sang solo in the first Spring Fev-ah but has invited guest groups ever since, from high school to semi pro. It’s become a well recognized a cappella staple in the Boston area. One very memorable SF was our first in our current Wellesley location – it was 102 degrees that afternoon and a large, very forgiving audience showed up in an un-air conditioned church to hear us sing. It could have been called Sweatin’ to A cappella!  Overboard was one of our guests a few years ago as well!

What was it like recording your CD?  Did the recording take place over a period of time?  Did you record it live or did you multi-track?

Seeing as we didn’t have a ton of money to go to a recording studio and the fact we had all our own recording equipment and enough knowledge to be dangerous, we chose to do the entire CD ourselves – recording, editing, mastering, graphics. We scheduled several recording sessions over the course of nine months — mostly at one of our member’s house! We did record with 8 separate tracks but not the way most a cappella groups record — we didn’t layer or punch in track over track. We sang each of our songs two or three times per session and if there was a take we liked, we went with it. We didn’t want our CD to sound overly manufactured or processed — we wanted it to sound as if you came to hear us live. Sure, we did edit the balance and added some reverb and some correction here and there, but for the most part, what you hear on the recording is just us as if it were live. It seemed like the whole process took forever, but it was very rewarding when we finally released ‘multiple choice’ in April 2012.

You’ve just been chosen to appear on “Sing that Thing” a series on WGBH-TV.  What’s the format of the show and when will it air?

As you know, Boston is a hot bed of choirs and a cappella groups. There’s something for every taste and niche. Based off the popularity of recent singing competitions, WGBH is launching a new series that will feature the best choral groups in the greater Boston area. There are four ‘divisions’: high school, college, adult small ensemble and adult large ensemble. From the 1000s of singers that auditioned, only 6 groups from each division were chosen. There will be three rounds of competition: everyone gets a couple minutes to show what they’ve got in the first round. The top two groups from each division move on to the semi-finals, and finally the top group in each division go head to head in the final round. It will premiere on WGBH channel 2, on Friday, April 17th at 8pm. We’re beyond excited to have been selected!

Who does the practice scheduling? With an octet, it must be pretty challenging to get everyone in the same room together!

 

In general we meet once a week on Monday nights. Despite all of our hectic lives, NOTA rehearsal is a welcome respite from everything else that life brings! Even with business travel and family commitments. more often than not, we have all 8 of us in rehearsal.

Do you all pitch in ideas for new songs or is there a group leader who has a sense of the group’s taste and abilities?

While Matt is the music director of the group, we all pitch in with ideas for new material. As previously mentioned, having three members of the group with arranging abilities is a huge plus for us. We like to perform unique arrangements of songs familiar to our audiences as well as pieces they may never have heard before. Our eclectic mix of academic, pop, jazz, spirituals, folk and world music offers something for every taste– and keeps us on our toes at the same time!

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