Jeanne was out holiday shopping when she came across the a capella group, Overboard, performing for the crowds. Impressed by their sound and the audience's response, she introduced herself and decided to share her discovery with our Grommet blog readers. I've been enjoying their music ever since, and Overboard director, Nick Girard, was gracious enough to answer my questions so that all of you could learn more about them too. Hope you enjoy the interview and the music -- don't miss the video they made just for us (below), plus you can download Overboard's newest album, "Help" for free (find out how below):
What led you to create the group, Overboard, and how did you get your start?
I was involved with an a cappella group in college and really missed it after graduation. For a long time, I didn't actually believe there was a demand for a cappella; moving to Boston, one of the genres' great hubs, convinced me otherwise. So, in the spring of 2006, I started contacting a few guys I'd sung with. A few Craigslist posts and many auditions later, Overboard was created. That first summer, we mostly street performed. Little by little, we got more and more work and recognition; in 2007, we were finalists on the CBS Early Show's “A Cappella Quest”.
How many guys are in the group and how do you all get along?
Currently, there are six guys in the group. We get along really well… most of the time anyway! No, seriously, we hang out all the time, whether we're supposed to be singing or not (I emphasize the “supposed to be singing” because we all are constantly singing, humming, whistling or doing vocal percussion -- much to the delight of our friends and family!). When we’re not on the road together, we do pretty typical things like watch movies, play poker or go rock climbing. A bunch of us went on a cruise last year and enjoyed the nightly karaoke, as you can imagine.
Are there any non-a cappella musicians who inspire you?
We're inspired by just about every type of music you can imagine. Most of us got into music as instrumentalists, rather than as singers, and that background often shows in how we think about music. Beyond that, one of the great things about a cappella is that its versatility enables us to perform songs from all different genres, so our repertoire really reflects that breadth of influence. In our holiday set, for example, one minute we’ll be doing a modern, almost electronica, version of “We Three Kings” and the next we’ll be doing a traditional performance of “Carol of the Bells.” For us, the tricky part isn’t finding or incorporating influences, but rather blending those influences so our sets and albums sound cogent and cohesive.
My family and I have been rabid Glee fans from day one and we were glued to the recent "Sing-Off" contest. Have these popular shows brought you more attention - and what do you think of them?
Although its popularity has grown enormously over the last five years, a cappella is still a pretty unknown genre for mainstream music fans, so having shows like “Glee” and “The Sing-Off” enter the popular consciousness has really helped give audiences a frame of reference for what we’re doing. Many people still think of a cappella as barbershop or glee club, but “Sing-Off” groups like the Tufts Beelzebubs and Nota really dispel that misperception, which particularly helps us because our style is probably somewhere in between theirs. Moreover, since we spend much of our time in schools doing clinics and concerts, having the kids reference those shows has been really cool -- definitely a different atmosphere from when I was in high school!
Today we're featuring your new album, a tribute to the Beatles. This Christmas, my Mom surprised our family with Beatles Rock Band for the Wii. I can only imagine that the success of Beatles Rock Band has helped you.
We definitely had Rock Band in mind as we planned Help!. Knowing about the Rock Band release, as well as the plan to release the remastered Beatles catalogue, we thought 2009 would be a great time for a modern a cappella tribute to the Beatles.
Your album is called "Help," but it's different from the Beatles' album of the same title. How did you pick the songs?
We decided to arrange the songs in such a way as to tell a story, similar to the concept albums created by bands like Pink Floyd and The Who. So, we came up with this idea of having the album be a flashback of a relationship between Beatles’ characters Billy Shears and Eleanor Rigby; the song “In My Life” frames the flashback and really sets the stage for our mini-rock opera, complete with each song transitioning into the next. In this day and age when people focus more on singles than albums, conceiving this project as a whole work, rather than a collection of disparate songs, was a bit of a gamble, but we’re really proud of the final project and are thrilled with the positive feedback we’ve received.
So what's next for Overboard?
We've always been guided by a “little bit of everything” mentality. Looking ahead, we’ll be bringing Help! to the stage as a full-length live show. We’re also planning a concert series where we’ll be hosting some great local and school choruses and a cappella groups, in an effort to expose more people to the genre and raise money for these groups.
We’ll be hosting a weeklong summer camp for high school and college singers, and we're really excited about 2010, not just for Overboard, but for the genre of a cappella itself. We’re honored to be a part of such a dynamic, burgeoning community. You can visit our website, www.overboardvocals.com, for more information about Overboard and the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America’s website, www.casa.org, for more information about a cappella music more generally.
Thanks, Nick, and all the guys at Overboard! Hope everyone enjoys this video ... recorded just for Daily Grommet:
Now through February 12, 2010, Overboard is inviting all Daily Grommet fans to download the album "Help" for free! Click here and enter the Code: DailyGrommet.
Hope you'll stop back and let us know what you think!