INTERVIEW: Pentatonix hints at solo careers, but don't freak out yet!
When Texas a cappella fivesome, Pentatonix, hit the stage on the third season of The Sing-Off, they blew away viewers. Those four guys and one girl can make a lot of beautiful noise. And we couldn't have been more excited to finally chat with them.
Pentatonix's first two albums immediately broke into the Billboard 200's Top 20 and, now, they're back to try again. PTX, Vol. III releases on Tuesday, Sept. 23. If their past records are any indication, this could be their best-performing album yet. The gorgeous gang is more than just a group of young, pretty faces with big vocals and no instrumental backups, though. Part of their schtick is how approachable and inspiring they are to their fans. That isn't just a happy accident. It's part of the "image" they've cultivated.
They want to inspire... and be inspired
"I think we really like inspiring people," shared Kirstie Maldonado, the only girl of the group. "I feel like we all have pretty humble beginnings. We're just choir nerds, and we're really nerdy and geeky. Yeah, all five of us are different. But the common bond is music, and that's what we love doing and why we're doing this. That's really what we're in it for, and I love when we get to meet people, and they're like, 'Oh, you've inspired me to create this group or join my choir and do this.' To really just follow any passion you have, and it can go past music, too. But we really fought to make this a thing and make it work for us. And, so, that's the message we like bringing to our fans. To persevere."
With such a great personal message, we wondered: Do they have any fan stories that have stuck with them over time? It turns out they have had a few interactions with fans that have really meant a lot to them.
"This mom came up with her son and, this is kind of dark, but was like, 'My son identifies as a trans man and he was contemplating suicide.' It was very sad," shared the band. "She was like, 'Thank you so much for what you do. It really inspired him to come out of his shell and be himself.' It was very touching."
Fans of Pentatonix will know how personal that story would be. During their stint on The Sing-Off, the group visited the headquarters for The Trevor Project and filmed a special segment. Later, comments about members, Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying, being homosexual were edited from the clip. The group went on to talk about how, in general, they're all so bonded that they find they put worth and importance on many of the same things, which certainly helps with songwriting, too.
Proof of the band's ability to be affected by their fans comes from an equally sweet story from Maldonado, who shared another great fan moment.
"I have it saved in my room. It was this cute little handwritten letter and it was just saying that she was going through hard times," Maldonado shared. "And I feel like everyone at some point goes through hard times and it's relative to you. She was going through hard times and felt, like, drained from anything. She felt like she couldn't find happiness from anything or really find the motivation to do anything. And that one day, she happened upon one of our songs and just it was like a spark. 'The five of you really inspired me and it was just really nice to have a feeling of light and motivation, again, and start living again.' And it was really touching, the fact that we could be that for people where there's so many artists that I looked up to growing up that did that for me. It was just really special."
High school didn't suck for these kids
Speaking of rough times, we wondered if anyone in the group had a rough time in high school. After all, kids in band and choir are rarely the popular kids. It turns out Maldonado, Grassi and Hoying all went to the same arts-oriented high school. So, they weren't bigger losers than anyone else.
"I loved high school," Maldonado admitted. "I was such a loser, but I had a great time."
But covering Taylor Swift does
While they may have escaped bullying in high school, it's something that exists even in adulthood and especially once you're in the spotlight. Since so much of Pentatonix's catalog is made up of covers, we wondered if there were any songs they wouldn't want to cover for fear of a negative reaction. The answer was pretty surprising: They aren't up for covering Taylor Swift.
"One that comes to mind is 'I Knew You Were Trouble,'" shared the band. "We were gonna arrange it, but we couldn't find a key that works for any of our voices that we liked. It was just really hard to sing. Like, with what we do, we have to be able to sing it perfectly live and just we could already tell it was going to be a mess. We just were intimidated by it. It's a big song, if you think about it."
And they have big plans outside of Pentatonix
"I Knew You Were Trouble" is a hard song to arrange for five people, but it's not so tough as a solo artist. While the gang sort of fell into singing as an a cappella group, they have big plans for their individual careers, too.
"I think Pentatonix is an unbelievably special thing and I want to do it for the next five to 10 years," shared the group. "It's incredible. But, of course, we're going to have our solo aspirations, as well. I grew up wanting to be a solo artist and this just fell into my lap and I love it so much, so yeah."
Maldonado agreed, "I feel like that's what's cool about the group. We all weren't necessarily a capella people at all, really. I didn't know anything coming into it. It was just a fun thing we were all doing together. But, we can all spread out and do our own thing and then come back to this."
For now, they'll stick together, though
The band also admitted they'd probably never cover "Bohemian Rhapsody." While their fans would love it, old-school Queen fans would dish out too much hate to make it worth the risk. Admittedly, that's going to forever be the one song we wait to hear from them. While "Bohemian Rhapsody" won't be on PTX, Vol. III, there are still plenty of awesome tracks worth a spin when the album releases on Tuesday. Check it out!