Home Free became a household name in America when they won the fourth season of NBC's "The Sing-Off". The acapella quintet - made of Austin Brown, Rob Lundquist, Chris Rupp, Tim Foust and Adam Rupp - are currently on the road with "The Sing-off Tour" across the States but when that ends, the schedule will keep busy for Home Free.
A new EP, a new headlining tour in the Fall, covering One Direction's "Story of My Life" in their next YouTube video, or giving advise to future "The Sing-Off" contestants, check out all things Home Free's Chris Rupp had to tell us in our exclusive interview below!
1. (DirectLyrics) After you won Season 4 of "The Sing-Off" last year you signed to Columbia Records. How does it feel to be part of a major label, and how excited were you when you saw your debut album “Crazy Life” hit the stores?
(Chris Rupp of Home Free) It's amazing... We never ever in our wildest dreams thought we would be on a major label. I mean, acappella in major retailers? National spotlight? All we wanted before was to be able to make a living doing what we love, so to be at this point now...it's almost overwhelming. It's a crazy life indeed!
2. “Crazy Life” features mostly covers but there are a few originals too. The covers were, I assume, easy to choose, but the originals? Did you have these songs already written before entering the show or did you write them really fast after winning "The Sing-Off"?
We have 5 originals on the album, three of which were written by our bass Tim Foust. He's been a songwriter for years and actually released his own solo country album previously, so we were able to take songs from that and "acapellize" them. Two other songs (Anyway The Wind Blows and Crazy Life) were written by songwriters out of Nashville that we know. We had a few other options we'd written but with the time crunch we were happy with these 5.
3. Would you have liked to include more originals and not so many covers? And, perhaps, had more time to work on your debut album?
We were happy with the mix - one of the trademarks of acapella is how the genre takes songs with instruments and re-imagines them with just voices, so we wanted to stay true to that, while at the same time putting our own stamp on music with our original songs too. We had about 3 months or so from when the finale was taped till when the show actually aired to get the cd done, which was a big challenge amidst our regular touring schedule, but we pulled it off and were really happy with the result! For our next album we'll still do a few covers, but we'll likely add more original music into the mix as well.
4. Are you happy with the performance “Crazy Life” has had sales-wise so far?
Yeah, very much so! We debuted at number 40 on the overall billboard charts and were number one on the Itunes country the first day of release...so exciting! We've been selling great numbers at all of our live shows too...we couldn't be happier with how the album has been selling.
5. How is the song-writing process for Home Free? Do you all get into it or is there one song-writer in the group?
Tim is the primary song-writer, though Austin and myself do some as well. As far as arranging goes, Tim and I do the bulk of the arranging at first, writing out all the parts on sheet music, and then we take it to the group and woodshed it together to craft the final project. It works out really well for us!
6. You’re currently on the road with the "Sing-Off" tour. After the concerts trek is over, what will be the immediate plans for Home Free?
Well, it never stops! As soon as this tour is over, were back on the road again doing our own shows. It doesn't really slow down till the summer, when we're looking forward to some well-deserved time off! We'll also start getting ready for our own fall headlining tour, as well as work on a new EP for the holidays. We're very excited for the future as we start to fully realize the potential The Sing Off has given us.
7. Although you're known as an "a capella" group, would you consider moving on to the next step, and record an album where the productions and vocals are on the same level? Certainly that would open more doors and markets for Home Free, wouldn't you agree?
Not necessarily. While we're not opposed to all options, we feel right now that doing what we do is unique and different. If we were to add instruments, we'd no longer be special and would be just like every other band out there. Plus, one of the coolest things of what we do is our fantastic rhythm section (Adam Rupp on beatbox and Tim Foust on bass) which would negate that. We really want to try and do this without instruments - it's certainly possible as a cappella becomes more and more mainstream, as evidenced by the success of movies like Pitch Perfect and groups like Pentatonix.
8. One of your most-viewed videos on YouTube is your cover of Avicii’s hit song “Wake Me Up”. Were you all fans of the song before recording your version? What do you think of Avicii’s profitable idea to combine folk and electronic music?
We really were - we first heard the song while we were out taping the Sing Off last summer and thought it was fantastic. After we won the show, it was the first song we thought of that would translate so well into the countrypella genre we're exploring. Avicii is doing a wonderful job of combining two genres, just like we're doing. It's fresh and new, which is what people are always looking for.
9. What are a few of the favourite songs in the band at the moment? Perhaps, Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”?
(laughs) That's a neat song though I don't know if it's in our Top 5. Story of my Life by One Direction is a song we're planning to cover soon, and we've all gotten a kick out of Timber. Austin has really liked Summer of 19 You and Me, and Let Her Go by Passenger has been great. It's hard to pick just a few songs since there's so many great songs out there!
10. It is yet to be confirmed if there will be a Season 5 of “The Sing-Off", although it all points "yes", what advise would you give to the future contestants?
Define yourselves! What exactly are you trying to do with your group?
That was a problem Home Free had in our previous auditions, we were always trying to be a jack of all trades and master of none, so it was hard to know what to do with us. As we focused ourselves on country so many things fell into place that it really sharpened our direction and allowed us to excel.
So, for new groups out there wanting to audition what is it about you that sets you apart? What is your appeal to the masses?
How are you different? Answer those questions before you try to take the next steps.
11. How do you see the future of Home Free in ten years time?
It's so hard to answer, since we're already doing things right now that we never imagined even just a year ago! We'd certainly love to still be doing this - hopefully after having been a pioneer in launching a cappella further into the mainstream, especially in radio. We'd love to eventually be as well regarded and iconic as the Statler Brothers or the Oak Ridge Boys, and been an inspiration to the next generation of musicians who want to follow their dreams. I started Home Free 13 years ago and it just now has achieved this level...if you believe in it and love it, stick with it.
12. Any last thing you would like to share with our readers at Direct Lyrics?
Well, if you haven't yet had a listen to what we're doing, please give it a try, you'll be amazed at what the human voice is able to accomplish! By taking the familiar (country) and combining it with perhaps the unfamiliar (a cappella) you might just discover a whole new genre you'll love.
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