Star Apps: Pentatonix

Pentatonix tenor Mitch Grassi sings praise for a cappella, electronic music, social media, and his favorite apps.

Between the success of "The Sing-Off" and "Pitch Perfect," it's fair to say that a cappella is making a comeback. Pentatonix, a five-piece vocal group fresh off a well-attended European tour, has been reaping the benefits of the increased interest. The group has garnered 4.5 million subscribers and 300 million views on the Pentatonix YouTube channel; has released a top 10 album, "PTX Volume 2"; sold out its entire North American tour, which runs from February 4 to April 10; collaborated with Lucky Charms cereal on its 50th anniversary commercial, which premieres during CBS's 2014 Grammy broadcast; and is set to appear on "Sesame Street" on February 7. Download.com chatted with the quintet's tenor, Mitch Grassi, about a cappella, electronic music, social media, and his favorite apps.

A cappella-lypse: Pentatonix (with Mitch Grassi: front) destroys overly produced music one note at a time.

(Credit: Brandon Lyon)

What do you have to do to prepare for this tour?
Well, actually we were just preparing, because we've done the same set list for a year and a half now, and we want to bring something new to the table. As far as prep, we're just getting ready to feel the jet lag and language barriers. But we're looking at it in a positive light, because it's going to be incredible.

How do you explain the renewed interest in a cappella music?
I think it goes hand-in-hand with the success of "The Sing-Off" and "Pitch Perfect," which is all about a cappella groups. And more than that, I think people need something real and more organic. Everything is so overproduced and saturated on the Internet, so I think people are looking for something different, and I think we're a good bridge between mainstream and a cappella, because we do everything with our voices. But we do all these pop songs and flip them on their heads and give them our own unique spin.

Speaking of music styles, I've read that you're very into electronic music. How do you reconcile your love of electronic music with singing in an a cappella group?
I find it interesting, and eventually I want to be a music producer and make my own music and sing over it. But my interest in electronic music really shaped the sound of the band, because we're really into the electronic sounds, and it's easy for us to pick up on the dance sounds. I think people really like our dance music a lot.

Watch Pentatonix's seven-song Daft Punk medley, entitled "Daft Punk":

You all have such a huge social media presence, with millions of YouTube subscribers, 973,000 Facebook fans, and 224,000 Twitter followers. What is your social media strategy?
Aside from releasing YouTube material, we like to plan out our Facebook and Twitter, so we do get those crowds. But we just like to interact with our fans, which I think is the most important thing. They see we're real people and not just a product of the music industry. But yeah, we're constantly on Twitter, keeping them updated, and it's really helped out a lot.

While you're on the road, which apps will you use the most?
I'll probably use Twitter, because I use it a lot, regardless. I'll probably use an app called Songkick, because it allows you to see the concerts and shows in the area. I love Fancy, which is a shopping site for luxurious things. They're expensive, and it's fun to look at and see new things. And I play Candy Crush a lot. It's my new obsession. Also, Pitch Pipe Now, because we get the key of our songs with that app if we don't have a pitch pipe.

Don't let the photo fool you: Mitch Grassi favors Candy Crush over musical chairs any day.

(Credit: Brandon Lyon)

2014 U.S. Tour Dates

February
4 Midwestern State University Wichita Falls, TX
5 Cain's Ballroom Tulsa, OK
6 Gillioz Theatre Springfield, MO
8 Chicago Theatre Chicago, IL
9 Egyptian Room Indianapolis, IN
11 Milwaukee Riverside Theatre Milwaukee, WI
12 State Theater Minneapolis, MN
15 Paramount Theatre Denver, CO
17 The Complex-Rockwell Salt Lake City, UT
19 Vogue Theater Vancouver, BC
20 Paramount Theatre Seattle, WA
22 Fox Theater Oakland, CA
23 Grand Sierra Resort Reno, NV
25 Soma San Diego, CA
26 House of Blues Las Vegas, NV
27 Rialto Theatre Tucson, AZ

March
1 & 2 Orpheum Theatre Los Angeles, CA
19 Peabody Opera House St. Louis, MO
20 Robinson Center Music Hall Little Rock, AR
22 Ryman Auditorium Nashville, TN
23 Iron City Birmingham, AL
25 Hard Rock Live Orlando, FL
26 Georgia Theatre Athens, GA
27 The Fillmore Charlotte, NC
29 DAR Constitution Hall Washington DC
30 The Electric Factory Philadelphia, PA

April
3 & 10 Beacon Theatre New York, NY
5 & 6 House of Blues Boston, MA
8 Danforth Music Hall Toronto, ON
9 UB Center for the Arts Buffalo, NY


Check out the Pentatonix Lucky Charms commercial:

CNET Top 5
Companies Apple could buy with their billions
Apple's sitting on a massive pile of cash. Here are five interesting ways they could spend it.
Play Video
 

Member Comments