Christian Cieri – Illustrator

As one of UR’s acapella groups, the Yellowjackets capture the true meaning of “meliora.” with their highly choreographed shows and wacky antics, the group raises the bar with each semester. This semester, the Yellowjackets have big plans up their sleeves with their upcoming show, “The Tonight Show starring the Yellowjackets,” which premieres Saturday, April 4 at 8pm in Strong Auditorium.

Jeff Howard: What’s it like to be a Yellowjacket?

Luke Metzler: It’s really special. I’m a junior now and it was a big part of my freshman year, it was such a cool brotherhood to be a part of. It’s definitely been the most elite musical experience I’ve had of my life. It’s cool to make music with your friends and really challenge yourself.

Abhishek Sharma: to add on to that, I completely agree with Luke. I think being in the Yellowjackets has been the most formative experience of my collegiate career. Having the ability and even the responsibility of giving back to our communities and being part of the Yellowjackets has allowed me to do a lot of cool things.

Chris Ostwald: I think it takes a lot of hard work and dedication and commitment. You get a lot out of it. It’s something I couldn’t get out of working with any other group of people, or any other endeavor.

JH: So, you guys have “The Tonight Show with the Yellowjackets” show coming up this weekend. Tell us what that’s all about.

AS: We’ve all grown up watching these wonderful shows like “The Tonight Show,” “The Daily Show” and “Steven Colbert.” This is basically our take on what that all represents. It’s about being funny in a way that’s accessible to the audience. We’re doing a lot of cool videos and banter for the audience.

LM: Dean Burns is going to be a special guest at our show, doing a celebrity interview a la Jimmy Fallon.

JH: What’s it like to audition for the Yellowjackets?

AS: We’ll walk you through what it’s like. A person comes in, we greet them, and they’ve prepared a piece for us. We warm them up and get their vocals ready, and then we test their vocal range. That’s just one aspect of it. We get to find out who they are, ask them funny questions, see how they act on their feet. After the callback it’s about seeing how the person would fit in with the group and who we together view the world and how we view what it means too be a Yellowjackets on this campus.

CO: We’re auditioning members, not just singers. We look for fitting in, meshing in with the group. We rehearse at least 10 hours a week and have 5 gigs a week. Between that we spend hours as a collective unit and what we’re testing for in that audition is whether we’re willing to spend 15-20 hours a week with that person for the next 3-4 years.

JH: Were any of you guys on “The Sing Off?”

AS: I was. It was an incredible experience. It came right off the heels of the “United We Sing” project in Kenya. We worked with a choir there and taught them our music, Lady Gaga and such. We learned a lot about the power of music as a social tool and an a means of bringing hope and inspiration in places where it’s needed the most. Being in Hollywood was like the complete other end of the spectrum. Hollywood is Hollywood. Being on the set, being on stage and singing for an expansive amount of people in front of famous judges was an amazing experience. It brought out the best of us as musicians and as people. we learned so much form the experience. It really dictated the way we run rehearsals now and pic new songs to learn. It’s all about that intense rigor and striving to be more and more perfect.

LM: Also I’m involved in “The Buzz” program at School 58. It’s an elementary school a cappella group and a high-school a cappella group. It’s really cool. It’s once a week and some of the guys and me just head over and have a great time teaching them songs and singing. We have a concert coming up in May.

JH: Do you guys take notes on what other a cappella groups are doing?

AS: In England we were lucky enough to go to Imperial College and hang out with “The Techtonics”, which is their premier a cappella group. They came two years ago to UR and we housed them, so this was our chance to visit them. For me, the coolest experience was seeing how they viewed texture in music and how they separated their voices different from us. Not just how cool and tight they were, but how they view musicality. It was cool to talk to their director and get some pointers. One of the arrangements we’re doing now has some of those textural ideas.

JH: Anything else you guys want to plug?

LM: Basically, the show is going to be so fun. There’s going to be a lot of zany, weird things. Come, experience it for yourself, it’s gonna be a great show.

Howard is a member of the class of 2017.

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