Straight No Chaser (Part 1)

Subscribe (It’s free!)

apple-podcasts
spotify-podcasts

What'd I Say

Straight No Chaser (Part 1)

S2, Ep. 5

Members of the famed a cappella group discuss recording their 2008 album, “Holiday Spirits,” describe the fateful call on a New Year’s Day that would eventually lead them to Atlantic Records, and reveal how four members were arrested on an east coast tour stop. This is the story of Straight No Chaser, like you’ve never heard it before.

The group’s new album, “One Shot,” is out now. A deluxe reissue of “Holiday Spirits,” in honor of its 10-year anniversary, is out now.

Episode Transcript

Intro: Hello and welcome to What’d I Say Presents: Straight No Chaser, “One Shot.” In part one of this four-part series, the group reminisce about their history, taking us through their college days. They then talk about how they got discovered by the world through YouTube, as well as discussing the wild ride along the way.

We then discuss the 10-year anniversary of their classic album Holiday Spirits, which gets reissued on Nov. 16, as well as their new album, “One Shot,” which comes out on Nov. 2. I’m going to let the guys introduce themselves and let them start the fun.

David Roberts: Hi. My name is Dave Roberts.

Steve Morgan: Hey, it’s Steve Morgan.

Randy Stine: Hey, this is Randy Stine.

Tyler Trepp: I’m Tyler Trepp.

Randy Stine: And we’re Straight No Chaser.

Randy Stine: Back in the day, a bunch of us were in Singing Hoosiers together, which is a show choir at Indiana University, and one guy in particular named Dan Ponce, wanted to put together an a capella group. We all kind of were loosely friends. We all knew each other from this ensemble, and we decided we’d throw together a group, basically to sing for girls or anyplace we would be allowed to sing on campus. Just through the network within the choir, several of us talked and had a meeting, and didn’t really hold auditions per se. It was kind of a closed audition process and got the ball rolling from there.

Steve Morgan: For the record, there was one guy who had to audition and that was me, because I was a freshman. I had to sing the high part for Africa in the music closet of the Singing Hoosier practice room.

Tyler Trepp: Did you really have to audition?

David Roberts: In fairness, Steve, nobody knew you. I knew you because we lived on the same floor in the dorm, but other than that, nobody really knew who you were. In fairness, that’s why. Otherwise, I think the rest of us got phone calls from Ponce. At least in my case, I was told I was singing baritone and when to show up for rehearsal.

Tyler Trepp: I did not know that, Steve. That’s interesting.

Steve Morgan: Yeah, lucky me.

David Roberts: We got together in Dr. Schwarzkopf’s office for our first rehearsal. I think it was “Longest Time,” and what was the other one we rehearsed that day? The one that Ponce used to sing.

Tyler Trepp: “One Fine Day?”

Steve Morgan: “One Fine Day.”

David Roberts: Yeah, “One Fine Day.” We just kind of snowballed from there. Just started singing around campus, like Randy said. And then our first concert was in Alumni Hall. Randy, you have the date on that?

Randy Stine: November 3rd, 1997, was our first headlining concert.

Steve Morgan: But our first performance was back at Dance Marathon in October of 1996. And I would assure you there was some terrible music made on that stage. Somehow everybody enjoyed it and we said, “Okay, I guess we should keep doing this.” So, we sang at every sorority, every dorm. I mean, every restaurant. Anyplace anybody would listen to us. That was what we did. We’d just busted out a song.

Randy Stine: Yeah, I remember singing at a place called Damon’s in college and we were singing, literally, just for the people in the waiting room area just to get publicity. There was a certain section of a song that had a pause in it. I believe it was like, “And she’s gotta say…” and in the background, “Marlin, party of six.” It was in the middle of our song. So, we sang anywhere and everywhere that would have us.

Steve Morgan: And a lot of places that wouldn’t.

Randy Stine: Oh yeah.

David Roberts: Do we want to talk about the east coast gig?

Steve Morgan: It’s probably time.

Randy Stine: That was probably the worst of times.

David Roberts: “It was the best of times, and the worst of times.”

Steve Morgan: Yeah, in our second year, we went out to the East Coast. We’d set up just a couple of shows. We were doing an invitational out in Boston with a few groups, and then we were also going to be performing at Walt and at Patrick’s high schools. We didn’t have a lot to do, but we were gonna go out and have fun. We went to New York for a day, all this fun stuff.

Then, the day we were driving to and from Boston, we’re going by the lovely town of Newburgh, New York. We all remember it fondly, now. I don’t think we’ll ever forget it, actually. As we went by this one place, they had this giant sign out front that said: “We have donuts.” And well, being a bunch of knuckle-headed college students, we decided we needed that sign. So, we went to try to take it down and we got run off. They called the cops on us and we were out high-tailing it through the back of a mall, as luck would have it, and got out.

On the way back, one car, I think it was three basses and myself, if I remember correctly. So, it was Charlie, Randy, Patrick Hachey, and me. We took off and the other guys were in my car. They said: “We’re going to get the sign, guys.” We’re like: “Just don’t do anything stupid, guys. We’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

The next day, we show up. It was already a foregone conclusion that stupidity was going to be involved. So, the next morning, the three basses and me show up at Walt’s high school for the show, and the other car doesn’t show up! We wait around for 45 minutes. There’s a full school assembly that’s been called and that’s just sitting there waiting to hear from us, and we can’t cover a single song. That was about it. That’s the extent.

As we’re walking out of the high school, I said: “Alright, does anybody know the police number in Newburgh, New York? We’ve got to get this sorted out.” For the next two weeks, there was no admission of guilt. It was, “Steve’s car broke down. We had to get it fixed.” Then, the evening we were at an a capella competition in St. Louis, Missouri, after we had won and found out we were going to Carnegie Hall, we’re all going crazy, DR stands on top of the bed and goes, “Hey guys, two weeks ago…” and goes through and tells the whole story. “And that’s when we got arrested and that’s why we missed the show.” So, we drove all the way to the East Coast for one single solitary gig in Boston, which ended up being in a classroom or something like that. It’s a story we’ll never forget.

David Roberts: No, we got arrested in Newburgh, New York. The arresting officer, as it were-

Tyler Trepp: He was a huge fan!

David Roberts: Yeah, he is now! He told us at the time that normally he would let it go with a warning but he was working a double and happened to be the guy that was called in the morning to chase off a couple of punk college kids with Indiana plates. So, he’s like: “I let you go this morning, but I’m not letting you go tonight.”

We’re put up in the finest accommodations of the Newburgh, New York police precinct. There were four cells there, one for each of us. We were not allowed a phone call. We were taken in front of the judge in shackles at about 7:30, 8:00 in the morning. About the time we were supposed to be addressing an assembly. Walt’s high school. The judge waxed eloquent for a while about how not smart it was for us to do that, but then, eventually, let us all go because none of us had any priors and we were all being as respectful as you would imagine we would be in that situation. It was an experience, for sure.

Steve Morgan: The up side is I hear you get a very good breakfast sandwich at the Newburgh, New York penitentiary, or whatever!

David Roberts: Sandwich, yeah. It was like a piece of stale bread and some butter. Although, when they were entering all of us, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this part. When they were entering all of our information into the computers in Newburgh, they asked us in alphabetical of last name. They asked us what our names were, date of birth, all that information. The last question they asked was, did we have any aliases? So, of course, Walt at the time changed his name since then, but at the time, his name was last, alphabetically. I think it was Jerome that busted out laughing and said, “Oh, we call him Fatty!” And the cop leans back with a big grin on his face and he goes, “F-A-T-T-Y?” We’re like, “That’s it!” So, Walt’s legal alias in the state of New York is Fatty.

Tyler Trepp: Nice.

Randy Stine: College, overall for us, was a fantastic experience. I mean, this, in a way, we kind of joked became our major. We spent more time, probably, rehearsing and performing than we did sometimes attending classes. Which, even led some of us to leave the show choir that we formed in, because we had more gigs and more opportunities for our own group than we did from the original show choir. We spent a lot of our waking hours after classes, between classes, both doing the rehearsals, the performances, and also marketing and then even, eventually, recording some albums in college, as well.

Steve Morgan: One of our first opportunities to kind of go out and experience the a capella scene outside of the IU campus, we got a call, Dan was friends with some of the guys who went to the University of Illinois. We got a call from them. I think it was one day, it was like 2:00 in the afternoon. They said: “We’ve got a show tonight. One of the groups that we had invited for this invitational backed out. Can you guys be here?” At this point, this is pre-text messaging and all that sort of thing. So, it’s just a phone tree going, “Alright, let’s roll out. We’re leaving in two hours. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!”

We rolled strong. We rolled in two or three cars. Showed up. Did our gig. It was our first time really kind of exploring, again, other groups and hearing what else was out there. Still, my favorite quote of the evening was one of the guys who, later on, was definitely remiss for inviting us. He said, “They came. They showed us up. And they took our women.” We felt like real-life pirates.

Randy Stine: We crashed on couches. We basically slept any place they let us sleep, as the visiting group. I remember the next morning, getting up and a couple of the guys and I had crashed in somebody’s apartment. We didn’t know them. They were all still asleep. We got up to get our cars and get out of there, and we were like, “Wait a minute. Who else is still here? Who else is still on campus? Who didn’t get a ride? Who’s asleep in someone’s house that we don’t know about?” It was an adventure that morning, just trying to track down, “Well, I think I saw this guy fall asleep on this couch, but I don’t remember what house that was that we were in.” And, of course, none of us had cell phones. We couldn’t track down anybody. We just knew that 10 of us were spread out on a random campus in Illinois. It was a work to try to find anybody to make sure everyone got a ride back the four or five hour drive, whatever it was, back to Bloomington.

Steve Morgan: Gosh, those were the days! I spent an entire night of sleep one time spread eagle on the middle of a party floor. I was definitely out before the party ended, in Michigan the next year, just because that’s where I fell asleep. Somebody woke me up about 8 AM said, “Come on, we gotta go.” “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.” That was life! I think the story was probably before that.

David Roberts: I would say the story probably culminates in us being, as, I think, Steve mentioned earlier that we won the sectionals to make it to the finals of the Collegiate Acapella Competition that were being held in Carnegie Hall that year. We all rode-tripped out to New York and we performed in Carnegie Hall. We were officially given second place, but we found out afterwards that our scorecards were tied and that they gave it to the other group because nobody had ever heard of Straight No Chaser before.

Steve Morgan: We were two years old, the other group, I believe, was at least 50 years old.

David Roberts: Men’s Octet?

Randy Stine: Yeah, it was their 50th anniversary, and we had a couple of the judges who were not happy with the public outcome of it and kind of came and privately told us what went on. I believe, after that, that competition went away for two or three years, at least. Took down the guy that had been running it and I think they renamed the whole competition and have a different group of people running it now.

David Roberts: Yeah, it was down for at least a year and then we came back, sort of the first generation of Straight No Chaser, when we had brought in Ryan and Mike and Pat Hachey and a couple other guys to replace a couple guys that had graduated and moved on. We had graduated, and as we were graduating, some of us took a couple extra years. I won’t name names. Two of whom are speaking on this right now. One might be speaking literally right now. You know, it’s not important who, really.

Tyler Trepp: Right, yes.

David Roberts: But, a couple guys stuck around for whatever reason and helped audition and bring on some new members, Ryan Ahlwardt and Mike Luginbill being two of those new members. When we graduated, they auditioned new members and we left the group as a legacy at the University. Which was, ultimately, sort of our original goal, was to be able to come back twenty years and see a Straight No Chaser concert at the University.

Steve Morgan: Yeah, so I think alumni of Straight No Chaser now number over a hundred, at least, which is really cool.

David Roberts: I think it’s closer to 200 now.

Steve Morgan: Is it?

David Roberts: Yeah.

Tyler Trepp: That’s kind of where my story begins. I had been kind of quiet there, because I am not an “original guy.” I had heard about them in high school and was actually given a CD of Live at Alumni Hall when I was in high school. A guy in my show choir said, “Listen, you like acapella, listen to these guys!” I was like: “Oh, my gosh. This is really cool. This would be really cool to do.” I joined the group in 2003 and had a lot of the similar experiences that these guys did.

What they didn’t tell you is they had made a name for themselves on campus. I mean; besides the basketball team, I would say, the next most popular group was probably Straight No Chaser. We were at sororities and every campus event, IU Sing and Little Five. By the time I got there, they were this huge thing. My generation, all our group wanted to do was to keep it there. Like I said, we had a lot of the same experiences, going to different schools, invitationals, doing the national competitions and stuff. That’s all we tried to do is to keep their legacy going, and I did the same thing when I graduated.

Steve Morgan: I would say one of the key parts of our legacy and becoming a legacy was that we, towards the end of the original group’s time, we became sponsored by the alumni association. The head of the alumni association was a gentleman named Gerry Tardy, and he saw one of our shows and said, “These guys would be incredible ambassadors for the University.” When they would have alumni events across the country, he would take us. Parade us out there, let us sing a few songs. We travel light. Just the voices, that’s all we need. He would bring us along and then we’d kind of do meet-and-greets and talked about the University, talk about what was going on campus with alumni. I think having that sponsorship, having somebody to kind of shepherd us through, especially those first few years of making the transition to new members, that was integral in maintaining the legacy of the group.

David Roberts: Totally agree. All of us have a soft spot in our hearts for Gerry Tardy. He, unfortunately, passed away in the early 2000s. Complications to cancer. He was integral in keeping the group together as a legacy at the University.

Randy Stine: All of us, for the most part, became functioning adults with “real jobs,” although some guys still got to kind of try to “live the dream.” Steve, for example, moved to New York. Ended up on Broadway. Steve, do you want to talk about that?

Steve Morgan: I don’t know that I care for not being called a functional adult, Randy!

Randy Stine: Still functional!

Steve Morgan: When we first started having graduations, five of us went down to Atlanta. So, it was me, Jerome, Charlie, Dan Ponce, and Mike Itkoff, who was also in the 2008 iteration of Straight No Chaser, when we got back together. We were looking to do pop, top 40 music. Got signed to RCA Urban for a time. Had some great meetings, got to go sing at some cool places. Boston, and New York, and outside of Nashville and L.A. Then, 9/11 happened, Napster all happened. All those sorts of things that kind of threw the recording industry into a funk, which it’s still dealing with, I would say.

At that time, Charlie and I decided, “Hey, let’s get out of here. Let’s go to New York and try to do musical theater,” which was something, I think each of us, individually, had thought we would do, from the get-go. We went up there. Actually, Charlie and I were in a national tour of Seussical the Musical together. The two of us, along with another IU grad, a good friend of ours, John Armstrong. We were the three Wickersham Brothers, the antagonistic monkeys. Never has there been better typecasting.

From there, just kind of kept doing things. New York, it was all about trying to keep making forward progress. I was very fortunate to get to do a couple of Broadway shows. One was the Beach Boys show. My Broadway debut was the Beach Boys show, Good Vibrations. Now, my party trick is I think I know about seven parts to every Beach Boys song. Then, I did about two and a half years, that’s about 1,000 shows of Mamma Mia! That’s a lot of ABBA, but it was a great time. Then, I moved out of New York. Went back to Indiana to get my MBA when my wife was pregnant with our first child, who’s now nine. It’s crazy.

Randy Stine: That was right about the time that we got signed, right? With Atlantic. It was not a great time for you to be taking that kind of risk.

Steve Morgan: It was not! It was not. It was one of the main reasons I stepped away about a month before she was born. My last show with Straight No Chaser, the professional group, was on Christmas Day of 2008, when we sang for the Cleveland Cavaliers game.

Randy Stine: When Tyler was actually still in the group back in college, we had a reunion where the current group in the University had us back for a 10 year reunion in 2006. Knowing that was coming up, I did the work of digging out these old tapes that were originally recorded on Betacam, which is not easy find a Betacam machine. Also, then having to transfer it to another tape and getting it over onto a computer. I did that, though, and just threw up some clips on YouTube for us to kind of relive the college days from a concert that we did in 1998, that no one had ever seen or heard. I threw that together as just kind of a thing for us. We went back to the University, had a great time singing with the current group. These clips went online in April of 2006. By December of 2007, we’d hit 100,000 views on one clip in particular, which was “The 12 Days of Christmas.” We were all kind of emailing back and forth and joking about what it could mean. A video going viral on YouTube was a new thing, at the time.

Within another week or two, suddenly we hit a half a million, and then a million, two million, four million, and up to seven million in a couple of weeks’ time in December of 2007. From there, we got a bunch of interesting, mostly sketchy contacts from labels that wanted to buy the rights to the music or wanted to license it and all of it seems pretty not on the up-and-up. We all kind of joked about it and didn’t really think much about it.

Then, I got an email from a very obscure YouTube name that was a couple of letters and a couple of digits. It said: “Hey, this is Craig from Atlantic records. Can I give you a call sometime?” I gave him my phone number, thinking it was along the same lines of all the other kind of contact we’d had. On New Year’s Day, 2008, Craig called me directly. I thought it was, pretty much, a prank, because all the things he was talking about seemed all too good to be true and kind of like a dream come true. I kept thinking to myself, “Which one of my friends can make their voice sound like this? Who’s calling me? This isn’t somebody from the label.” And he said, “Let’s get together. Let’s have dinner in Los Angeles and talk about the options for this group. Can you get everybody back together and come to New York?” And a couple weeks later, we had the entire group fly to New York and we sang in the Atlantic main conference room there in Manhattan.

I remember all of us were nervous, because we hadn’t really sung together in eight years, or something like that, other than singing at each other’s weddings or getting together for fun. I remember as we sang in their main offices, Craig is standing at the back with some other staff and he kind of has this very serious look, rubs his chin a little bit, and then just walks out of the room. You could just feel the energy just drain from all of us, thinking, “Well, we just blew it! If they were interested, they’re no longer interested now!” We finished the song, got a small round of applause from the Atlantic staff that was in there, but at the end of it, Craig walked back in with his legal team and said, “Alright, well, who’s your attorney? If you don’t have an attorney, get one. We’ve got to work out this deal and get this album done before Christmas season, this year.” That’s how it all got started for us.

David Roberts: There was only a couple of guys that were actually married, at that point. Actually, I think it was just Steve, right?

Steve Morgan: Me-

Randy Stine: Steve and Charlie?

Steve Morgan: Charlie wasn’t married yet. I was married. I got married two years before. Walt was married.

David Roberts: Walt was married, and Ryan.

Tyler Trepp: Yeah, Ryan was married. He got married in, like, 2006.

Randy Stine: Charlie, I think, got married within a month or two after that. It was like we were scheduling rehearsals around his wedding.

David Roberts: I’ll have to let Steve speak to how the wives felt about it. For the rest of us, I was working sort of a desk job in a cubicle right there in New York City, so after that, these guys that had all flown in from out of town, mostly, grabbed drinks and sort of celebrated. I had to go back to work.

Steve Morgan: Sucker.

Randy Stine: A free reunion in New York. We’re like, “Alright!” You know, get free hotels and flights to New York. We all get to hang out. If nothing else comes of it, that’s cool on its own.

Tyler Trepp: In retrospect, DR, that was stupid.

David Roberts: Going back to work?

Tyler Trepp: Yeah.

David Roberts: They paid me for a full year and a half after that.

Tyler Trepp: Okay, okay.

David Roberts: For doing very, very little, I might add. I was so checked out of that job.
Steve Morgan: That was an interesting time, in and of itself. We were putting the arrangements together ourselves, and then, because everybody was still working their regular jobs, we decided we’d rehearse on weekends. However, I was still in Mamma Mia! at the time, so I didn’t have weekends off. In fact, I had four shows, between Saturday and Sunday. The guys would fly in on, I guess, Friday night. We would start rehearsal at nine or 10 in the morning. I’d run to a show. Come back, rehearse again until my evening show, and then the guys would go get dinner. We would do that probably twice a month, two or three months?

Randy Stine: Yeah, two or three months, at least.

Steve Morgan: Randy had a little recorder that we would put together all of these demos as we rehearsed them. We would send those recordings over to Atlantic, to see where their head was at, what they would approve, what they wanted us to record. All parties definitely had some input here, especially since we were nobodies and we were very beholden to what their thoughts were. We would send over the recordings, and they’d say, “Yes [or] no,” and we’d go from there. Once we had about 15 songs or so, we booked time back at Airtime Studios in Bloomington, Indiana, back where we recorded everything in college. We went back there for about three weeks, I guess, and recorded the entire album over the summer.

Randy Stine: What was interesting for us at the start was Atlantic, I think, didn’t really know, exactly what to do with us. We were brought in by Craig, and when Craig sent out an email describing what we were, “Here’s a link to the YouTube video, here’s this new group that got signed,” we found out later that one of the project managers wrote back and said, “Ha ha, Craig, April Fool’s is not for another couple of months!” Like, they really thought it was not a serious thing. It was, like, a prank by Craig.

I think during the first recording process, I don’t think there was a lot of eyes on us, as far as discriminating what songs we were doing. I think we’d send things in and we kind of heard, “Yeah. That’s great. Works!” We didn’t get a lot of negative pushback, because I think they weren’t quite sure which way we were going to go or how to steer us. We had, I think, quite a bit of freedom on the first album, which might be unusual for a new signing.

Tyler Trepp: I think a capella was just, mainly, a collegiate thing, up until that point. There was no, really, professional a capella groups. I’m sure that the label people were like, “Well, do we have these guys do all originals or do we have them do covers? We don’t know what to do here.” We were, like, the first acapella group to do this, so it was kind of new for everybody.

Steve Morgan: Yeah. To piggy back on what you’re saying, Tyler, you have to remember the context of when this was. In 2008, this is pre-Pitch Perfect. This is pre-The Sing Off. The last a capella tunes you had really heard on the radio were: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” the Boyz II Men song, the All-4-One song. They were much more one-off songs. It was the one-off songs that were thrown on to an album. Certainly, nobody in mainstream had done a full a capella album. This was a brand new world for, maybe it’s a brand old world, in terms of it being an older type of music. It was a return to something that hadn’t been done in a long time.

David Roberts: All of the above, like, we didn’t go out and quit our jobs right away, those of us that were working stiff jobs, because we all kind of assumed that it was going to be a fun one-and-done kind of a thing. We put the album together sort of the same way we did in college, which was having a lot of fun doing it, especially back in Bloomington, hitting the old haunts.

Well, for me, I was still working my job, so I had to take two weeks off to go do the record. I had sub-let my place for a couple weeks, for the two weeks when we were doing the record. Jerome and I lived near each other in New York, so we headed to the airport and our flight was canceled. I couldn’t go back to my place because I had sub-let it, so I was sort of stuck in New York for the night, despite it being where I lived. I crashed on Jerome’s couch and then we flew to Bloomington for the start of the record.

Steve Morgan: We were not living in the lap of luxury while we recorded this thing. We were rolling two-deep at the Motel 6 on-

David Roberts: No, no, no. We had our own rooms at the Motel 6, that was the trade-off.

Steve Morgan: I don’t think we did.

David Roberts: Yes, we did. We absolutely did.

Steve Morgan: Did we?

David Roberts: Absolutely did.

Steve Morgan: Okay.

David Roberts: Because I took over sort of the business role for the group. I’m curious to know if this is true or not. The only person signed to Atlantic that has an MBA, at least the first. Now, Steve would be, maybe, the second.

Steve Morgan: Yes.

David Roberts: Alright. Well, if anybody wants to fact-check that, I would be curious to know. At any rate, I took over that role. I had doubled everybody up, because we didn’t have a whole lot of money, didn’t have a big budget for this, but guys suggested that they would prefer to have their own rooms. So, I found the only place that could do it within our budget was Motel 6. Yeah, they were not luxurious.

Tyler Trepp: No, way. 26 dollars a night?

David Roberts: Yeah, yeah.

Steve Morgan: It was July in Bloomington. There’s nobody there.

David Roberts: Yeah, and they gave us a discount, because we were there for two weeks. I think the reg rate was, like, 50 bucks a night and they bumped it down to-

Tyler Trepp: Oh, my gosh.

David Roberts: It was ridiculous. It was gross.

Randy Stine: There were, I believe, a couple guys who went and bought other blankets and stuff to try to deal with bedbugs and other kind of problems at the hotel. We were new to this, and I think we were issued a check for, “Here’s how much you have to make this record.” All of us were so thrifty, basically, we’re like, “Hey! Let’s make this for one quarter of what this check is worth! Let’s cut down every possible cost we can,” because the way we viewed it, it was our money and we didn’t want to frivolously spend it.

David Roberts: And it had to stretch over not just the recording costs and the mixing and the travel for recording, but also had to stretch over travel for rehearsals and those several rehearsal weekends. We made it work. We had a little bit left over that we then tried to use for that first promotional tour, but it was tight. It was a shoe-string budget, to say the least.

Tyler Trepp: Nice. I think, is that not Super 8?

Randy Stine: No, that’s Motel 6. What I remember about that time period was I was the first to quit my job, because I was in sales. I would travel, I’d bring my laptop down to record and I would be working from the studio. I had a boss who loved to call just random, last-minute meetings, because all of us got to work from home that worked for this company. He would decide to have these last-minute meetings. He was kind of a not a great guy, and so when he would call these last-minute meetings, it was always at the Hooters by his house. No office to go to, no actual meeting. It was always at Hooters, and it was always, like, 10 minutes of him giving a rah-rah speech about, “Hey! Third quarter sales, we’re gonna knock it out of the park!” This kind of thing.

I was in the studio and get an email saying, “Hey, there’s a meeting tomorrow at 3 PM” I’m thinking, “Do I want to drive five hours back and then five hours back to the studio just for this meeting that I know is going to be worthless?” He told me that I had to be there, it was a mandatory meeting, no one can not be at the meeting. I told him I couldn’t make it, and he said, “Well, if you’re not gonna make it, you’ll have to quit.” I wrote back and said, “Fine. I quit.” Then he said, “Well, you have to come to the meeting then, to turn in your laptop.” And I said, “No, I’ll just mail it in.” But, I was the first to quit because of a boss who wanted me to go meet for 15 minutes at Hooters in Chicago.

David Roberts: Well, I don’t think any stress or any indicator that it was going to be anything at all really happened for at least another year. We had some small indications like, I think we found out through some friends of ours at Atlantic that expectation of that album was to seel around 20,000 copies. I think we sold 120,000 copies in the first three months, so that Christmas season of 2008 it quadrupled how they thought it was going to perform. We did, what, eight shows?

Steve Morgan: I think 11. Eleven is what I heard.

Randy Stine: Yeah. We had a couple of moments, like, we were on the cover of the New York Times Arts section. I remember all of us were like, “Wow! This is actually happening!” And then on the other spectrum, we end up in Los Angeles for a promo at Barnes & Noble and they have this poster of the album cover that’s like the size of a wall and all these stanchions cordoning off people to wait in line to meet us and stuff. There was a signing table we’re all sitting at. I think the only people who came through to meet us were the people who worked in the store that had to do it. It was one of those kind of like, “This is awesome! Oh, wow. Okay.” There was always a nice gut-check.

Steve Morgan: Nobody there?

Randy Stine: Yeah, no one there to see us. Huge posters.

Steve Morgan: Hey! That homeless guy who came through really seemed interested. It was so funny.

Randy Stine: Early on, I remember standing next to Dan Ponce at a bar in a line to get in and this guy comes up. He’s like, “Hey, man! I know you!” And he just goes on and on about, “I’m your biggest fan! I love seeing you da da da da da.” And Dan’s like, “Oh, really? Where have you seen?” He’s like, “You do those carpet commercials, right?” I’m just like, “Nope.” There was plenty of that.

Tyler Trepp: 800-588-2300 (singing).

Steve Morgan: We did have a couple moments. When we were on the Today Show, was it a Sunday? Or something like that. As we watched the iTunes charts that day, we briefly popped up to number one, and we’re going, “Oh, my God! Can you believe it?” Somewhere, there’s a screenshot of that, I’m sure. We had the highs and lows. We experienced both those in 2008.

David Roberts: Was that the Today Show appearance where Chaser was coined?

Steve Morgan: It was! It was. Yes. Kathie Lee Gifford. We were on with Hoda and Kathie Lee. The way we got on to that one was because one of the dressers at the Today Show who dressed Kathie Lee, when she was there, was a guy who was one of the dressers at Mamma Mia! So, when the album came out, Jim, love Jim to death, I see him every time we go into the Today Show, we have a nice little reunion. He gave her one of our CDs, and she said, “Oh, I like these guys! Let’s get them on.” That was how we first came to be on the Today Show, and we’ve continued to go back there every year.

David Roberts: And during that interview, Kathie Lee, did she ask if there was a fan for fans and we probably made a joke about not having any fans. She goes, “Well, I’m a Chaser,” or something to that effect, and it stuck. So now, our fans call themselves Chasers. Again, we were all working our day jobs and we tried to record sort of a full-length contemporary album that turned out to be our first, Six Pack. That was in February of 2009. Meanwhile, I’m trying to appear functional at my full-time job until they asked us to take a couple weeks off to do a couple songs for, like, another sort of holiday release. They liked the songs so much they asked for a full-length album. At the same time, we wanted to do a contemporary album, as well.

We had the green-light for two records, and I had just taken two or three weeks off from my job to do the first part of that and to do the PBS special, and then I went back in to my boss and said I needed another two months off to do another record and to do this first big tour that was being planned, and he just kind of looks at me and says, “How long have you known about this?” I must have given him a concerned look, because he said, “No, no, no. You’re taking me the wrong way. I mean, if you’ve known about this and you’ve time to think about it and digest it and you’ve talked about it with your family, then you can go do what you need to do. But, if you’re just finding out about this, I’m going to send you home so you can think about it.” We laughed about it and he let me go. Didn’t even need two weeks notice. That was when sort of I jumped into Straight No Chaser full-time, end of August, 2009. That’s when we had the request for two records and a full three month tour planned. But still, no guarantees.

Tyler Trepp: Eleven shows, you were in vans and didn’t you owe money?

David Roberts: We did owe money at the end of the first, it wasn’t really a tour, necessarily, it was more like a bunch of promotional stops, with a few shows tied in. It was flights, cheap hotels, and rented minivans. It was just exhausting. Definitely, at the end of it, we were in the hole for some travel expenses.

Randy Stine: I don’t remember if that was the tour or it was the tour after that, but we were sponsored by Southwest Airlines. I love Southwest, but it was an awkward set-up, because we didn’t fully know what we were getting in to. We had free flights, but touring with flights rather than tour buses is a whole nother thing, a whole nother story, when you have to get up at four or five in the morning, catch 6 AM flights. Made even more awkward is going to the airport at that early and then being told, “Oh, yeah. Every time you guys get to the gate; you guys have to do three songs for everyone who’s in the waiting area.” Somebody in a Southwest polo shirt would come out.

It was also, this was a couple years after 9/11 and those types of things, and so it was kind of awkward because this guy would come out, cup his hands over his mouth, and yell, “This is Straight No Chaser!” Just try to get everyone’s attention for us. Then, we had to stand there and sing “12 Days of Christmas” and two other songs. Then, of course, with their boarding policy, you get to stand in line with all these people that you just sang for. It was not a good look for us, because I remember people would be like, “Oh, that’s so cute! Are you guys on a mission trip?” Or, “Oh, what school are you guys from?” It was not at all like, “Oh, Atlantic Records recording artist!” I don’t think you’d see Bruno kind of standing next to the gate doing “Locked Out of Heaven” for an audience in an airport. That was another thing I remember from that early part.

The other thing I was gonna mention what Tyler was saying was after that, we went in to record Six Pack, and Six Pack, we were just chomping at the bit to get to record some non-holiday stuff. I think we weren’t fully-formed as a group in the sense that we didn’t have enough arrangements ready to go to hit the recording studio. We all went to New York; I think it was February or March of 2009 and basically were living in sub-letted New York apartments for that time period. When we finally finished that recording process, we had, I think, probably, 10 or 12 songs done. Craig from Atlantic came back and said, “Too many of these are copies of the original. Why would I listen to yours if I can listen to Justin Timberlake singing the same song, exactly the same way?”

That was kind of a shot in the arm for us, in a good way, that motivated us to change how we approached music and approached arranging for the next double album. Basically, a recording session of recording a pop album and Christmas. We knew that we had to put a twist on things and have a reason to do a song differently than the original, which is how we led to the first pop album, which was called “With a Twist.”

Tyler Trepp: Great segue!

Randy Stine: I don’t want to do all the talking, but I think it was kind of a realizing if you could AB a recording of us and the original, that’s too boring. Set a different tempo, take a different tone, put a reggae twist on a song that was never reggae at all, to begin with. By slowing songs down or doing them in another artist’s style, it really led to much more interesting work, and I think that is why some of our songs that have done well for us have those twists. Obviously, “12 Days” is a complete twist throughout the whole arrangement, but other songs like “I’m Yours,” adding “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was really, I think, what made that song stand out from Jason Mraz, his original version.

Tyler Trepp: Just before that, in the summer, I think, didn’t Atlantic kind of help us out with getting Deke involved?

David Roberts: That’s when The Sing Off was sort of first getting going, and I think Pitch Perfect was sort of around that same time, too. They reached out to Deke and he came in and helped us out with those two albums and spent about a month with us in Bloomington. Shout-out to Deke Sharon, Godfather of a capella.

Tyler Trepp: That’s right. Then also, I think right before that was when we did the PBS special, that August.

David Roberts: Yeah, it was your, Tyler’s, and Seggie’s first gig with us. Talk about thrown to the wolves! We held sort of a very closed private audition. We’d invited some of the alumni from the collegiate group to come and audition for us. The first two guys we wanted couldn’t do it and so we took Seggie and Tyler.

Tyler Trepp: Ha ha ha!

David Roberts: A couple of the guys, well, Steve had already told us in this interview, here, that he had a little girl on the way and couldn’t take the risk on of jumping out there and making no money for a few years while his wife and his new baby girl needed a father around, so Steve had to step aside and Mike Itkoff was the only other guy who had a family, as well. But-

Steve Morgan: And a good job.

David Roberts: Yeah. “Golden handcuffs,” as he puts it. He stepped aside, as well, so we needed to replace the two that had departed. We looked around, and we ended up taking Seggie and Tyler. All kidding aside, I don’t think any of us have ever looked back on that decision. We couldn’t have made a better choice. Those guys have been solid.

Tyler Trepp: I appreciate that.

David Roberts: Send the 20 bucks.

Tyler Trepp: Davidroberts@gmail.com? I had, of course, followed these guys as they were getting signed, which was pretty crazy. I was singing on cruise ships with Charlie, another original member, his brother, Luke. We were signing on cruise ships, so he was kind of filling me in on what these guys were doing. He was like, “Yeah! Straight No Chaser’s getting signed to a record deal!” I was like, “This is crazy. This is cool.” In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “It would be cool to one day do this, too. This would be really awesome.” Then I got an email from Walt and Dan one day. They said they wanted to have auditions, and the rest is kind of history. It was pretty surreal, just like DR said. The first time we had gotten together with the group was this big nationally televised PBS special that we had to learn all this music in a short period of time and perform this show. It moved very quickly, once I joined the group.

David Roberts: The next stage was sort of the intro to our legit touring operation, right? We’re in Bloomington recording what became With a Twist and Holiday Spirits, and when we finished that, we met our tour manager. He’s from Nashville. His name is Richard Corby. He showed up in a really nice tour bus and we were all just giddy as can be that here’s this amazing tour bus that we all get to ride around as we go do shows. It was something that none of us had ever thought possible. Yeah. A little bit of having sort of, it was just a collegiate reunion for us. A lot of really good friends from college getting back together doing what we loved to do in college and possibly getting paid for it. There was, at the time, all 10 of us, plus the tour manager on one tour bus, and we loved it!

Randy Stine: For us, it was amazing to roll up to places we had never dreamed of playing when we were in college, in the middle of Ohio or driving out to the West Coast and playing Denver on the way to playing Largo in L.A. and having the place packed and us just kind of thinking like, “How did these people hear of us? They really know this Christmas album? They know the new pop album?” That was, I think, really kind of humbling for us to see that the people would show up for these shows to places we’ve never been and our first tour ever. It really kind of gave us the positively that, “Hey, let’s really make this work.”

Randy Stine: That led to, I think 2010 and 11 might have been our biggest touring years ever, because even since then, we’ve purposely cut it down ourselves because of our own changes with everyone being married, everyone has kids now. We’ve all become more on the same page of what we want out of how much time we’re on the road and how much time we’re at home. Whereas, at the beginning, some guys were still even living at home with their parents and they’re like: “I want to be on the road all the time! I don’t want to be living with my parents, I don’t want to buy a place yet, let’s just travel constantly!”

Tyler Trepp: That wasn’t me, for sure. No, not 24-year-old Tyler. He was living on his own.

Randy Stine: That all led to 2010, which was a really kind of banner year for us, because that was our first year that we got booked by Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City to do a 40-show run. That was our first real production show where we had set pieces that moved and we had costume changes and choreographer and all sorts of things that we had not really experienced before, but it was great for us because it was, like, a three month boot camp of performing and rehearsing and running things every day with input from people outside of our immediate group that told us: “This looks great, this sounds great, these things don’t look good, these things don’t sound good.” I think that really ramped us up into be able to do a professional touring act for the last decade, now.

David Roberts: I couldn’t agree more, Randy, that we don’t give Harrah’s enough credit for allowing us and giving us the opportunity to become the act that we are now. The ability to have a show every night, it was like a laboratory for us, right? We could try out new jokes, try out new things, and then we really found a show that we’re able to do 40 times. Without that, without that stability and being able to go out and perform for an audience that didn’t know us so we had to go out and win over a new crowd, a new casino crowd every night, I think really helped us mature, as a group. Without those gigs those two summers, I have a hard time seeing us where we are now.

Tyler Trepp: I’ll just say, as far as audiences go throughout the country, we’ve done this for a while, casino crowds are probably the hardest, just because they have so many preferred VIP players that they give away all these tickets to. They’re just, “Oh, I got these tickets in my room, I guess I’ll go check out this show.” So, it’s a lot of people that have really never seen us before, really never heard about a capella, so I would say some of those crowds are probably the toughest. I remember that first summer where we’re trying to do the most entertaining show we could and it took us a while to kind of get it going and realize, “Okay, these are just people that have gotten free tickets. They may not like it, but that’s okay, too.

Randy Stine: Yeah, they might walk in six songs into the show or leave four songs before it’s over.

Tyler Trepp: Right. Or the first two rows are completely empty.

David Roberts: A lot of those fans are still with us.

Tyler Trepp: Yeah.

David Roberts: That come to see shows all across the country and even worldwide, in some cases.

Steve Morgan: Sometimes when they don’t know who you are, they’re just there to have a good time and that forced us to have a looseness about the show.

David Roberts: Absolutely right.

Randy Stine: To develop that kind of rat-packy, making fun of ourselves, making fun of what’s going on in the theater. People leaving, whatever it was, because we had to kind of keep ourselves entertained. Doing the same show for 40 nights, it allowed us to discover how to be loose on stage but still do the show we’re supposed to do.

David Roberts: Holiday Spirits being our first record, now having been out for 10 years. It’s gone gold. It’s incredible to think that we’ve been able to do this now for 10 years. What still gets me every year is when we’re doing a show, afterwards we go out into the lobby and we sign autographs. I hear a mom or some siblings come through the line and talk about how Holiday Spirits and now some of the other records that we’ve done have become their holiday traditions. That really always gets me emotional, because there were two or three vinyl records that my sisters and I used to listen to every year and we knew the lyrics to every track, every song, front and back. It wasn’t really the holiday season until we got those records out. Knowing that Holiday Spirits is now that for untold number of other families is really something special for me.

Randy Stine: I can agree with that. I think back to my childhood and Christmas and listening to Nat King Cole or Andy Williams or something where you know those vinyl records so well. That one song ends, and you know exactly what key and what song is coming in next. It doesn’t sound right unless you hear that next song. You had to listen to the whole album, because one song wasn’t enough. You had to know the whole progression. To have kids come through and say, “Well, I heard this song, and I really thought this song was coming next, because that’s how it is on the CD.” It was like, “Oh!” That’s how I remember my Christmas albums growing up, so that is a big thrill for all of us, I think, to know that the Christmas album, especially that first one, affected people so positively.

David Roberts: Well, when we were making it, it was, like, 95 degrees and humid in Bloomington in the middle of July, so it wasn’t exactly a Christmas vibe. Poor Tyler, we did a lot of pre-Tyler’s-

Tyler Trepp: It’s all good.

David Roberts: Being in the group, so Ty, if you want to jump in and talk about making Christmas records in the heat of July.

Tyler Trepp: Well, we’ve definitely taken Christmas in July to a new level. I mean, we’ve done however many Christmas albums in July. You’re kind of used to it now, but the first time that you do it, if you’re getting ready to do a song and it’s you’ve got to sing, “The holidays are here!” or whatever the “Jingle bells, jingle bells,” and you’re like, “Wait, it’s only July? I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt and I’ve got to go and record these songs about cold weather and snow and holidays and stuff?” It takes a little bit to get used to.

David Roberts: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” as I’m standing there in shorts and a t-shirt.

Steve Morgan: Back in 2008, when we were recording, we had everybody at the studio. All the time, all hands on deck, just ready to go at a moment’s notice. One of the things we did was we played a lot of corn hole. This is the game, throwing the bags. One day, the guys in the studio, they kept hearing something. It was coming through on the recording, and they tried to isolate it, they could not figure, they were walking around the studio. After they’d finally hit stop and walked outside, they realized that it was the corn hole bags hitting the board that was bleeding through into the studio on the recordings. They said, “Can you guys just not or move it or something?” We said, “Oh, sorry!” So, we were just ruining takes by playing corn hole outside in July in Bloomington and calling it work.

Tyler Trepp: Is that when we started with two buses? I forget when we made that-

David Roberts: We switched to two buses when we had lighting and-

Tyler Trepp: I don’t remember.

David Roberts: Because we had one bus for awhile there with our merch guy.

Tyler Trepp: Who we called “Merch.”

David Roberts: Cal Tolbert. Shout-out to Cal Tolbert.

Tyler Trepp: The first tour that I was on, it was one bus and 12 people on there, so I remember getting up for TV and stuff was hectic and everybody moving around. Then, yeah, we wised up and bit the bullet and got two buses, which was much more comfortable! Us poor artists, two tour buses.

Steve Morgan: I let you guys do the roughing of it, and then I came back in 2013, when you’d already moved into two buses.

Tyler Trepp: We had bigger bunks, everything. Oh, my gosh, our lives were so bad.

David Roberts: Yeah. It’s funny how you can complain about touring around on million dollar tour buses, eventually. You’re like, “Oh, man, this is so uncomfortable!”

Tyler Trepp: These limos.

Steve Morgan: “I can’t sleep, I’ve got to go in the back lounge and watch all this satellite TV. Oh, man!”

Tyler Trepp: There’s a running joke in our group, when someone just says, “These limos!” Which comes back to Harrah’s when they would take us to different events. They took us up to New York to do the national anthem for the Mets games, but they’d always take us in limos. Although limos were really cool to ride in, 10 guys in there was a little bit uncomfortable. Somebody one time said, “Man, we had to ride in those limos again?” And somebody was like, “Really? You’re complaining about a limo?”

David Roberts: At that period in time, it starts to get all jumbled together, because we’re doing tours, sometimes as many as 90 shows, particularly in the fall. Then, we’d get a couple of weeks off and then we’d go do 20 shows. Then we’d get a couple months off. During that time, we all have gotten engaged and married and now we all have kids. So, what we thought was going to be something that lasted, maybe, a year or just one record, we’ve taken that one shot now and dragged it out for 10 years and were actively working and making it last as long as possible.

Tyler Trepp: I think one of the things we do is, we’ve been fortunate enough to have those two Christmas albums do really well where the fall to first part of the year timeline has been touring. I think each year; we try to make our live show a little bit different than the last. Whether that’s new songs, or new jokes. We usually try to make a video before each show and make that kind of humorous and something that the audience can have fun with. That’s something that I think we always strive to do each year is to, “How can we make this fall tour or this fall show better than the last and have a wide range of ages in our shows and for it to be as entertaining as possible?”

Steve Morgan: Yeah. One of the hallmarks of our show, I believe, is that it appeals to multiple generations. Especially during the fall tour, we’ll have four generations come through the signing line at a show and saying, “We can all have something that we know, have something that we enjoy. There are very few shows out there that appeal to all of us.” That’s one of the things we definitely take into consideration when we’re structuring any of shows or albums.

As we were putting together the idea as to what we wanted to do with this latest album, we came up with the idea, since it’s kind of the 10 year anniversary of us reforming, why not try to tell the story of Straight No Chaser through music? So, we spent a lot of time at the beginning of the year focusing on the things we wanted musicalized, the different aspects of what we’ve been through as a group. Whether it be starting in Indiana, back in the late 90s, whether it be going our own ways after we left school, graduated, went in to find jobs, finding our soulmates, getting married, having kids. All those little aspects of what we’ve been through in the last 10 years, how do we musicalize them and tell the story through a cohesive album? That was the fun task of “One Shot.”

David Roberts: I think Steve summed it up really well. We’ve done this several times now, where we’ve either been given a concept or we’ve been told we need to come up with a concept for an album. We always struggle with that idea. For some reason, with this one being 10 years, just the idea of trying to be more of a storytellers with the album and the concept and have the story be a bunch of guys that were friends in college that got this opportunity and are still giving it our best shot. To try to make a CD that tells that story, it’s been a lot of fun.

Tyler Trepp: I think, too, we tried to have a group of songs that could 1) standalone by themselves, like, if you just wanted to listen to that song, but also if you looked at the entirety of the album, tell the story of the group. Like Steve was talking about and tell each milestone in our group and how we’ve, since started from college, and now have come here, 10 years later. That’s kind of how we decided to do the songs that we did.

Steve Morgan: And it’s an interesting task to undertake. You’re trying to tell personal; you’re trying to tell professional, you’re trying to put in all these different things. How do you tell multiple guys’ stories with one song? It was a lot of give and take, a lot of discussion, just spending a lot of time on conference calls and looking at spreadsheets and then going to the internet and doing your Google searches for, “Alright, what are the top 25 songs that express this sentiment or that have musicalized in the past these moments?” And picking, then, from those, what relates to us and how you can best translate that to acapella. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the process.

David Roberts: We committed to this concept backstage, I think our South Bend show, last December. Fort Wayne?

Tyler Trepp: Yeah.

David Roberts: We’ve been committed to this concept and have been actively working on putting a lineup of songs that does all those things that Steve said, that tells the story. Professional, personal, collegiate, the whole thing, and also are interesting songs that you want to hear both standalone or in this timeline. It’s been a labor of love, to say the least.

Steve Morgan: And as we sit here in mid-August, we’re finally starting to get the mixes coming through and hearing what the final product will be. It’s really exciting to see that coming together.

David Roberts: The other thing that I’m having fun with on this record is we’re also having a little fun with the album cover. In the art, we’re going to have a lot of little symbolic things here and there that represent a lot of these different points along our path, as well. I’ve been having fun, I think we all have been having fun coming up with ideas of little things or a trinket to put on the table or something to have strewn on the floor. A piece of art in the background that’s really gonna help bring people along. Hopefully, the audience will get a kick out looking for the different things and wondering what the story is.

Tyler Trepp: They started recording where it all started in Bloomington, Indiana, and since then, we’ve recorded in several different locations. Nashville, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. In some really, really, really cool studios that a lot of awesome people have recorded in and we’ve seen some of them, which was also pretty cool. I think it’s been about two years that we’ve now since gone back to Bloomington and recorded back at the same place that we did in college, because we liked working out there so much that we decided to go back.

Steve Morgan: And at Airtime Studios in Bloomington, there are two gold records on the album. They’re just both ours.

David Roberts: We’ve recorded in some pretty famous studios, from New York to Nashville to L.A. We’ve found that we are most comfortable and we get, at least, a similar result in Bloomington. We just enjoy going back to Bloomington and recording there.

Tyler Trepp: It’s also cheaper.

David Roberts: It’s way cheaper.

Steve Morgan: And the creature comforts. Again, we’re recording these holiday albums and things like that in the middle of July, that’s when there are no students there, so we can find housing really easily. It’s nice to have a full kitchen at your disposal, instead of just eating out for two or three weeks at a clip. All the little things that go together to making the entire experience a little more comfortable.

David Roberts: The downside is we’re not recording in places where Bruno Mars has studio A, like when we were in Glenwood Place. Bumped into him when we were done and was so starstruck that I literally couldn’t put any words together to say anything to him and basically just walked away from him. One of the most embarrassing moments of my professional career. Just wanted to get that out. Shout-out to Bruno.

Randy Stine: Bruno walked through, and then a few minutes later, Pharrell is sitting, like, a table over from us in the outdoor area and then Nelly came in and I was like, “Oh! This is a little parade in here. Who else is gonna walk into these doors?”

Tyler Trepp: Sometimes it’s those moments, you look at yourself and like, “What is happening right now?”

David Roberts: I definitely turned to the engineer and said that there never had been a greater dichotomy between what was going on at studio A and what was going on at studio B.

Tyler Trepp: Oh, yeah!

Randy Stine: I think it was, I’m trying to think of the name of the studio, out in L.A. We were doing the tracking and I walked into the room next door while we were just kind of wasting some time, and I walked in, I was like, “I feel like I’ve seen this room before.” I’m like, “Have I seen it in a video?” It was where “We Are the World” was recorded.

David Roberts: It was Henson. Yeah.

Randy Stine: Yeah, it was Henson. I came out and I was sitting on this little bench just to get out of the studio and listen to some silence for a change and sit in the hallway. This woman sat down next to me and sat there for, probably, an hour. She was reading a magazine, I was reading something on my phone, I think. I looked up, and she said, “Oh, have a good day!” and walked away. I was like, “That was Mary J. Blige!” Sitting there for an hour, didn’t even pay attention.

Outro: Thanks for listening to What’d I Say Presents: Straight No Chaser, “One Shot.” To hear the rest of the episode, subscribe on your favorite podcast player, or head to atlanticpodcasts.com for more info on our shows. “One Shot” is out on Nov. 2, and the reissue of “Holiday Spirits” is out Nov. 16.