Recent Obsessions: Straight No Chaser, 'We're Smelling Roses,' cuddly Grinch

By 77 Square staff
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
For some creative holiday humor, look no further than Straight No Chaser.
Our current favorite SNC track is off of "Christmas Cheers" from 2009, the short, jazzy "Who Spiked the Egg Nog?"
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Viral video revives college vocal act Straight No Chaser

Special for the AJC 
Friday, December 17, 2010
“It’s just the 10 of us, 10 mikes, that’s it,” vocalist Walter Chase said in a recent phone interview. “Even on the album, what might sound like a drum machine, that’s all vocal percussion that has been engineered.
“That stems from our main vocal percussion guys, Tyler Trepp, Seggie Isho, Dave Roberts, myself and Randy Stine,” Chase said. “Tyler specifically. ... On our holiday set he does the sound of a sleigh bell; it’s uncanny how well he can imitate things. Seggie does amazing drums, like old-school beat box. ... You almost forget that somebody’s over there drumming with his mouth. It sounds like you’ve got a rhythm section behind you.”
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Note: This article also appeared November 4, 2010 at a separate link, under the title "Straight No Chaser performs in Rancho Mirage":

A cappella group puts twist on songs

By Ted Shaw
The Windsor Star
December 11, 2010
Straight, no chaser -- no backing band, just the purity of the human voice. Instrumental effects, like guitars and percussion, are performed vocally.

"All you see is all you get on-stage," Seggie explained.
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Artist Of The Month: Straight No Chaser - December 2010

By Wildy Haskell
Wildy's World
December 1, 2010
The group caught the eye of Atlantic Records Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman, who knew magic when he saw it and jumped at the opportunity to sign the group.  The rest, as they say, is history.
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SOUND OFF Interview: Walter Chase of Straight No Chaser

Walt mentions that "One of the guys last night wrote a three-page blog."  I checked and, depending on the timing, it was either Ryan's legendary "Baby Monkey" blog or Don's equally legendary post about Moriarty, NM. Also, I *love* the packaging on the "All I Want for Christmas" box set! Simply gorgeous and love the booklet - bravo to whoever designed that!

By Pat Cerasaro
Broadway World
November 29, 2010
"...they asked us to send in childhood pictures of us from the holidays. When I first saw the box set, it was really neat to see - you know, just paging through and seeing all of us. Plus, if people are holding it up in the audience you can see them because the light reflects off the metallic covers so they look a little red or green."

Also on

Straight No Chaser Rides Indiana Roots To Stardom

rtv6 ABC
The INDY Channel
November 23, 2010
 In 2006, the group reunited briefly on campus at a 10-year reunion.

"I found these old video clips that none of us had seen for ourselves. There were so old, they were on betamax," Stine said.
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Straight No Chaser demonstrates the power of voices

By Sonya Padgett
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nov. 4, 2010, 12:00 a.m.
When Seggie Isho moved to Las Vegas five years ago, he had to put his musical studies on hold to help with his brother's local wireless business.
It looked as though his life passion, a career in music, would slip out of reach.
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LV MUSIC: Hellertown, Reading women to appear in Straight No Chaser video

Congratulations, ladies! :o) 
They were part of this fun project: Straight No Chaser - The 12 Days of Christmas (Fan Edition) 

The Morning Call
October 19, 2010
"I think it all hit us when we walked in there for their sound check and we heard them warming up,'' said Heintzelman, a nursing major. "It was just a once in a lifetime opportunity."
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Straight No Chaser stands alone in Reading show

By John J. Moser
Lehigh Valley Music
October 10, 2010
That was the true secret to Straight No Chaser: The singing was superb. They hit notes surprisingly high and rumblingly low, and the 10 members created a sound so full the lack of instrumentation was forgotten.
They were so good that the sold-out crowd spontaneously began clapping along to some songs and cheered with abandon at others.

It was an added pleasure that former Forks Township resident Walter Chase is the group’s musical director (and sang lead on three of the songs), and Allentown native Jerome Collins is one of the group’s lead singers and handled a good third of their songs Saturday.
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Straight No Chaser proves it's not just for Christmas anymore

lol! I liked Small Wonder... "She's fantastic, made of plastic, microchips here and there."

I'm very pleased with this review, though. He does a nice job of describing the show highlights.

By Kevin Sedelmeier
October 2, 2010
The biggest applause might have come after they sung a Lady GaGa medley, which seemed to take the crowd by surprise. Keep in mind, this was a couple songs after performing The Beatles' Come Together. While it may seem like the material is all over the map, it somehow comes out sounding cohesive. Not once were any of these songs a misstep. Their timing was impeccable, and how they can remember all of their vocal parts is, much like the TV series Small Wonder lasting 96 episodes, is one of the wonders of our time. 
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After hit pop disc, a cappella group Straight No Chaser returns to Christmas (Jerome)

By John J. Moser
The Morning Call
October 1, 2010
Collins says the tour will keep him from being able to visit his parents and sister in Allentown until Christmas Day. But having been a performer in traveling troupes of "Grease" and "The Lion King" before Straight No Chaser, Collins says he's suited to the road. "I don't plan on leaving anytime soon. I'm having too much fun, enjoying singing for people and living out my dream."
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Hat Tip: @ShainaEng

An Interview with Straight No Chaser (Walt)

By Lisa DiCarlucci
The Hofstra Chronicle
September 30, 2010
TC: I read your bio on the website and it says your nickname is "fatty." What did you do to earn that?

WC: Well first it's a misnomer. It's not a physical reason. We all have nicknames. I've created this fat persona, looking at things to the fullest, everything in excess. It's a fat mindset, looking to go out partying. Plus it's a fun thing to yell at the bar.
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A cappella band Straight No Chaser is just '10 guys, 10 mics'

Naturally, as soon as we read this one several of us tweeted them to find out which one was Thunder and which one was Lightning. I'm sure you will sleep better tonight knowing that Jerome is Thunder and Mike is Lightning. You're welcome! lol

By Mark Wedel
Special to the Kalamazoo Gazette
Thursday, September 30, 2010, 8:56 AM
There are no big stars among the 10 brothers. Isho’s voice “is the best one” you hear on the CDs,
he joked. “Our two main soloists are Mike (Luginbill) and Jerome (Collins). We call them Thunder and Lightning.”

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Hat Tip: @dottkov

Straight No Chaser's Charlie Mechling talks with

A long interview! *squee* I might point out that those old records he mentions turn out to be quite important. One of them was Straight, No Chaser by Thelonius Monk. It stuck with Charlie, he suggested the name for the group, and the rest is history!

By Kevin Sedelmeier
September 29, 2010 dad has always, wherever he's out and about at a garage sale or an auction or something like that, he'll stop in, and if there are any records there, he'll just buy them. They're usually like 50¢ for the records or $10 for the box, so he'll just buy the box. We had this little record collection of this eclectic mix of things, and I would just wear those records out just because that's what was there.
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Straight No Chaser brings its fun show to town (Ryan)

By Kevin Kilbane
September 24, 2010
They have a set song list, and some things are scripted, but 90 percent of the humor on stage is ad-libbed, he said. Group member Charlie Mechling “keeps us on our toes,” with new show opening lines and other humor he injects into each performance.
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Hat Tip: @ShainaEng

Straight No Chaser members talk to local students (photo blog)
September 20, 2010
Local high school choir students participated in a Britt educational event on Friday, when they came out to Straight No Chaser's afternoon sound check.
See post:

Hat Tip: Eileen R.

'Familiar, but different' for Straight No Chaser

Napa Valley Register
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Ponce recalls sitting at a piano, “jamming” ideas for harmonies and textures. And Stine explains that the prevailing goal is to find the right “twists” without losing the identifiable character of the songs.

“You have to figure out a way to make things familiar yet different,” he said. “You want to find what people love about the song and carry it over so it’s not too shocking to the ear and still has that known melody that people like. It’s tricky, but it’s a lot of fun, too.”
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The Bad Boys of A Cappella: Straight No Chaser is shaken and stirred

The photo that goes with this article is too funny!

By Brianna Snyder
September 10, 2010
(If you're like me, you're envisioning a pretty rocking tour bus with 10 dudes belting out gorgeous multipart-harmony versions of your favorite songs for hours on end, delighting the bus driver and all the children on the streets. That doesn't happen, though. Ahlwardt says they save it for the stage. Fair enough.)

A shot of vocal adrenaline

Yes, indeed! We call it #SNCpermagrin or #SNCpermasmile. Great review of the AC show!


Straight No Chaser entertains with high-energy a cappella show at Harrah's
By Vincent Jackson
Press of Atlantic City
August 10, 2010
Attending a Straight No Chaser performance would put a smile on anyone's face.
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Singing Ponce sets the stage for reporting encore

By Robert Feder
WBEZ 91.5
July 21, 2010
Dan Ponce, who cut short a promising Chicago television news career last year to fulfill his dream of singing professionally, is returning home to join WGN-Channel 9 as a general assignment reporter.
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Five Questions With … Straight No Chaser

Walt packs a lot of great stuff into only 5 answers!  I'd also like to say "thank you" to Walt's dad.


Harrah's Resort brings in charting a cappella group for a summer-long run in Atlantic City
By Ray Schweibert
Posted Jul. 8, 2010
"My experience, or what got me into singing a cappella, was that my dad would play the Beach Boys both ways — on the way up to my grandmother’s house in Perth Amboy, where we’d go every Saturday, and back. At the time, frankly, it seemed kind of agonizing to listen to the same 30 Beach Boys songs over and over again, but it subconsciously drilled four-part harmony into my head."
"Most bands have four or five people with one or two as leaders — a lead singer or lead guitarist that fronts the band or whatever. We have 10 guys who, for the most part, equally contribute to the passion and the orchestration of every song."

Can you talk a little bit about how the group formed and its history?

It’s incredible how you can use vocal skills to sound like there’s a band behind you, especially with some songs that would ordinarily be instrument-heavy. How hard is something like that to overcome?

Do all 10 of you have formal backgrounds in music?

Has the group evolved much since you first formed in 1996?

How do you and the others plan to spend you down time in Atlantic City? 

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Hat Tip:

Straight No Chaser's "With A Twist" Breaks Records, Increases A Cappella Visibility

By Evan Feist
May 22, 2010
DISCLAIMER: I am reviewing the deluxe version of Straight No Chaser’s With a Twist, which includes three extra “bonus” tracks.
Buy it. Now. In triplicate.
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Interview: Straight No Chaser (Randy)

Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis and Jason Mraz "With a Twist"
By Rick Florino
April 21, 2010

When Dan was working on the arrangement to "I'm Yours," he was trying to find something that would put a twist on things. His girlfriend at the time happened to be in the room and she said, "It sounds like you're arranging 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow!'" He ended up playing with it and found a way to work it into the song.

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Straight No Chaser Covers Pop Faves With a Twist

By Jay Swartzendruber
April 21, 2010
With voices like these, who needs instruments?
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(Edit: The link is no longer active, so the full text appears below.)

Artist: Straight No Chaser
Title: With a Twist
Label: Atlantic Records

With voices like these, who needs instruments?

When ten guys at Indiana University formed the a capella group Straight No Chaser in 1996 to "wow the girls," they became so popular regionally, they chose replacements before graduation so their namesake could continue. Everything went according to plan until an old video of the original line-up's "The 12 Days of Christmas" found its way onto YouTube seven years later and an Internet sensation ensued.

After Atlantic Records saw the humorous clip garner millions of views, the major label stepped forward ready to offer a five-album deal. Just one problem—Straight No Chaser was in its fourth generation of undergrads, and Atlantic wanted the Internet phenoms. Thanks to the founders agreeing to a long-term reunion, today, there are two incarnations of the group: Straight No Chaser and Indiana University's Straight No Chaser.

The Atlantic Records act released two Christmas albums and a six-song EP with significant success, including a couple holiday radio hits and a Top 40 entry on The Billboard 200 album sales chart. With this table set, Straight No Chaser—who takes its name from the jazz standard by Thelonious Monk—releases its first non-holiday full-length album, With a Twist. This time, a wide range of pop and rock's modern classics get the royal treatment. Co-produced by Straight No Chaser, Deke Sharon (The House Jacks) and Steve Lunt (Britney Spears, The Cheetah Girls), With a Twist features adventurous interpretations of faves such as Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over," Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under The Bridge," Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," Coldplay's "Fix You," Queen's "You're My Best Friend," and Oasis' "Wonderwall.

Relying solely on the human voice, vocal percussion, snaps, claps and stomps, this instrument-free endeavor leans heavily on doo-wop, jazz, and soulful stylings. Immediately evident is why Straight No Chaser's versatility, innovative arrangements and overall sound draw comparisons to predecessors like Rockapella and The House Jacks. Featuring sophistication and textured layers of their God-given gifts, With a Twist captures the ten men at their harmonizing best.

For Mike + The Mechanics' moving reflection on father-son relationships, "The Living Years," the Chaser's vocal tricks substitute convincingly for keyboards and percussion as tenor Ryan Ahlwardt emotes regret. And when the group covers Barry Manilow's easiest of listenings, "One Voice," Chaser not only enlists him to oversee the song's arrangement, Manilow makes a cameo appearance on lead vocals. While the men's performances retain each classic's famous melody, at times the interpretations are off the mark emotionally. Instead of conveying angst for Soft Cell's "Tainted Love," Chaser delivers mostly upbeat finger-snapping fun with big band vocals and rhythmic treatments. Given that a bartending term serves as the group's name, it should come as no surprise that adult beverages are a thematic fave. Consider the celebratory rendition of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's "You & Me & The Bottle Makes Three" or the version of "Joy to the World" the Hoosiers chose to perform—yes, Three Dog Night's song about Jeremiah the bullfrog drinking "mighty fine wine."

Original ‘Straight No Chaser’ finds its way home to IU Auditorium

April 13, 2010
Throughout the performance, the act repeatedly mentioned how “it was great to be back” and acknowledged some IU notables in attendance such as men’s basketball coach Tom Crean.

“We’ve been on tour to 60 different cities, places like New York and LA,” one group member said, “and there’s only one thing we can say. It’s good to be home. Years ago we had our first show just 200 yards from here at the HPER. Now we sold out the IU auditorium.”

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Found via Google

Straight talk with two members of a cappella group Straight No Chaser

The link has expired, so the full text appears below.

By Erin McCracken
York Daily Record
This article was originally posted April 12, 2010:  

A cappella singer Walter Chase wants to get one thing straight.

"There is sort of a stereotype of the dorky choir nerd," Chase said.

But he and his group -- Straight No Chaser -- are out to break the mold.

The group of 10 guys formed in 1996 while they were students at Indiana University.

At the time, Jerome Collins didn't know anything about a cappella singing. The Allentown native grew up humming Motown tunes in the back seat of his family's car.

He was introduced to other singers in college. They wanted to form a group. The mission: Wow the girls.

"I was like, 'I'm in,' " Collins said.

At the time, Straight No Chaser was one of the only singing groups on campus. Most of the members had been in the university's Singing Hoosiers, a mixed show choir that boasted 120 members.

Soon, Collins became a big fan of a cappella, mostly because Straight No Chaser wasn't like other singing groups.

"They actually wanted to sing songs that we heard on the radio," he said. The group emphasized their own sound rather than trying to emulate other singers. They also infused some humor into their arrangements.

The difficulty, Chase said, is that they had no backing instruments to help them find notes.

"It's just voices," he said. Adding soloist-caliber singers including Collins, Mike Luginbill and Ryan Ahlwardt made the group stand out, he added.

The group sang on and off campus and participated in national competitions. After graduation, the members went separate ways, but they remained friendly.

Some went to grad school or started jobs. Five of the singers, including Collins, formed the group Ten2Five and signed with RCA Records.

"All of us had put (Straight No Chaser) to bed a long time ago," Chase said.

But they left a legacy.

Younger members stepped in to keep Straight No Chaser active at Indiana University today. Other a cappella groups popped up on campus including an all-female group Ladies First.

In 2006, the singers held a 10-year reunion and member Randy Stine posted a clip from a 1998 concert on YouTube.

The video of the group's rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" infused with Toto's "Africa" went viral. It has racked up 11 million views and counting.

The music industry took notice. A short time later, the group was soon contacted by the Atlantic Records CEO.

The group was asked to get back together and record a holiday album.

"I think when you get a call like that there is only one answer," Collins said, even though he added that the members knew they were taking a chance.

The group's first CD "Holiday Spirits" nabbed top spots on and iTunes, and the group hit the road to promote it. They released another holiday CD in 2009, "Christmas Cheers."

But recently the group has moved away from its holiday base. It's third release, "With a Twist," is due out April 13. It includes a cappella versions of Queen's "You're My Best Friend," Oasis' "Wonderwall" and Coldplay's "Fix You."

Chase said that the group looks to cover songs that are "a cappella-friendly" or don't have drums or a lot of electronic instruments.

Sometimes, they find songs by accident.

"I was listening to 'Under the Bridge' in a barbershop," Collins said. The song made its way onto the album.

The group is looking forward to touring when it's warm outside, something they weren't able to while promoting their holiday releases.

They stopped in April 2010 at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in York. The show, like several others on the tour, is already sold out. Collins and Chase are both from Pennsylvania and are looking forward to coming back to their home territory.

"It's one thing to see us on video," Collins said. "It's another things to see us live."

And hopefully, Chase said, the group along with other vocal-heavy TV shows including "Glee" and "The Sing Off," will show people that a cappella is anything but dorky.

For details about Straight No Chaser, visit

Straight No Chaser members:

Name: Michael Luginbill
Age: 28
Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind.
Voice part: Tenor

Name: Randy Stine
Age: 32
Hometown: Naperville, Ill.
Voice part: Bass

Name: David Roberts
Age: 33
Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind.
Voice part: Baritone

Name: Charles Mechling
Age: 32
Hometown: Bloomington, Ind.
Voice part: Bass

Name: Jerome Collins
Hometown: Allentown
Voice part: Tenor

Name: Walter Chase
Age: 32
Hometown: Easton
Voice part: Tenor

Name: Daniel Ponce
Hometown: Chicago
Voice part: Baritone

Name: Ryan Ahlwardt
Age: 28
Hometown: Fishers, Ind.
Voice part: Tenor

Name: Sargon "Seggie" Isho
Age: 27
Hometown: Rochester Hills, Mich.
Voice part: Baritone

Name: Tyler Trepp
Age: 25
Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa
Voice part: Tenor

Straight No Chaser escapes the pigeon hole

In the next episode, they escape the rabbit hole.

Did you notice the credit on the photo?  Maria Ponce, Dan's sister.

By Mike Chaiken
The Southington Observer
Friday April 9, 2010
And you shouldn't expect to see a single musical instrument on stage.  From the harmonies to the percussive sounds, Jerome said the sound of Straight No Chaser is all about the voices.  "We don't cut any corners (by padding things with instruments)," said Jerome.  "What we are is what we are. It's straight music."
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'Straight' to Harrah's

Casino will bring acclaimed a cappella group to town this summer
By Lori Hoffman
Atlantic City Weekly
Posted Apr. 1, 2010
“Back in college, we started this group just for fun — no one ever thought of it as a possible career path,” says SNC’s Randy Stine. “It was hard to comprehend that ten years after our last performance, we were back together recording for a major label, with an album that reached number one on iTunes, heading out on an international tour. Along with all the fun is a lot of work, but it’s a complete labor of love, and one that we never dreamed possible.”
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A Dream Revisited

By Evangeline Politis
Sheridan Road Magazine
Vol. 4, Issue 2
“Even if you don’t go into music, it’s such an amazing experience to be a part of those ensembles and be under the direction of great [music] teachers like Phil Smith, Ted Klinka, and Dave Bachmann. It helps with everything you do in life—you’re performing, you’re storytelling, you’re communicating in a live setting. That’s why I love being a musician and a reporter.”
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STRAIGHT NO CHASER Goes Pop, "With a Twist"

Music News Net
Feb 23, 2010
Straight No Chaser has revealed details of its much-anticipated new album.  "WITH A TWIST", arriving in stores and at online retailers on April 13, 2010 (via ATCO/Atlantic Records).
The birth of Straight No Chaser's second life is the classic story of talent, drive, and some very good luck.  But their goal remains the same as it was back in their college days.  As Stine says, "We want the audience to not miss the instruments, be surprised by what we're doing, and in the end, appreciate the songs in a whole new way."  
Also has a 2010 Tour Itinerary.

Read more:

Found via Google

Straight up: A capella group aims for Top 40 success

Hey, Febreze, they're still waiting! lol

The article is no longer online, so the text appears below.

Associated Press
Pueblo Chieftain
February 5, 2010

Original link:

NEW YORK — Imagine this: By day you’re a typical businessman, working the 9 to 5. Your nights and weekends, however, are spent sharing a stage with nine other guys just like you — performing a cappella songs in small venues while recording an album under Atlantic Records.

That was the double life for the members of Straight No Chaser, an a cappella choir of 10 men who formed in 1996 during their college years at Indiana University.

They say their pursuit in music was experimental at first. Dan Ponce even jokes that they got together because they ‘‘wanted to sing to sorority girls.’’

‘‘It was an interesting balance for that first year,’’ said Ponce, who formed the group, which performs with eight of its original members.

Charlie Mechling, to laughs from the other group members, recalled how he earned a lot of frequent-flier miles jetting between his job and rehearsals.

‘‘I was leaving Friday night from my life in Vegas, coming to New York, recording, rehearsing and then taking a redeye back,’’ he said. ‘‘I felt like a businessman that didn’t have any benefits or paycheck.’’

In college, some of the guys studied music, but not all of them. Others focused on mathematics, journalism or biology, among other subjects.

‘‘We were there connected because we all loved a cappella singing,’’ Ponce said.

The group first caught attention when the CEO of Atlantic Records saw on YouTube its rendition of

‘‘12 Days of Christmas,’’ which has been viewed more than 10 million times.

Once signed, the group recorded a Christmas CD, ‘‘Holiday Spirits,’’ released in September 2008. It followed that with another holiday album, ‘‘Christmas Cheers,’’ which has a studio version of ‘‘12 Days’’ and was released last month.

‘‘Our first album is your more traditional, gather-round-by-the-fire, relaxing, very soothing album,’’ member Seggie Isho said. ‘‘ ‘Christmas Cheers’ is where you loosen up your tie, and it’s the party album.’’

But more than just creating CDs good for stuffing Christmas stockings, the singers hope to be played on iPods offseason, too.

While on a recently completed North American tour, the group performed holiday tunes as well as hit songs from the Billboard charts. In August it released ‘‘Six Pack,’’ a six-song EP with covers from Amy Winehouse’s ‘‘Rehab’’ to Stevie Wonder’s ‘‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.’’ The group also says it’s working on a pop album to showcase how it can be more than a ‘‘Christmas comedy act.’’

‘‘Some of us have been concerned that people will only think of us as Christmas group, and that’s not the case at all,’’ Ponce said.

Crossing over to Top 40 radio with an a cappella sound and style will be challenge — but one the group says it’s up for.

‘‘A cappella music still has yet to really cross to the mainstream where we can be on a Top 40 radio station,’’ Ponce said. ‘‘That’s bold. I think we can do it, but we gotta go with baby steps.’’

The singers say they don’t always agree with one another and a tour bus full of that many guys can be too much.

‘‘A lot of sprays of Febreze (odor remover) going on,’’ Isho said, laughing, while Ponce added: ‘‘We’re thinking Febreze should be our sponsor for this tour.’’

But they say they are confident they won’t end up disbanded like many musical groups. They say their musical brotherhood is too tight to break.

‘‘We fight like brothers, we make up like brothers, but at the end of the day there really is a strong friendship and camaraderie that you don’t see in a lot of modern pop groups,’’ Ponce explained. ‘‘We weren’t put together by Atlantic Records, we weren’t put together by Simon Cowell . . . we just did this ourselves.’’