By MIKE CHAIKEN
Straight No Chaser always has had a special relationship with its fans.
At its concerts, the a cappella pop group encourages fans to take photos of their performance and then post those images immediately on social media along with their tag.
And their social media accounts frequently feature conversations between fans and members.
So given their relationship with their fans, explained member Steve Morgan, it made sense to turn to those fans to pick some of the tracks for its latest album, “I’ll Have Another… Christmas Album.”
“So much what we do is a response to the fans,” said Morgan, calling from Nashville, Tenn. during Straight No Chaser’s current tour, which comes to Connecticut Dec. 2.
So, to go to fans for some ideas for Christmas songs on a new album, made sense, said Morgan. “They give us ideas of songs we didn’t know.”
And Morgan said, “The best ideas get used regardless of where they come from.”
Sometimes in the past, said Morgan, fans would offer up some surprise suggestions for selections. For “I’ll Have Another…” there were no great surprises, said Morgan. But there was a fun selection inspired by a suggestion, he said. The group wrote “To Christmas (The Drinking Song!)” which goes “To Christmas!/Open a bottle of wine…To Christmas/ Unveil a new corporate design” based on some fan comments
“I’ll Have Another…” is Straight No Chaser’s second Christmas album. And, in the end, the group—which includes Jerome Collins, Walter Chase, Seggie Isho, Michael Luginbill,Charlie Mechling, Don Nottingham, David Roberts, Randy Stine, and Tyler Trepp— had so many Christmas songs at its beckoning that it could have released a third holiday album
But when Straight No Chaser pulls the final selection for songs on an album, Morgan said they like to pick something old, something new, something inbetween, some originals, something classical, and some old standards.
Personally, Morgan said there are three kinds of holiday tunes he loves to listen to. He loves standards, with their sweeping melodies. Those songs tend to provide great opportunities for harmonies for a men’s chorus. He also likes Christmas songs that are funny, such as SNC’s own “The Drinking Song,” which allow the group to show off its sense of humor. He also likes up tempo, catchy songs that offer up opportunities for the group to move about on stage.
Holiday songs are perennial favorites this time of year. The music charts often are filled with albums that disappeared after Dec. 26 and then rise back up the ranks after Black Friday.
Morgan said holiday songs continue to tickle the ears of listeners because “these are songs we grew up with.” Holiday songs set the stage for “nostalgia for our childhood and allow us to share those songs with our children and perpetuate the cycle.”
The tour that takes Straight No Chaser to the Mohegan Sun also marks the group’s 20th anniversary since they first gathered at Indiana University. “It’s a crazy, crazy thing,” said Morgan of the fact that the group is going into its third decade.
“I’ve known these guys half of my life,” said Morgan.
If someone told the young Steve Morgan that he would still be singing with the guys of Straight No Chaser and traveling the world and selling out shows, he said he would say, no way. And even now, he said he wants to say, “Pinch me and wake me up.”
The members of Straight No Chaser have had the opportunity to watch each other grow up, said Morgan. They met in their “immature college days” and now their responsible men raising families. “It’s very unique,” said Morgan of the opportunity SNC has provided its members.
Although they are promoting “I’ll Have Another… Christmas Album,” Morgan said the first half of the show will be dedicated to their pop music repertoire. There will be music from the ‘50s to today with a mix of up tempo songs and ballads. During the second half of the show, said Morgan, the group will focus on the holiday music.
As for the future of Straight No Chaser, Morgan said the group is working on its follow up to its last pop album, “The New Old-Fashioned.” Fans at the Mohegan Sun will hear the group try out some music that might make a new pop album. And the group is still on the look out for songs that will lend themselves well to the Straight No Chaser a cappella approach, said Morgan.
“We are working on those now,” he said.
Straight No Chaser performs at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville on Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $30 and are available at ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.