Over the past three years, since winning NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” Home Free has taken the a cappella world by storm with their country-styled harmony. After winning the show and getting a record deal with Sony’s Columbia label, Home Free has released a handful of albums including 2014’s Crazy Life and Full of Cheer and last year’s project, Country Evolution. With a recent member change, the band re-visits the Christmas project as Full of (More) Cheer! and added some new tracks and recordings to the project. We recently got to chat with the band on a fall autumn day to discuss the new project and more. Below is that conversation.
Matt Bjorke for Roughstock: So you guys have the new Christmas project. What are the new tracks on the record?
Tim Foust: We have a studio version of Colder Weather and a version of How Great Thou Art, We also give a new spin on the other songs too, featuring Adam Chance, our newest member.
Matt: How have the fans reacted to Adam joining the band?
Austin Brown: They’ve really taken to him!
Adam Chance: It was awesome. I expected it to go well but it went better than anything I could’ve hoped for.
Austin: For what it’s worth, since Adam’s joined us, our Facebook and YouTube has grown over 200k likes in the time since he’s joined the band.
Matt: You guys are one of those types of artists who are able to build a career in non-traditional ways (Seeking radio airplay to build a fan base), not unlike Frank Foster and Kane Brown. How has YouTube and social media helped Home Free get to where you are now?
Austin: There was a big lightbulb coming on when this model we’re working with seemed to really worked. In the last 6 months we’ve jumped quite a bit in likes on social media is that the difference has really been how we have engaged personally with audiences. It gives us a lot of hope. Of course the goal is to get on the radio but at this point, we don’t need to. If we get to 2, 3 million likes and follows on YouTube and Facebook, they’ll have to eventually play what we have or they’ll be missing an audience.
Matt: How excited are fans going to be when they can get Colder Weather as a studio track?
Tim: We’re excited because we’ve been singing and we featured Chance on this.
Matt: It also works with a Christmas song…
Tim: Yeah, it works really well for us.
Matt: And Zac and company may thank you down the road for giving them a potential big holiday hit (Everyone laughs)...
Austin: Yeah, that one is one we’ve played live for years so it’s really fun to have it on this album.
Matt: How cool is it for y’all to get to near the 100 million YouTube views, your own radio to speak…
Tim: Before “The Sing-Off,” we were ecstatic to get to 10,000 views so to go where we’re going now, it’s amazing.
Matt: How do you go about arranging the songs and choosing what you record?
Adam Rupp: It’s always a blast to get to figure them out.
Austin: We get to do whatever we want with it. We get to arrange it and see how people react to it. That’s a great thing about YouTube. We have way more content than we have albums at this point. Which three years ago, we never really conceived of that. So we’re able to record a song, like we did with “All About That Bass” with a lot of fun in it and then we do something like “God Bless The USA” we get to see how the audience works
Tim: And since we are the band we get to experiment and the studio and creating the arrangements for the songs is our playground.
Matt: And that’s probably a reason why you are a vocal band…
Matt: How special is it for you to be able to tour and bring what you do to the fans.
Tim: It’s great and we seemed to have turned a corner and now we’re seeing our shows sell out rather quickly and whatever we’re doing is working, so thank you guys (all laugh).
Adam Rupp: When we see the people, we feed off their energy as much as our own.
Austin: In the show there’s a lot of off the cuff humor and riffing off the fans
Rob Lundquist: One of the biggest comments we get is that it was different than what they expected.
Adam Rupp: For me the live show is our identity.
Matt: What was it like to hit the stage of the Grand Ole Opry the first time…
Austin: it was pretty surreal and we don’t re really don’t get nervous anymore, Even that day, I wasn’t nervous until we were side stage. And they said for us to go out while they were in commercials. So when the foot hit the stage, immediate goose bumps.
Tim: It drowned out the commercial, apparently and the stage hands weren’t expecting that.
Austin: The crowd was electric…
Tim: And it was more than what we ever could’ve expected, especially when Vince Gill came and sat down side-stage and listened to us sing…
Austin: One of the notable experience was how our fans made us look to the Grand Ole Opry folks.
And those fans are very loyal to you, aren’t they, including some who follow you around the country?
Austin: Yeah, there’s a big part of our business model is Patreon, where fans can support a band. And if the fans are at a high enough level, they can reach VIP status and get VIP Add-ons to tickets to see us. And so we have some fans who do follow us around who we’ll see at least five or six times and some others who go to many more.
Tim: There are a handful of them who we’ve seen at a hundred shows or more, which is amazing.
Matt: So I hear you’ve just released a cool new music video for “How Great Thou Art”?
Austin: Yeah, we went to Europe to play a few festivals so while there we took advantage of that time and brought a film crew to film this music video in Switzerland. Some of the shots were shot with a drone and nothing is on a green screen. We really filmed the video at that location.
Matt: It’s beautifully shot and beautifully performed.
Band (all): Thank you.
The Band's new album Full of (Even More) Cheer! will hit digital stores (and Walmart for the CD) on November 11, 2016. You can pre-order it here. Below you can watch the music video for "How Great Thou Art." The video has been viewed over 1.5 million times since Friday, October 28, 2016.