Nothing but harmony to hide behind
NEW CASTLE, Colo. New Castle native Thomas Breslin knew he wanted to join “In the Buff” since he was in middle school.His older sister, who attended the University of Colorado, brought back one of In the Buff’s CDs, saying, “You’ve gotta hear these guys.”Breslin listened, and the CD immediately struck a chord. He was hooked. In the Buff is a male a cappella group made up of CU students.Breslin was already deeply involved in music, having trained from elementary through high school. He sang in musicals in middle school, and focused on singing while at Rifle High School by participating in varsity choir competitions. Breslin’s father was always an influence, too. Frank Breslin is also currently the mayor of New Castle.”My father sang, and that’s what got me into it,” says Breslin.
His family is extremely supportive, Breslin says. They drive to Boulder for In the Buff concerts and even hustle their CDs.When he arrived at CU as a freshman, Breslin found the group in the University center recruiting new members. But he couldn’t just sign up – he had to go through a thorough audition process.His years of music training paid off.Potential members have to perform a basic range test, display basic singing techniques, and do oral recall, where they have to remember a sequence. Then they have to sing a “shower song” of their choice to try and impress current members. They hope that leads to a callback.Breslin, now a senior at CU studying sociology and business, obviously impressed them. He is now president of In the Buff, going into his fourth year singing.”We try to be a crowd-pleaser,” Breslin says of the a cappella group. “We try to stay original.”
Group members arrange all of the music they sing, transposing what you hear into many vocal parts. Breslin says that is one of the main things that makes them different from the other a cappella groups on campus, because it takes a lot more time and effort to arrange a song than to buy it pre-arranged online.Another thing that sets them apart is their originally written songs. No other group at CU performs songs they write, Breslin says.In the Buff does perform its fair share of cover tunes, though. Breslin says they sing everything from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to newer artists such as John Legend and The Fray.Oh, and you can’t forget AC/DC, which can be a real challenge.”When you’re singing an AC/DC song with a lot of distortion, you can’t just sing it like a pretty choir song,” Breslin says. “It takes a lot of dynamic to imitate the wide range of songs we do.”They complete many of the songs with vocal percussion, or “beatboxing.” Breslin says some members of the group are better at it than others, naming Mykal Hudson as an example. He is constantly coming up with new ways to impress them and new sounds to make, Breslin says.”Someone actually made a comment at a concert that most of those sounds were dubbed in so that he wasn’t actually doing it,” says Breslin. “They couldn’t believe it, how fast he could do it.”
Members of In the Buff are from all over the country, but the majority are from Colorado. They come to CU and, after joining, they have an automatic group of friends.”We’re buddies first, and a singing group second,” Breslin says. “We’re all best friends.”Mack Eason of Basalt is also a member of the group, giving them a real Western Slope flavor.
The group recently traveled to Rifle to perform at a wedding.Breslin says many of them have classes together, and that they party together, study together and rehearse together.”They’re my first knit of friends out there,” Breslin says. “I have a lot of other friends in Boulder, but they come first.”Each member of the group has a nickname, one that can only be given to them by an older member. Breslin says the nicknames are always stupid and are built upon an embarrassing story.His nickname is T-Bag, but he won’t disclose its infamous meaning.
Breslin looks forward to the six-hour rehearsals each week, especially when he’s in the middle of the semester, loaded down with studying.”The only stress relief I get is when I go and rehearse with the guys,” Breslin says. “This group and singing are the only things that have kept me so successful in school.” This is by far the greatest thing I could’ve done with my college career,” Breslin says.The group was started in 1994, and the camaraderie and goal of entertaining has remained intact. Breslin says that from the beginning, In the Buff aimed to be the most energetic, lively and entertaining group out there.People have noticed. At this year’s In the Buff concert in February, they packed more than 400 people into a 375-person lecture hall, and had to turn 100 people away, Breslin says.In the Buff performs two main concerts a year, one in the fall and one in February to celebrate the group’s birthday. They produce and record their own CDs two times a year. They also participate in the annual “Acapalooza,” where all of the University’s a cappella groups perform.
The group is on hand for birthdays, weddings, conferences and business events, and they sometimes perform on the Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder, a popular open-air venue for buskers.They also make a point to perform at various sororities, especially during “rush,” when new girls join (hmm, wonder why …).”The sorority girls love us,” Breslin says.When asked if singing has improved his luck with girls, Breslin says, “Oh, God, yeah. Girls love guys that sing.”Now, about that nickname …Contact Samantha Pal: 384-9105, email@example.com
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