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Interview:
Piano Guys at the Fox Theatre, 3 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Jon Schmidt -- who is the piano guy for The Piano Guys -- freely acknowledges that his group is "an unlikely success story."



Over the course of eight albums, including two Christmas sets and this year's "Limitless," the group has crossed the pop, classical and New Age divides with surprising covers and mash-ups -- Shawn Mendes' "In My Blood" with "Swan Lake," for instance. All of its albums have topped Billboard's New Age chart, with six doing the same on the classical chart.



Last month's "Limitless," meanwhile, lives up to its title and the Utah troupe's reputation for daring -- unless you think covering songs by Korean pop sensations BTS is something we could have expected...



Schmidt, 52, says the Piano Guys set out "to do new stuff -- new textures, new approaches" on "Limitless" but also wanted to "stay true to what we always are. I think it's always tricky. I feel like U2, when they tried to do new stuff they went too far, and some of my favorite artists do that, too. But somehow Coldplay figures out a way to do new stuff without losing the core of who they are. That's what we tried to do this time, and I hope we were successful."



The two BTS covers, "Epiphany" and "DNA," were the idea of the Piano Guys' manager. "He told us about this really hot Korean group that is making incredible waves, especially organically. Two of our guys spent a couple years in Korea and have a real affinity and soft spot and love for the Korean people, so that was something they were really excited about. We're always looking for something different like that, and to have somebody (guest Al van der Beek) rap through a cello beat box in Korean, I think that's pretty different from what we've ever done."



Touring at this time of year, the Piano Guys also tap their holiday repertoire, which Schmidt says the group is more than happy to play. "Actually there are some tunes on the Christmas albums that we absolutely wish we could play all year 'round, not just in December, 'cause they're some of our favorites. It's really fun to perform at this time of year because our palette can widen to include some of our absolutely favorite things to perform. So we've got five or six Christmas additions to the show, but other than that it's a regular show."



The Piano Guys' Christmas Together Tour stops at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets start at $37.50. 313-471-7000 or 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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