From day one of “The Sing-Off,” Nota brought a much-needed “flava” to a competition that could have been pretty vanilla. The road to their win was paved with family illness, judge’s curve balls and some singing college dudes with just as many tricks up their sleeves. In the end, Nota’s soulful, Latin twist on a capella won America’s votes.
Set to perform tonight on “The Jay Leno Show,” I caught up with the six guys from Puerto Rico between rehearsals to talk about the future, their competition and where the party’s at.
Before the competition began airing, the SoCals told the L.A. Times
that Nota was the group to watch out for. When you saw your
competition, did you think, “Oh, we got this”?
David Pinto: We never thought we had it. We knew we were bringing good
music. We were trying to stay focused on working on our songs, making
sure we hit every note and every step. That’s mainly what we’re focused
on: Just giving a good performance. We weren’t really concentrating
on whether we had it in the bag or not, or the competition.
Were the Beelzebubs always on your radar, though?
David: Every group had their specialty, like their own special sound.
The Beelzebubs are really cool friends, so if we had to pick one out of
the whole bunch, yeah, I would say the Beelzebubs. They were always the
ones that made us take a second look.
What will the $100,000 dollars do for you?
David: Wow. That’s a lot of money. We’ll split it up evenly among the group members. Basically, this is a new life that we’re starting now. We finally get to live off of what we love, which is music. I don’t know about the rest of the guys, but me personally, the first thing I’m going to do is take a nice vacation with my wife.
Ludwig: Wow! (sings) Money, Money, Money! First of all, pay some stuff. Be debt-free. To have that peace of mind, I’m grateful. Money for me is like a tool to be able to do things that are important in life. That’s how I see it.
Do you already have a vision for what your album is going to be like?
Ludwig: We want to do music for the people. If we want to do music for the people, we should do songs that the people know already, popular songs that really lift their souls up. Obviously, we’ll infuse known songs with our style of Latin grooves, so they have a different twist. That’s what people can expect from Nota.
David: I think our first album will be mainly English music with some Spanish infused and probably a second album in Spanish. There are a lot of choices, a lot of options. We’re going to let Sony decide. Whatever they think is best for the group, that’s what we’re going to be doing.
When will your first post-‘Sing-Off’ concert be?
David: Honestly, we don’t have any shows on our agenda. We do have a lot of TV shows and radio. Today, we’re on “The Jay Leno Show.” As far as concerts, we don’t have anything yet. As soon as we know, we’ll let you guys know. You can check out our website, NotaVocal.com, and whatever shows we have, we’ll make sure to keep you guys posted.
Oh, and the Puerto Rican fans are wondering: When are you all coming home?
David: We’re planning to come home this Tuesday, the 29th. We’re going to be received by all our family, friends and fans. We’re going to be at a place called Plaza Las Americas. We’re just going to have a big party with everyone in Puerto Rico. We’re just gonna have some fun when we get home.
You were all very emotional after that first day of competition when the Judges gave you positive feedback. Up until then, have you dealt with a lot of haters?
Ludwig: The emotional part is that we’ve been doing music since the 90’s. Separately, in different groups and as friends jamming and stuff. We know what we like to do and we were pretty sure of the style. But, we’ve never had the opportunity for big people to give us positive feedback and really enjoying what we had to offer. When the opportunity finally comes, you’re like, man, finally. People who really care about music and the a capella world have a chance to enjoy what we have to offer.
Edgar Rios: On the other hand, when Johnny called us to do the group, my daughter was in the hospital. She was there almost a month with the H1N1 virus. At the same time, Jose’s wife was in the hospital in intensive care and on a ventilator. We were so emotional, because the lord has been so good to us. My daughter and Jose’s wife are healthy now. After all that, being on the show that first day was amazing for us.
A lot of your fans seem to feel that your “judges’ request” song, “Sledgehammer,” was much harder for you and your style than the songs for the other groups. Do you think that?
David: To be perfectly honest, yes. But we also saw it as a challenge, a chance to show how versatile we can be. We just decided we’re going to do it, just step it up and put our own twist to it. Even though the judges gave us some criticism on it, I’ve seen the comments on YouTube and everyone said they loved it. It’s that reaction that makes me happy and lets me know that we delivered a great performance.
Shawn was really hard on your lead vocals on that one, David. He said it was the first time you showed some weakness. How did you take that?
David: Every critique we get, we take it as an opportunity to learn and get better. It didn’t really get to me. It was more like, OK, now I know what to do for the next time. He doesn’t need to say that to not just me, but to the entire group. We felt like we did a really good job and that we brought something different to the table. I honestly think we brought something completely unexpected. Who would have thought “Sledgehammer” would start out funky rock, and then end up in a carnival in Brazil [laughs]? It’s crazy.
Well, you got Shawn later, when after your highlights video, he was in tears. How does it feel to make a grown man cry?
David: I would say that was my personal favorite highlight of the entire show. When you see an artist at the caliber of Shawn Stockman and Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls, they’ve seen so much, sometimes they become numb to emotion. They’ve seen it all. To be able to see that he related to what we’re going through and he felt that something special. To see him cry, it really meant a lot to us. We felt like at that point, we really connected with him, our fans and the people watching at home. Very special moment for us.
‘The Sing-Off’ episode recaps
Photo credit: NBC