'It's brought us closer': The Tenors on moving past national anthem incident
The Canadian Tenors, left to right, Clifton Murray, Victor Micallef and Fraser Walters pose for a photo as they rehearse songs from their upcoming Christmas album in their Toronto studio on Thursday, October 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
David Friend, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, October 29, 2017 6:22PM EDT
TORONTO - Nearly a year and half has passed since the Canadian vocal trio The Tenors was blindsided by their ousted fourth member in front of millions of baseball fans, and in some ways they're still healing.
It wasn't until a recent trip to Cape Spear, N.L. for their new album “Christmas Together” that some of the pain turned into progress. They were filming a music video for the traditional “Auld Lang Syne,” the album's final track, a song that frequently ushers in the new year.
Standing in Cape Spear, the most easterly point in Canada, the group began to sense the symbolism behind their trip.
“The dawn of the new year touches the shores of Newfoundland before anywhere else in Canada,” said Clifton Murray.
“It didn't really hit me until we were there in that moment just recognizing the significance of the song: getting back to your roots and the basics.”
Exploring the picturesque region offered the Tenors a moment to pause after a whirlwind period of instability.
Former member Remigio Pereira shocked the group when he unexpectedly changed the lyrics to O Canada during the 2016 Major League Baseball all-star game. He also held up a sign bearing the message “all lives matter” on one side and “united we stand” on the other, angering some who believed it dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement. Pereira has said that wasn't his intention.
It put the rest of the Tenors - who Pereira has previously said didn't know his plans - in a difficult place. They ultimately chose to dismiss him as they faced a barrage of questions about the incident.
“There were other things,” said Victor Micallef. “Unfortunately, that was the most public moment.”
“You sometimes say to yourself that it's time in life to move on. Some people just have different paths,” he added, before wishing the former member well.
The Tenors reemerged as a trio playing events across the world. They appeared at the 30th anniversary of the David Foster Foundation earlier this month in Vancouver and will begin a North American tour running through November and December with numerous stops in Canada.
“We all went through our own process of hurt, challenge and grieving,” said Fraser Walters. “The three of us had some soul searching and it's brought us closer.”
“Christmas Together” is their first album since the fallout and in some ways feels like a statement of perseverance. The festive project also plants the Tenors in a genre where they've had plenty of success before.
Their first holiday album “The Perfect Gift,” released in 2009, went triple platinum in Canada by selling more than 240,000 copies. It helped solidify their reputation as a vocal force on live stages around the world.
Coming back with another holiday release seemed like a logical step, and as Micallef puts it, an opportunity to “press reset.”
The opening track “O Come All Ye Faithful” is bursting at the seams with strength built on a crescendo of the trio's vocals, a powerhouse choir and a stunning brass arrangement.
“When We Are Together,” originally released two years ago, was re-recorded to scrub Pereira's contributions, and on the new track “Santa's Wish (Teach the World)” they sing about unity while sampling a 1971 pop song that began as an infamous jingle to sell Coke.
“This album, more than anything we've done in the past is more playful,” said Murray.
“It still has those reverent epic moments, but we've having a little bit more fun now. I think it's reflective of the group itself.”
The Tenors hope to carry that spirit through the holiday season with a number of appearances and seven music videos that will trickle out in the lead up to the new year.
They're also keeping focused on what 2018 holds with the help of a “mood board” where they jot down their hopes and dream gigs.
“We try and manifest what we want as a group,” said Walters.
“We give ourselves goals and try to create this cohesive drive so we're rowing in the same direction. If you focus on it ... you have control over your reality, your future. Mind over matter.”