PORTAGE | “Don't try to save me from my rock and roll,” the Portage High School Choraliers sang Friday afternoon to a new song by local rock band The Mad Ants.
This elite group of singers took right to the melodies and harmonies of The Mad Ants' song “My Rock & Roll,” to be featured on their soon-to-be-released album “International Anthem.” The 27-member choir, perched on the riser in the auditorium, sang with aplomb, lending their voices to a hard rock anthem as an after-school good will gesture to one of their own.
Mad Ants leader and PHS graduate Joel Justin teamed with choir director Aaron Riegle and drama director Kevin Giese for a two-hour recording session that tapped the depths of the students' vocal talents. The students received a hands-on lesson in the rigors of the recording process while having their voices captured for a commercial release.
“We are honored to be asked. This is something we've never done before,” Riegle said.
Riegle broke down the song's vocal parts for the Choraliers, directing the kids to “find their window” and perfect the harmony in their individual range. He steered the students to a mix of the song on the band's website, and with a few rehearsals, they were ready to perform.
“I wanted the students to experience how the art of performance and the music business converge,” Riegle said. “They learned to work with a producer and will get to hear the finished product.”
Justin said it was a lot of fun to work with the kids, adding that he really enjoyed coming back to the school after all these years.
“As The Mad Ants initially layered tracks for the song, we were starting to sound like a choir ourselves,” he explained. “Then we thought, wouldn't it sound great with an actual choir singing.”
Justin said the Choraliers sounded fantastic and he was looking forward to sending them a cut of “My Rock & Roll” with their voices.
“I look even more forward to having them hear the song in the entire context of the new CD,” he said. “The kids truly made the song the rock and roll anthem it was meant to be.”
The singers grooved to the music, adding a bit of performance art to video shot by Jaime Nygra, which will be uploaded to the band's website.
Senior Chris Ticen said he's recorded music in band settings, but Friday's session was a bit of an eye opener.
“The main thing you had to worry about was keeping your energy level up,” he said. “You have to go over and over things until you get it right.”
Choraliers captain Shannon Summers said the recording session was a bit of work, but “it was awesome.”
Luke Hayden found the message in the music. “'My Rock & Roll' reminds me of the days when music had meaning,” he said.