In fine voice to honour lawyers

RISE of the a cappella group set to perform at glittering Assembly Rooms awards ceremony serves as a reminder to us all of the benefits of professionalism, dedication and sheer hard work.

The Other Guys started singing together as students at St Andrews University 11 years ago.
The Other Guys started singing together as students at St Andrews University 11 years ago.

Think of St Andrews and you might imagine students in cloaks sweeping their way down draughty ancient streets, the perfectly-clipped turf of the world’s most famous golf course or the wild beauty of a broad beach dotted with walkers and dogs. You might reflect on its location as one of the world’s most famous royal romances, or the history which prevails over all.

This rare gem of a place has so much to offer and it is no surprise that it is also home to an internationally successful all-male a cappella ensemble. Later this month The Other Guys will make the short hop south to perform at the 12th annual Scottish Legal Awards at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms.

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It is more than a decade since a group of 11 St Andrews’ students decided to form a singing group in the mould of the American collegiate choir. Little did they know, it would start an adventure leading to worldwide tours, four albums and critical acclaim.

“We rehearse twice a week and the band members sign a contract that says the band is top priority with the only exception being academic work,” said Xander Johnson, the band’s business manager and also a third-year social anthropology student. “In rehearsal, we all learn multiple parts so that if anyone can’t make it for study reasons, someone is always available to fill in.”

This hard-working band is perhaps best known for its humour after its big break with a musical parody created as a pre-wedding tribute to former St Andrews students Kate Middleton and Prince William. Royal Romance, set to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, became a YouTube sensation and projected the group on to the international media stage. The YouTube channel has now received more than 1.5 million views

“In the years before Royal Romance, we were a hard-working local band performing at bars and birthday parties,” says Johnson. “But the tribute video went viral and within months we were performing in the USA and the video was being played by media as far as Japan and Australia.”

So what on earth did Kate and Wills make of this so-called tribute? “We actually performed to them in November 2012. We did three songs, gave them a copy of the album and they really seemed to enjoy the performance.”

Their follow up, St Andrews Girls, an inspired cover of Katy Perry’s California Gurls, was released quickly as a charity single, raising money for Breast Cancer Care and the band are confident there is another parody in the making.

“We are at a really interesting stage in the band at the moment,” Johnson adds. “We have big range of prominent soloists. St Andrews always seems to produce good singers for such a relatively small university. We are doing more choral work but at the heart of it we are a comic band as we love doing the fun stuff too.”

Last week, the band was working hard rehearsing for the Scottish a cappella championships, another milestone in their punishing schedule which has included a tour of England and a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe doing 14 performances in seven days.

Last year the alumni band, all 28 of them, gathered for a one-off performance in St Andrews and played a 80-minute set to 300 people packed into the Byre Theatre.

“There is a great affinity for the band locally, but our work is truly international now,” Johnson explains. “We are all active ambassadors for the university and with their help we are planning our next US tour when we will be performing and handing out prospectuses. We’re in our 11th year as a band and we are developing our alumni network, building more success with every year that goes by.”

So to the Scottish Legal Awards, a corporate booking to entertain the nation’s leading legal lights. The band will perform a fun-filled set including their most famous hits, together with some new material. “We’re looking forward to it,” adds Johnson.

The audience, some of them flush from awards success, may even feel a tad incompetent as this hard-working and talented band serves a stinging reminder about our own misspent student days.

• The Other Guys perform at the Scott + Co Scottish Legal Awards on Thursday 26 March at the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms. The event is sold out but to register for the waiting list for tickets, contact [email protected]