Monday, 1 September, 2014

Published May 16, 2014
2Cellos rock the classical groove
YouTube success story, 2Cellos, appear to be clean-cut but are actually closet headbangers, writes DYLAN TAN
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'We dedicated our lives to cello and classical music but at the same time, there was always a rock animal inside of us that wanted to explode.'
- Stjepan Hauser (right). With him is fellow 2Cellos member Luka Sulic (left)

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FAIRY tales can't get any better than this; when Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser posted their cello-only instrumental version of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal on YouTube in 2011, little did they expect it would garner three million views in the first two weeks and lead to a record deal plus a personal invite from Sir Elton John to go on tour with him.

The Croatian virtuoso cello duo, better known as 2Cellos, haven't looked back ever since and have released two albums while going on to sell-out arenas and stadiums on their own. They are set to play their first -ever headlining show here next week; with Singapore being their only South-east Asian stop on their current world tour.

To date, the pair has sold out major venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York; played at major events such as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace; and even performed on the hit TV musical Glee. All 11 shows on their tour of Japan in March earlier this year were completely sold-out.

From the songs 2Cellos have covered on their albums - everything from U2, Guns N' Roses, Coldplay, Nirvana to Muse - it's hard to imagine both Sulic and Hauser are actually classically trained musicians and not natural born headbangers.

"We dedicated our lives to cello and classical music but at the same time, there was always a rock animal inside of us that wanted to explode," explains Hauser. "And we just found the perfect solution to combine all the music that we like, and are passionate about; this is how project 2Cellos began!"

Their self-titled 2011 debut hit the No 1 spot on the US Billboard Top Classical Albums chart upon its release and was praised by critics for its unique arrangements of popular tunes. Their follow-up from last year, In2ition, went a step further with the twosome collaborating with big names such as legendary rock guitarist Steve Vai and classical piano superstar Lang Lang.

"In the future, we would love to collaborate with people like Sting (and) tour with some bad-a** rock bands such as AC/DC!" reveals Hauser, when asked about 2Cellos' upcoming plans. Incidentally, the duo's latest music video is a cover of AC/DC's stomping anthem, Thunderstruck. The clip has close to 18 million hits so far since they posted it in February.

But 2Cellos do not just stop at paying tribute to their favourite acts by covering them; they often collaborate with the stars on-stage too. Like when they not only opened for Elton John here in 2011 but also performed with him during his main set.

"Jamming with Red Hot Chili Peppers on stage was (another) evening we will never forget as we just met on stage for the first time and started improvising together," adds Hauser. "It was so spontaneous and inspiring."

Hanging out with the bad boys of funk-rock must have also rubbed off a bit on the clean-cut duo because 2Cellos now are no stranger to "bad" behaviour themselves.

"We've destroyed an insane amount of bows and bow hair at our shows because we are very energetic and passionate when we play; I remember during the filming of a Glee episode, they brought us six bows for filming, and we destroyed all of them in just a few hours!" reveals Hauser, when asked about the most outrageous rock star thing they have ever done. "And once we jumped into the sea with our cellos!

2Cellos will play The Star Theatre on May 22 at 8pm. Tickets from $88-$148 on sale now from Sistic