Quintessential bliss

From Justin Timberlake to Marvin Gaye to Michael Jackson, UW-Eau Claire a cappella group “Fifth Element” has sung all genres of music for audiences for more than 10 years.

Six Eau Claire students make up the all-male group. Seniors Anthony Meehl, Nels Urtel, Joe Holtan, and juniors Alex Collie and Pete Elkin, and new member, freshman Tim Mattson round out the group.

This Saturday, “Fifth Element” will release their sixth CD, Quintessence. It is their first fully studio recorded album.

“I think the quality of this CD is better than any other ‘Fifth Element’ CD released,” Urtel said.

Quintessence will be on sale for $15 at their concert on Saturday in Schofield Auditorium.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are $5.

Meehl agrees with Urtel about the quality.

“It is a higher quality of sound, and is simply a lot cleaner,” he said. “By doing it all in a studio, we were also able to add a few extra layers of voices on top of the six voices that we already have in the group.”

Quintessence is full of variety, Urtel said.

“Old songs, new songs, up-tempo songs – this CD honestly has something for just about everyone,” he said.

With the release of their new CD also comes “Fifth Element’s” annual fall concert on Saturday.

“This concert is going to be big,” Urtel said. “I’m excited because we are doing our first country song, a Keith Urban song.”

Meehl thinks this will be a fun concert for the most seasoned of “Fifth Element” fans or those who have never attended.

“There are some really fun tunes that go along with this time of the year and I think the audience will enjoy those,” Meehl said. “I think that students and the community should come to the concert because it is simply an awesome experience. It’s also a great place to bring a date.”

“Fifth Element” performs all types of music, which makes the audience more perceptive, Meehl said.

“They get to hear music they know, but it is in a completely new format with voices that sound like the instruments that they are used to,” Meehl said. “Some say that it is just like a vocal rock show.”

“Fifth Element” is also known for their banter back and forth between the members and their quirky songs, like their staple song “I Can Live with That.”

“They don’t take themselves too seriously, which makes their concerts very fun,” sophomore Christina Cardinale said. “I also enjoy more of their song choices than some of the other a capella groups on campus.”

Pleasing the audience is really important to the group, Urtel said.

“We have so much fun on stage,” he said. “We try to include the audience in on that fun.”

Though Meehl is excited for the concert, it is also bittersweet, he said.

“This is my last concert,” he said. After six semesters with “Fifth Element,” Meehl is leaving the group to start student teaching and making way for new group member Mattson.

“We’re working on the transition of losing Tony, but it’s going to be hard after these six semesters,” Urtel said.

“Fifth Element” is also incredibly excited for their future. After hearing that singer Ben Folds was making an all-college a cappella group CD, they jumped on the chance and sent in the application and demo. A few days later, they heard back from Ben Folds himself saying he was interested in “Fifth Element” and wanted to hear more.

“That would be insane to work with Ben Folds,” Urtel said. “Hopefully, we get a spot on the CD.”