Home Free Sing Off crop The Sing Off finale: The winners pop some bubbly and react backstageIn the Monday, Dec. 23, finale of the first season of NBC’s a cappella vocal competition “The Sing-Off” under new executive producer Mark Burnett (“The Voice”), the Minnesota-based, all-male country group Home Free is just that, with a trophy in hand.

Despite the holiday theme of the two-hour finale, it was actually taped in mid-September. After being named the winners (and doing a bit of celebrating), the members of Home Free — Matthew “Austin” Brown, Rob Lundquist, Chris Rupp, Tim Foust (he of the very deep voice) and Adam Rupp — gathered backstage to talk to Zap2it.

“It’s more than every dream I’ve ever had come true,” Brown says. “My biggest fear coming here was that they would try to make us into something we’re not. And while we have grown a great deal away from what we ever thought we were, I don’t think we’ve ever lost our identity. It just feels right.”

Adds Lundquist, “The whole experience has been so surreal, it’s hard to put into words what I’m feeling.”

Says Chris Rupp, “We’re still pretty overwhelmed. We haven’t really processed this yet. I’m just really excited to see what the next goal is, what we’re doing next.”

“I like chocolate,” says Adam Rupp. “Oh, boy, never expected anything like this. … I can’t wrap my head around it.”

Home Free members Sing Off The Sing Off finale: The winners pop some bubbly and react backstage

Says Foust, “I’m going back and forth between moments of staring off into nothingness and shock and crying like a little girl. If I’m completely honest, I have walked away from a cappella music on and off for 12 years now, and something always kept pulling me back. This time, it was Chris Rupp, here, and I’m glad I listed to Chris, slash, the Universe, gave in and said, ‘OK.’

“Sometimes you’ve got to listen to the Universe, and it really paid off this time.”

Rupp says the group is a testament to endurance and hard work, recalling, “We started the group 12, 13 years ago, I can’t even remember. We were terrible.”

Foust isn’t surprised that a country group in particular came out on top in an a cappella competition, saying, “If there’s really any genre of music in which a cappella would be embraced, it would be country. No matter what else is going on in music, with all the different changes and the fads, country is always based on organic music and vocal harmony.”

Brown credits folk singer Jewel — who joined the judge’s panel this year, with veterans Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman — as an inspiration and a source of information and support.

“She’s way more eloquent than I ever would have guessed,” he says. “She’s a brilliant woman.”

Brown also has something to prove, saying, “People in the music industry are often so put off of supporting a cappella music, saying, ‘You can’t rock a house with a cappella music.’ We can rock a house. Give us a sound system, and we will show you what a cappella can do.”

Asked if they’ve had any champagne yet, Foust gives a sly grin.

“We have. Can you tell?”

Photo/Video credit: Kate O’Hare, Zap2it

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