Perth-based barbershop quartet and national champion ‘Lockout’ is giving Perth an exceptional name in the impressive and too-often forgotten world of A Cappella singing.
Mark Coso, Stefan Pugliese, Ash Schofield and Ali Jamison have been singing together since 2012 and have collectively accumulated more than 40 years of singing experience.
The group is more motivated than ever after becoming national champions at the thirteenth Barbershop Harmony Australia convention in Melbourne last month.
The convention is held every two years in a different Australian city and is the nation’s most significant showcase of barbershop harmonies.
Schofield said the group’s humble demeanour made them deserving winners.
“We did it while being the nice guys the whole time and never ‘playing the game’ that some think is the way to get ahead,” he said.
“There is something about being the national champion, getting our name on that trophy and being in the record books that makes us feel like we are the real deal now.”
The win earned Lockout the right to represent Australia in an international competition in the USA.
More than 40 quartets and 20 choruses competed in the convention, a record since the first convention in 1985.
Lockout sang in the most competitive category, ‘open quartet’, which comprised 33 groups.
For Schofield, barbershop singing has always been a family affair.
“My entire family, apart from one niece, has been or is part of the Perth barbershop scene … sporadically, but right now everyone is involved in something,” he said.
Fellow Western Australian quartet, and female national champions, Hi Jinx, have much respect for Lockout as performers.
Hi-Jinx baritone Kirsten Richardson said Lockout was very good at making the difficult look easy.
Despite Lockout’s national title, Schofield is not yet satisfied and wants the quartet to continue competing and improving its scores.
“We do have bigger plans and will be endeavouring to prove that we belong at the next level at international, aiming for the top 20 and beyond,” he said.
Lockout bass singer Ali Jamison said winning had only increased the group’s drive and focus.
“Mainly we want to increase our scores into the A-level which is something no Australian quartet has achieved before,” he said.
The group’s next year will involve a rigorous rehearsal schedule, regional shows and possibly a full-length album.
The boys are proof that Barbershop is not only for older men with their youngest member, Pugliese, just 24 years old.
Competitive quartet singing is an expanding community with an increasing number of youth competitors.
Schofield said that over the years the genre had seen a steady stream of younger males joining.