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Key players: Touring the world a ‘dream come true’ for The Piano Guys’ Jon Schmidt

The Piano Guys are touring in support of their new EP, “In Times of Distress.” (Courtesy of Sony Music Masterworks)

Leading up to tour, Jon Schmidt is a “practicing fool.”

“You can’t stink when the people are buying tickets and coming to the show,” he says with a laugh. “That wouldn’t be right to get out on stage and not be ready for the show.”

For the past month, Schmidt has spent hours in front the piano going over a stack of material.

Schmidt is the pianist/composer of the group The Piano Guys. He is joined in the band by cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, videographer Paul Anderson and producer Al van der Beek.

The Piano Guys’ profile began to rise after they posted videos on YouTube in 2010 with compositions fusing classical, contemporary and rock.

Since then, The Piano Guys have released five studio albums, two Christmas albums and a fan-favorite live album, earning six No. 1 debuts on Billboard’s Top Classical Albums chart and garnering an impressive 2 billion global streams and more than 1.6 billion YouTube views, and averaging nearly 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

The quartet is back with the EP “In Times of Distress,” released on Feb. 27. The EP was a follow-up to the 2018 album “Timeless.”

“I think after this EP, we’re just going to put out singles and then retroactively combine them into an album,” Schmidt says. “When we first started this group, we never imagined that we would have traveled the world performing. This is a dream come true.”

Schmidt and crew play original and cover songs.

“When I’m writing music, I like to try every possible idea that I can think of,” he says. “The variations of rhythm often intrigue me. I’ll put together the top five variations and then work from there. I don’t like to repeat something the same way four different times. Every variation is completely different.”

Schmidt recalls that when Sharp Nelson got a new cello, the pair played with all the different textures of the instrument.

“Each time, it would give a different tone,” he says. “We tried to figure out how to incorporate it all into our live show. It’s actually really fun to go through the process. We’ve thought about letting people in and see our process through the final mix. There’s a lot that goes into getting a song into the final product. All of us enjoy the journey each song takes us on.”

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