The car: 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300
- Launched his career as a boy, soprano soloist with the Vancouver, Edmonton, and Seattle Opera Companies; at 16, performed the role of Jesus in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar in Brisbane, Australia
- Is a featured soloist on Chanticleer’s album, Sound in Spirit
- Was a member of the Canadian national track and field team at the Pan-American Junior Games
- The Tenors just released the CD, Lead With Your Heart
- Current tour includes shows in Maryland Nov. 23-25 and Arizona Dec. 15-16; Canadian tour dates run from Feb. 5 in Vancouver to April 13 in Ottawa
Fraser Walters is hitting a high note these days.
The former member of the Grammy award-winning a cappella group, Chanticleer, is singing another tune; this one is with The Tenors.
The four-man vocal ensemble has just released a new CD, called Lead With Your Heart. Part of the launch includes a whirlwind, 70-city North American tour. Unfortunately, with his hectic schedule, he won’t have much time to drive his 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Sport at home in Los Angeles.
Why did you choose a Mercedes C300?
It was a lease my wife had. My wife had an Audi 4 in the past and there were some different possibilities discussed. But at that point, we got a good deal on the Mercedes and it made sense to keep it. We were moving to Los Angeles and we actually shipped it out there.
It’s nice to have it in a sunny climate because it’s got a double sunroof so you get a lot of natural light. When you live in Los Angeles, you do a fair amount of driving because the public transportation system leaves something to be desired.
The car is a lot of fun to drive. It’s pretty sporty. The first time I drove the car I was on tour in Delaware. I was so excited driving it. I got a speeding ticket the very first time I drove it. If you’re not responsible with its power. it can get away from you.
It’s a powerful car. It’s a 3-litre V-6 engine. It’s a sport edition so it’s a bit lowered with tinted windows for UV and privacy. It’s got 4Matic all-wheel-drive. It’s hard to find anything you don’t like about a beautifully designed car like that.
What does a Mercedes say about you?
I don’t know if the car defines me. We’re both very sporty and love the outdoors. We strap boards on top of it and we cruise up and down the coast.
I don’t hold too much weight in being defined by it. We feel what we do defines us. It’s a nice perk to have nice wheels to get around in.
Are you a car guy?
Yeah. I definitely know what’s under the hood.
I wouldn’t venture, in this day and age, to take a wrench to a fan belt because so many things are electronic these days. The computer systems on these cars are very detailed and intricate. I leave it up to the professionals instead of taking a stab at it myself.
What was your first car?
The first car I bought was a Mercury Topaz in high school. It only had two doors – I called it a sport coupe. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking. But I was pretty proud of it at the time.
It was a couple of grand. I bought it with my own money from odd jobs and singing. I look back and think that’s quite a young age to have all that responsibility. I’m glad I made it out unscathed.
When I started university I had a Saturn SL2. I wanted something reliable at that time. I was pretty practical back then. I did my homework. That specific Saturn had a very good reliability rating. It certainly wasn’t flashy, but at that point you’re thinking how to save money and how not to spend time in the car shop.
Do you sing when driving?
We have no shortage of stories of rehearsing and warming up in the car.
We actually landed in New York for our first audition with Beka records, a subsidiary of Universal, our record label and we were behind schedule. We got into a cab and it’s the four tenors. We’re speeding into town. We were warming up because we were going to be late for our audition. We’re doing our unique warm-ups and they sound very strange to an untrained ear. One guy was doing lip drills and someone else is sounding like an injured goat.
The driver thought we were making fun of him and got very upset. He slammed on the brakes in the middle of a Manhattan street and yelled at us to get out of the cab! We said, ‘No we can’t!’ We pleaded with him: ‘No sir. We’re not making fun of you! We’re singers, going to an audition!’ But he didn’t want to hear it.
I believe he was Haitian – he was a French speaker. We sang a song in harmony from a famous musical, Notre Dame de Paris, which is very famous in France and Quebec. We started singing to this guy to prove we were going on an audition. You could see his face completely change and he became emotional listening to this music in the middle of the street. He apologized profusely, slammed his foot on the gas, got us there and would not charge us.
We ended up doing the audition and getting the record contract – it was a pretty amazing day for us.
One time in the Netherlands just outside of Amsterdam we were heading to a gig and the driver unfortunately put the wrong type of gas in a diesel. It was a bit of a worry – we were under tight time constraints. We had to wait at one of those rest stops on the side of the highway for a couple of hours. We all got out of the bus and we rehearsed a bit and then we started an impromptu soccer game. Music is an international language and so is football, or soccer.
What’s your worst driving memory?
When I was five my parents, had an old Volvo, a 1975 in a light chocolate brown. I was the youngest of three boys and we loved to fool around – ride bikes or wrestle on the lawn. I don’t know what got into me. One day I decided to go in the car and start shifting the gear around. I somehow got the emergency brake down and our driveway was on an incline and it started to roll backward. It rolled across the street and on to the neighbour’s driveway.
The window was open and I was screaming bloody murder. My mom ran down and reached through the window just before I hit the neighbour’s garage. That was my first driving experience – it was pretty frightening.
If I can bring you the keys to any vehicle what would it be?
Living in California opens your eyes to a different appreciation, especially for older cars. We love classic cars. We’re big fans of the old Broncos. They’re not as great on gas – we’ll have to invent the world’s first electric Bronco. A vintage 1978 Bronco – it’s a cool beach cruiser.