Locals leading charge

BENTON – Before the Arkansas Razorbacks hired Bret Bielema this past December, rumors swirled about who may take over as the head coach after a horrific 4-8 season in 2012. Super Bowl-winning coach and current Monday Night Football announcer Jon Gruden was included in the rumor-mill and three Razorbacks fans attempted to serenade Gruden to the Razorbacks’ helm with their version of Beatles’ classic “Hey Jude” with “Hey Grude.”

Though unsuccessful in landing Gruden, “Hey Grude” has over 185,000 views on YouTube and that group, Triple Threat, is back to get Hogs fans excited about the season. Benton natives Will Richey, Caleb Conrad and Tyler Davis are Triple Threat and they recently released a new video called “Never Yield”, a play off of rapper Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”. The video has become a hit to Arkansas fans and has garnered over 55,000 views.

“We wanted something exciting and get everybody hyped up,” Conrad said. “We knew “Hey Grude” was popular in part because of The Beatles, so it talked to every generation. We wanted something exciting and that’s what Macklemore is.”

But before the group was entertaining and pumping up Arkansas fans, the trio were just injured Benton Panther football players when Richey and Davis, who have been friends since the third grade, met Conrad his sophomore year.

“They’re a year ahead of me and I broke my thumb, which was a career-ender for me,” Conrad explained. “I got so used to doing nothing, I didn’t want to get back to practice. I wasn’t that good anyway.

“The coach would have us watch game film, keep certain things; when you’re hurt, you’re working still. We would just start talking. Football was our common denominator, so we would talk football, Razorback football definitely. We got together and started watching games.”

All three sang in the Benton choir, and according to Triple Threat’s Facebook page, “the three ‘threats’ the group brings to a show consist of pure and tight harmonies, individual vocal talent and the ability to construct creative arrangements that are unique and entertaining.”
“We started singing and doing cover songs,” Conrad said.

“We were wanting to do something for the new season because we believe in this team and think they can do big things. We wanted to get everybody excited about the season. Originally it started out with the hiring of Bret Bielema, but Bielema doesn’t rhyme with anything, and it doesn’t really go with anything. We had some ideas to try and incorporate “Don’t Stop Believing” (Journey). We just decided to write about the whole team, giving the players a call out.”

“Never Yield” also has appearances from American Idol winner and Arkansas native Kris Allen, and former Razorbacks quarterback Matt Jones. Davis said being persistent on Twitter helped land Allen.

“With the Kris Allen thing, he had just had a baby,” Conrad said. “We knew he was home. We got in touch with his manager and we got to see his baby before he even posted his first picture up.

“I think the deal-maker was we got his baby a onesie,” Davis added. “A Hog onesie we got embroidered. How can you say no to that?”

Allen didn’t say no and lent his talents to the group. Matt Jones was just being Matt Jones, the group said.

“Matt Jones was very cool, calm and collected,” Conrad said. “We’re big Matt Jones fans and that was how he was. Never rattled, always there and he’s a really good guy.”

As for how the group thinks the Hogs will fare this year?

“I think Bielema has a lot more confidence in this team than a lot of people in the state do,” Richey said. “I really do think seven or eight wins. Consistency is the name of the game.”

“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” Davis added about the Razorbacks. “I think eight wins is really possible, even though our schedule is tough.”

Richey and Davis are currently starting their junior years at Ouachita Baptist University, with Richey majoring in music to become a music minister. “My career path is definitely with music.”

Davis is going a different route in which he has already made good contacts for in the video production side of his major.

“I’m studying mass communications and I want to do sports broadcasting or sports journalism,” Davis said.

Conrad will be a sophomore at Henderson State University, is studying political science and plans on going to law school. Though Conrad is not going to school with his other two bandmates, both universities are located in Arkadelphia, less than five minutes away from each other. The trio agree that they love singing and will go as far as the music lets them.

“As a group, we tried out for X Factor in April,” Conrad said. “It was in New Orleans so we drove down there. We made it to the third round and you just don’t know. We actually got a call back saying we made a short list for TV, but they didn’t choose us for the short list. We made it pretty far, though we didn’t make the live show. We’re kind of talking about going back.

“We sing at little places, like OBU has a coffee house and we’ll sing little acoustic sets, so yeah, we definitely like singing for people. Wherever it takes us, it does.”

“We’re not out there hard-core pushing it,” Davis said about the group’s music career.

Though Triple Threat isn’t pushing it, there are plans in the works, thanks in large part to friends of the trio.

“One is our manager [Tyler Rosenthal] and he just knows everyone,” Conrad said. “He’s gotten us all of our things on the news. We’re even talking to some people about possibly doing a pep rally before a Hog game, or a national anthem. [Rosenthal] has been really, really good for us.

“We have another friend named David Winkler, who does Winkler Films, he did the Never Yield video, and also the Keep Your Head Up video, and he does really good work. We knew we wanted really good production value, and he gave it to us. We’re really thankful for that.”

With the new season around the corner, Conrad had an idea.

“I think if they play “Never Yield” before the games, it will definitely help the team’s morale.”