"Every song has a setup, a backstory and a personal experience that somebody in the band had with the artist or the song," Gates said. "People love that, because they feel like they're getting a glimpse behind the scenes."
For the musicians, touring is a different animal this time around. The inevitable glitches are taken in stride: At one show, the power onstage went out, so the group finished the set a cappella, to a standing ovation.
"Back then, you really couldn't appreciate it," Shapiro said. "You're a young, cocky kid and it's like, 'Hey, here I am, I've arrived,' and you start to feel a little entitlement. Now, nobody's saying, 'Hey, Russ is singing two songs in the first half and I'm not,' or 'the light wasn't on me.'
"It's like we have all the magical, cool parts of it and none of the BS."
The Hit Men:
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