It’s been a long few months of hitting the road for former The Voice contestant Jared Blake. The Team Blake Shelton member has been busy writing for his new record, filming a music video, and a pretty cool app he’ll be launching soon for his fans. Find out what he’s been up to, how his life has changed since being on NBC’s “The Voice”, what advice he has for next year’s Team Blake members, what habit of Blake Shelton’s that he’s picked up, and all about his new single and music video “Don’t Mind.” He’s the first in our “Looking back at The Voice” segments. Keep an eye out for our interviews with Dia Frampton, Curtis Grimes, and Elenowen in the coming week.
Going into The Voice, no one really knew what it was about or how big it was going to get. Were you surprised at how successful it was and what was it about “The Voice” that made you want to try out?
I was absolutely shocked at its success. I don’t think anyone could have been prepared for what you were about to get. I had a lot of people that were dealing with “The Voice” that kept pushing me to go do it, “dude, this is gonna be huge.” You know, everybody in the music industry, the entertainment industry, are always saying that something’s gonna be huge and it never is (laughs). So, the reason that I went on, however, was much more my fiancee. I’ve been in Nashville for the last 13 years, writing for publishing companies and performing. My idea of country music is much more old school; I like the idea of just touring and building that fan-base. Because I had a lot of that rock edge to me, sometimes that’s a little scary for people. They don’t want to think about it necessarily.
So, my fiancee told me, “you just need to get in front of people.” She had convinced me to audition for a show that was then called “Hit Makers” which was then called “Platinum Hits” on Bravo!. I made it pretty far in that, I think just enough to get a buzz of “I want to do this now.” So, when “The Voice” auditions came around, I went to support a writer friend who was trying out. His manager came up to me like “hey, you know, you should go and try out for The Voice, I know when they’re holding auditions.” He told me to do it, and I trusted him, and my fiancee egged me on so I finally did it. I couldn’t be any more happy that I did it, obviously the show was a huge success.
Speaking of your Fiancee and your kids, what were they thinking when they saw you on tv every week?
You know, surprisingly enough, it didn’t seem weird to anybody. You know, I thought the kids would respond more, but they kind of responded in a way like “well yeah, it’s about time.” Being in Nashville the last thirteen years, they’ve known a lot of people that were just buddies of mine that blew up and wound up on the radio. So, we’re watching friends of mine on TV for years, ever since they’ve been alive. So, it didn’t seem like a big deal to them at all. They just saw it as Daddy doing what he does.
You had the chance to work with Reba McEntire on the show. What was it like working with such a huge star in such a close setting, and did she give you any advice that you took to heart?
You know, I kind of had a suspicion of what was going to happen when she came in. I didn’t think it would effect me that much, like I said, being around Nashville for so long you’ve been around a lot of stars. But that setting, being again what it was, it was the most surreal moment of the show because you’ve literally just been given a song that you’re going to perform in the Battle Round, and they stick you in front of a piano with this amazing band director and in walks Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire. You’re like – it all happens in a ten minute span. It’s definitely the most surreal.
The best advice that I got from Blake or Reba was the same advice. Reba said, “you know, I just love everything about you. You’re totally original. You’re totally you. Just stay true to that, just keep being yourself and you’re a great performer, so you need to rely on that to win over the crowd.” That was advice that stayed with me – who doesn’t want to hear that you’re great, just keep doing it?
Speaking of Blake’s advice… You two didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with your “style.” Has that changed at all with him? Do you still stay in contact with him?
Yes, I still stay in contact with him, and yeah, I think things have changed. I mean, obviously it’s a show and you’re stuck in the middle of it and everybody’s trying to get to know each other. Blake’s had the chance to look at some of the material that I’ve written over the year since then, and he’s seen my vision of country. I grew up in a town of 2,000 people that was out in the middle of the sticks out in Arkansas, and to me, country is just who I am. Rock, or any other kind of music, is just a state of mind and what you want to do with it. I’m country through and through and that’s where my lyrics lean and that’s where I lean. I’m not gonna lie, there was a little bit of an influence growing up between Johnny Cash and Guns N’ Roses, probably the two that inspired me the most. But I’m still country. I love everything about it, I love the people in it, I love the fanbase. That’s what I keep pursuing.
If you could give any advice to someone who will end up on Team Blake next season, what would you tell them?
It would go the same for any team they’re on. Javier really stuck to his guns and knew exactly what he wanted to portray and he won the show. If you know who you are, stick with it. You have no sick bet on what’s going to happen, so you might as well let America know who you are.
You weren’t picked the first time around in the Blind Auditions. What were your feelings when you were told you had a second chance, then saw Blake Shelton turn around in his chair for you?
(laughs) Probably as much disbelief as it was when they let me go the first time. I think in any case like that with all of us involved. You’re shocked when you go home and you’re shocked when you stay.
You’ve been really active on Twitter and you’ve been great at interacting with your fans. What is it about Twitter that is so important to you?
That was a direct influence from Blake. I saw his fans and saw how faithful they were. I noticed that not a lot of the country guys are really that active on Twitter. I noticed that his fan base, how active he stayed with them. Twitter wasn’t something that I was keen on at all. Until I started engaging fans, then you realize how much it meant to them and in turn, does a whole lot of things for you. It was mind-blowing to know that people were so, so shocked that you were responding to something they’ve asked or something they’ve said. Which just gives you that much greater of a love for your fans.
I also took that advice from seeing some of the guys that were on different reality shows that went before me, like Lukas Rossi won “Rockstar: Supernova,” he’s a friend of mine, and I watch him, same way, stay in touch with his fans so hardcore on Twitter. It’s something that – it’s such an instant communication between you and your fans, versus Facebook or anything else. There’s a big need for it. As a matter of fact, my fiancee goes “you misspelled this, you don’t punctuate this and yadda yadda.” You know, that’s part of what the coolness is that is Blake’s: he doesn’t punctuate correctly either, and his misspells stuff, and he says stuff that sometimes gets him into trouble; and that’s exactly why you can tell it’s Blake.
It’s not somebody sitting in their office. So, I really took to that. You watch other Tweets and realize how maybe fake some of those sounded. You can almost read through and realize who’s actually handling their Twitter accounts and who’s not. Another really big important part to me is that the fans mean way, way more – I’ve been pursuing this my whole life, but my fans mean way, way more to me that I could ever mean to them.
Speaking of Twitter, you mentioned on there that you were planning out the music video for your new single “Don’t Mind.” Any hints to what the video’s gonna be like?
(laughs) It’s gonna be exactly like the song. It’s… No, I don’t think I can give you any hints on that. It’s country. It’s my style of country though.
Do you know when that’s gonna be released at all?
We’re looking at and hoping for the end of October, end of this month.
Is that for the music video, single, or both?
Well, I’m hoping for both.
How’s the fan reaction been to the single on the road?
That was the whole reason we picked it as a single. It’s talked about by fans, I’m constantly getting messages about it before we decided to record it. It was one of those where I would show up in a town and they were asking for it before I played it. So it was kind of a given, it was like “well, I’ll give it to them.”
You were a songwriter for a few years with Sony. Have you been able to narrow down tracks for your new album?
We’ve got it narrowed down, but I wrote for Sony and Bob DiPiero for three years. I came into that deal with probably 150 songs there on the table, and left with probably over 300. We’ve narrowed it down quite a bit but at the same time I’m always writing. We’re kind of using the fans, even with that. We’ll just play a new song on the road and seeing what grabs their attention. You know, your best song to you might be one that no one else will care about. You can see what’s effecting the fans and what they’re digging and why.
When you’re writing your songs, where does your inspiration come from? Do you usually write the melody or the lyrics first?
My inspiration comes from all different sides. Typically, it’s always something about my life. If it’s not my life, it’s the life of a close friend or a relative. If you listen to my songs, you’ll hear my life story. As far as the melody and lyrically they both come at different times. I’d say most of the time it’s typically just me sitting around on my guitar playing something that catches my attention. That will typically evoke some kind of emotion. I try to find something in my life that can relate to that emotion.
You’ve been really busy hitting the road the last little while. Is there a city or venue that you want to play but haven’t had the chance to yet?
Um, all of them (laughs). All of them. We’re, let’s see… I don’t know if there’s a particular one. The weird thing about that is that you have these visions of places you want to play and sometimes they’re okay, and sometimes you show up to a town that you don’t think anybody knows who you are at all, and the place packs out. That’s been the incredible part, that you try to have a gauge on where to play so much. For an artist like myself, I’m a little more popular in the South East, but we’ll go to Washington and we’ll fill up with more people in Washington than we did in Florida. You just never know.
So, since I’m from Canada, I have to ask.. any plans to tour up North here?
Definitely have plans up there. For some odd reason, we have a lot of fans coming from Canada. With Canada, it’s one of those things that it’s a pretty long tour if you’re going to get up there. I can’t jump on a private jet to get up there, so we gotta book a ton of gigs along the way and back in order to make it possible, but it’s definitely something we’re trying to do.
You’re about to launch a new app….
The app is something that my manager put together that I think is just freakin’ awesome. It’s a free app and basically comes with a bunch of my songs, and you can listen to them on there. It’ll show any information on me, pictures, basically any detail that you would want. Basically, it acts like a mini-website on your phone. Any sort of blogging, all that stuff. Like I said, you can listen to music for free on it.
If you could tour with any one artist in any one genre, who would you choose?
Yeah, I gotta say right now it’s Miranda Lambert. I would love to do that with her. The fan base is right in line. On a different note, Colt Ford. I’d really like to do some stuff with him.
Is there an artist on your iPod your fans would be shocked that you have on there?
Hmm… man, I listen to pretty much everything. So, something that they would be shocked? Maybe Jack Johnson.
What’s the best piece of advice that anybody’s ever given to you about the business?
I think it goes back to Reba. Just be yourself because you see a lot of guys that get in there and have a career and they find success, and sometimes they have success with things they might not have had wanted to have success at. I think the worst place you can be is to be trapped in doing something that you love that you don’t actually love. Makes sense?
I think just be yourself. At the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is fail at something and it may only be because I did something that everybody else told me.
What else can fans expect from you this year? Any surprises in store?
Any surprises? There’s definitely a lot of surprises going on right now, I don’t know which ones but you definitely might see a little more TV stuff coming into the picture. Or, I’m working on some things right now, we’re hopin’ that you’re gonna see a record deal fall in to play. Yeah, I mean the TV is the biggest stuff that we got going on that might be kind of a shock to everyone.
I had a few Blake fans that wanted me to ask you this, just to set the record straight for Blake: Are you rock or country?
That’s what I thought.
Check out Jared’s amazing original song, and single, “Don’t Mind”:
You can get a hold of Jared Blake through: