Exclusive interview with Michael Austin
Interview by Jamie Ruby and Karen Moul
Written by Karen MoulThe Voice
is down to its top ten contestants, who will compete again this week in live shows. Looking for some inside scoop, we caught up with Michael Austin, the country artist eliminated from Team Adam during the battle rounds.
Austin knew before his blind audition that he wanted to work with Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine. "I just wanted to try something different and think outside the box," he explained, "and I figured I had the best shot at doing that with Adam. I really wanted to see how far he'd go or what his ideas on a country song would be."
In the end, it may not have been a perfect fit. "I felt like I was a little bit part of his learning curve," said Austin, "which was non-advantageous to me. And [he admitted] he was getting an education as we were going along. I think he would be a better choice maybe in a couple of seasons from now, if he had more of a grasp of country music."
Many viewers disagreed with Levine's decision to go with Warren Stone. Austin says the experience taught him that the show isn't only about the voice, and that the coaches can influence each other's decisions. Said Austin:
"When Usher talked to Warren he said the death words as far as it being about the voice anymore. He said 'You brought a youthful feel to it,' which means you obviously look younger than Mike. And he said 'And you brought that country swag,' and then he started talking about when he was shaking his booty. And in that pressure cooker, I watched Adam's face change. And I knew right then that I'd lost the battle. There was no way I was going to recover from that because it just went to image. It wasn't about the voice anymore, it went to image."
After being a part of the show, Austin has some thougts on how NBC's hit can be even better.
"I love the blind auditions and I'm not trashing the show in any way," he explained. "I just think there's a better way to do it after the blinds to maintain the integrity of calling the show The Voice
"Sometimes I think it would be best," he continued, "if they just laid the whole thing in America's hands after the coaches turn their chairs and then they could actually be coaches. You put them in a situation where if America's voting then all they're going to do is coach you to the best of their abilities.
"It kind of takes away from The Voice
when it's not the voice anymore. Immediately it goes to the critiquing of what are they doing on stage, how are they moving? And that all goes on a coach's head and it kind of, I think, detracts from the coaching.
"It's a very big topic around the campfire when the contestants are talking, for sure."
But Austin has little time to dwell on his experience, he's too busy juggling his full-time job as a deputy sheriff and performing with his band, Austin Law. "After filming and losing the battle," he explained, "I went to work [at the sheriff's department] the following Monday night, because I knew I needed to jump into it or I'd overthink everything. And the department opened its arms, pulled me back into the fold and I'm out protecting my city."
Austin says his coworkers have been "super supportive. The department has had their arms wide open on this from the gate because they know how hard I work.
"It was a worry of mine that maybe the notoriety might get some unwanted recognition," he confided. "But so far, so good; everything seems to be working out. I just handled a call at the mall and had about 15 people wanting me to sign stuff and take pictures in the uniform."
As if his day job and the band don't keep him busy enough, Austin is also back in the studio. "I'm working on a brand new record right now," he confided, "and [I'm] very excited with that because of the caliber of songwriters that I'm working with, the material that's come across my desk during song selection is absolutely amazing.
"We're looking to release an album maybe late summer or early fall and try and drop a single around the same time." Fans can also look forward to a bonus Christmas single that will come out during the holiday season.
Has his busy schedule left him time to speak with any of his fellow contestants? "Oh, yeah. Pressure builds strong bonds and I'm still friends with a lot of people.
"I just talked to Patrick Dodd the other night, I talked to Warren the other day and I've talked to the Morgan Twins and geez, just everybody. Everybody is on my phone. Agina Alvarez, everybody on my team, Ryan from Midas Whale, I had a two-hour conversation with him yesterday. Because in the industry supporting each other is paramount. At this level where we're at, we're all soldiers in this war so we all fight together, we gain ground and accomplish great things."
So what does Austin think of the remaining competitors? Can a country artist be The Voice?
"I think there is some country talent on this season," he says. "I'm a huge fan of the Swon brothers. I love Sarah Simmons, there's a bunch of different ways that she can go. And then Danielle Bradbery, she's vocally talented as anybody I've ever heard and she's only, what, 16 years old? She probably has a huge career ahead of her."
Austin has an ear for talent - all three of those artists have made the top ten. Tune in to The Voice
Monday and Tuesday at 8/9c to see who advances.