Jared Blake from Season One of NBC's The Voice: We're gonna ROCK this Country!

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I met Jared prior to this interview and watching him live was an experience I had to share with others. When I was asked to join the ZrockR team I knew my first interview would be with Jared.

You may also be wondering why I chose Jared since he is more of a country artist. Well, I'll tell you now that he and his band can rock with the best of them. He has an amazing band and he's one of the most down to earth musicians I have ever met. Give him a listen on YouTube or whatever media you use and be prepared to enjoy some great music. This interview was held in Seymour, Indiana right before his show at On The Rox. His girlfriend, Jennifer, also helped with this interview.

Susan: Who or what got you into the music business?

Jared: Ironically it was my father, he wouldn't let me play football and to get back at him I joined choir. He was a man's man and he didn't like that kind of stuff so I joined the choir. It turned out it worked, that first year in choir I took all region, all state, all that kind of stuff singing classical pieces. The next year I wanted to try my hand at something different. They had a talent contest at school, I picked "Don't Rock the Jukebox" by Alan Jackson and the auditorium just screamed, and the first time I heard a bunch of chicks screaming, that was all it took. It was really shallow but that was it.

Susan: If you weren't in a band what would you be doing now?

Jared: Trying to get into a band.

Susan: If you couldn't do music what would you be doing?

Jared: I've had this, I have had nightmares about this and it always leads back to music. I've had nightmares of someone like me losing my voice and I would just keep writing music. If you cut off my hands I would probably ask for a little harness thing with a harmonica and I'd start playing, I'd keep doing it somehow. I don't think any musician does this if they think there is an option of doing something else. It's too painful, nobody wants to deal with this crap.

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Susan: What is the current line-up of the band?

Jared: Chris Sorenson on lead guitar, Will Gustofson on lead guitar as well, Tommy Michaels on bass, and Alan Jones on drums.

Susan: Who are some of your influences in music?

Jared: The biggest influences would probably be three; Bob Segar, Johnny Cash, and Guns 'N Roses, all for specific reasons. Bob Segar was the soul and lyrical content. Johnny Cash was just the rawness and honesty of everything especially for that era of music, they were just no holds barred. Guns 'N Roses because of that same reason, the guitars would just slice your head off and that definitely evolved and really shaped who we are. Everything's pretty country but we got guitars in it, the soul is obvious in the music as well. There are a lot of other influences but those are definitely the top three.

Susan: What is your favorite song of all the songs you have sang?

Jared: Allman Brothers - Soulshine

Susan: What is your favorite song that you wrote?

Jared: Change

Susan: How do you stay so grounded being in the music industry when there is so much negative stuff? You are really down to earth and don't have a huge ego, how do you do that?

Jared: It's been something that from day one to me was very, very important because you want people involved and then you turn into an asshole. A lot of them started off as assholes in fairness, but I think it's just being the fact that I continue being aware of that and I don't want that, if that makes any sense.

I watched my brother as well, he was in med school and we were talking about it one day, he said "It's no wonder so many doctors have egos, because you start off one day in med school and they call you doctordoctordoctor before you're even a doctor." They continuosly almost teach you the fact that you are smarter than most people. While you realize this they are kinda like setting up an ego within all these people that they are smarter than most people."

That really kind of registered to me, the fact that coming off 'The Voice' realizing that all you had was your fans. While the fans put you on a different level your fans are exactly the only reason you get to do what you do anyways. So there's no way to feel like you are better or get an ego about you. Whenever you realize that it's the people that are making you who you are. She beats me on a regular basis so that helps out a lot (Jared points to the love of his life, Jennifer). Now look at the band, there is a whip in there (pointing to their van)

Susan: She's probably not using it.

Jared: I bought the whip but didn't know at that time she was gonna use it. (laughs)

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Susan: Do you have any horror stories from being on the road?

Jared: I thought you said whore, sorry. Horror stories, the road is full of them, how bad are we talking? Are you talking about running over a band member?

Susan: I hope you haven't run over band members.

Jared: No, we did leave one somewhere once but we meant to.

Susan: We may not want to know that story (laugh)

Jennifer: We went back and got him, it was a practical joke, only we let it go real fast.

Susan: Was it a practical joke or one of these things where you just needed to get away from them and leave them somewhere.

Jennifer: No, we thought we all would scare him.

Jared: There were the people that came out with this bus driver. The cops showed up as soon as we got to the next town.

Jennifer: That was kind of one of the worst ones.

Jared: We chose to leave them in that town. Yeah, that was a horror thing. It's all typical stuff you know, like vans breaking down and buses breaking down.

Jennifer: We had a bus driver that brought a girlfriend that was a fan and when he drove the bus, the next day, when we got there she called the cops on us.

Jared: It turns out that they both had restraining orders against each other and were up on some pretty major charges.

No, the real horror stories are us getting "raped" by mechanics. We had something blow in the van one day and it was on a Sunday. So we pulled into a truck stop and they tried to charge us $5,000 to fix this problem. We were like no we think you're full of crap. We stayed overnight and went to the Ford dealership which we know is going to overcharge you. The next day they charged us $300 to fix it.

Jennifer: There is also the promoter that didn't pay you.

Jared: There has been plenty of promoters like that.

Jennifer: Yeah but this was like the week of Christmas.

Jared: Well that was probably the worst one. You're running a pretty tight budget on the road when you're doing everything yourself as well. We had a promoter right before Christmas not pay us. With six kids that was pretty rough.

Jennifer: People forget this is his job.

Jared: Those are the ones that hurt the most when the promoters fall through or someone doesn't pay you. We run our company the way our guys always get paid so it is coming straight out of us every time.

Susan: I run a small promotional company myself and I work with local and national bands. I do it for free and do not charge anyone because musicians like Jared move me with their music so much that I want everyone to hear him. I want people to hear this talent that I have experienced.

Jennifer: That is the power of music what you are doing. It heals peoples lives, it touches their lives, it gives more to their lives. In good ways and bad ways. Any way you love music so much that you feel like you're able to do more stuff to promote those things you feel so in love with. Even if it's just telling your neighbor about music, that is the power of music.

Susan: You write a lot of your own songs, where do you get your inspiration from?

Jared: I write all of them, but inspiration is just all around. Most of the stuff comes from my life. A lot of times it'll stem from somebody else's or something the bands just talking about, issues that are going on with somebody. Sometimes honestly they come out of absolutely nowhere like "Change." When I wrote it I had kind of had it with the industry. I was thinking about stopping altogether. I prayed about it and I put my guitar down and decided I wouldn't pick it up again until I felt like God had told me to. I put it down for three months and for a guy that writes every single day that was pretty amazing. One day I picked it back up. I had no reason why or thought wise. I sat down on my porch and saw a bird on the mailbox across the road. Everything just stemmed from there. I had no idea what I was writing, I just kept writing. By the time I got to the end of it, it ended up being one of the most spiritual opening songs I had ever written in my life. I didn't know what it was about until it was over.

Susan: Wow good song.

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Jared: One of favorite stories about writing, you obviously (Susan) know some of my gifts and everything. I had a pretty extensive issue with alcohol and drugs. We were in studio at Sony in Nashville one night, I was high at the time and we'd already written two songs. I got up to go to the bathroom when I came back one buddies was doing this little riff. I just remember telling him to keep playing it. So I got on my computer and started typing and that was all I remember writing. I woke up the next day and my buddy called me and said you wrote a religious song last night, I was like no way dude. Cause I am in my head that night, cause we had drank alcohol and done drugs that night. Whatever we had done there was no way. The song 'A Better Man' off the first album. We played in a town probably six months after coming off of "The Voice." A guy walked in and I still had no idea how the song came about or anything. A guy comes in, he had the chorus tattooed on his arm. He said he had gotten the tattoo in prison. That he heard that song on "The Voice" and that he did research about me and how that was my life, that's who I was and who I became. He decided to do this for his little girl. He stopped drinking, stopped doing drugs, stopped committing crimes. He was a bouncer at the club, had an honest job, and he gave that song the credit for it. I feel like I didn't even write it, I don't remember anything about it.

Stay tuned for part 2 in the next edition of ZRockR!

~Susan Graham

Show pics by Susan Graham ©2013 Susan Graham/ ZRockR/ Run For Cover Publications LLC
Promo photos © Jared Blake all rights reserved

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