Reality television is something the modern world has been fascinated by since The Real World premiered in 1992 and showed us the ‘true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives taped’. Through the years, our culture has become even more absorbed with the lives of TV stars, real and imagined. Sometimes we find a piece of ourselves in these people, and sometimes we’re just too amused by the way they live their lives to change the channel.
In the early 2000s, competition-based reality television programs grew in popularity, opening the doors for largely unscripted singing-competition shows like NBC’s The Voice, an uplifting program that celebrates the talent of its stars. Contestants are chosen through blind auditions by some of the biggest musicians in the world for a chance at $100,000 and a record deal.
LIKEYOUSAID had the chance to catch up with Season 7 Voice runner-up Matt McAndrew during his tour with the Plain White T’s. In this interview, Matt opens up about what exactly happens behind the scenes of The Voice. Read LIKEYOUSAID’s full interview with Matt McAndrew below.
Hello, this is Lia Gurin and Kayla Dupras of LIKEYOUSAID. Could you tell us your name and what you do?
Matt: Hi! I’m Matt McAndrew and I’m a singer/songwriter.
Thank you for joining us! Your season of The Voice was certainly our favorite thus far. I’m so happy that America saved you and that your voice brought you all the way to the finals.
Matt: Thank you, me too.
As an avid viewer of The Voice, I am always wondering about what happens behind the scenes of the show, especially in that period between getting the chairs to turn and returning to the stage for the Battle Round. We see such a small snippet of this experience from our respective living rooms. Could you describe the period of time between your first performance and your return to the stage?
Matt: That’s the biggest luxury of time that you get between rounds on the show because the beginning of the show is taped in advance. We had our songs a month before we had to do them, so we had time to go home and practice them on our own and the schedule isn’t always the same for shooting, but that’s how it worked out for us. I got to sit with [Coldplay’s] “Yellow” for a good while and practice it and I was really determined to outdo my blind performance, because I was, really, really nervous for my blind performance, but that’s another story. Whereas with the live shows, everything still has to take place that happened in that month period between Blinds and Battles except it happens in 4 to 5 days.
Wow! That’s surprising to hear.
Matt: Yeah, because I remember in the live performance I did “Blowers Daughter”, then I got changed, came right back to The Voice stage that same night and the audience cleared out and me and Adam did a rehearsal for “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” that night. Then the next day was eliminations and I stayed in and it was like ‘Okay, you are going to do that song’ so that’s the speed that The Voice moves at. And when you go back for the live shows, if you stay ’til the end, you’re there for the whole month or month and a half.
We saw a lot of your mom and sister, Meredith, on the show. Now your sister manages you. Was that always a dream for the both of you to tour together or did it just work out that way?
Matt: I think it just worked out that way. The first tour we did was in the summer and I wanted to bring her to kind of help out and so I had family with me, for my own comfort, but then it really turned out that we needed her help on the road and she was really great at it.
And now you’re both living in LA.
Matt: We are!
What I imagine being the most surreal part of being on The Voice is that moment when the NBC crew travels to your hometown with you and you go from being Matt McAndrew who played ice cream parlors and local shows in New Jersey to being this TV superstar. Has anything changed for you since being on the show, do people still treat you the same?
Matt: I don’t think there’s any difference. I am who I am and it’s obvious that I haven’t changed as a person; I think everyone would pick up on that. As far as going back home, my favorite thing is going back to the area I grew up in, in South Jersey! That’s just a different level of mania. I love going back to my high school because those kids are so stoked about the whole thing.
You went back during the show, didn’t you? What was that experience like?
Matt: That was one of the first shows I did in between the break of shooting after my Blind had aired and that was my first experience post being on TV. And yeah, it was crazy. I remember trying to walk backstage and hearing girls scream and stuff and it was weird! It was like a Beatles moment, like, What is this? It was way more than I was expecting. I didn’t even know how many people would show up and then it sold out. That’s my favorite though, I have a lot of love for my hometown area, it’s just nice to go back.
I like that you brought up The Beatles because I watched a video where you said that despite being a huge Beatles fan, you would choose Adam Levine as a coach over John Lennon…
Matt: I did say that, we just always clicked. He was the perfect coach for me.
Photo by Kayla Dupras
One Beatles fan to another, favorite album?
Matt: Probably Rubber Soul, I like that one a lot.
Is John Lennon the reason why you wear the round glasses?
Matt: No, I was going for the Doctor Jones look with these.
Meredith: As in, Indiana Jones. [Laughs.]
When it comes to The Voice, song selection becomes crucial, especially when you get as far as you did in the competition. Are there any songs that you sang that you wish you hadn’t, is there something you would’ve maybe done differently?
Matt: Hm, well, the one that sticks out is “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and that was mostly hard for me because I was trying not to cry the whole time. It’s just a really emotional song and I felt like I was singing about my dreams and it was just a culmination of all my time on the show, which was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was pretty much just an emotional wreck and couldn’t get through the song; I couldn’t even get through rehearsals without crying so maybe I could have picked something less emotional.
You have spent much of this year writing and on the road, doing some songs from the show and your two singles, “Wasted Love” and “Counting on Love”, both great, great songs. It must have been crazy to learn that your song went to number one on iTunes.
Matt: Oh yeah, it really was incredible.
What do you like to listen to in between performing?
Matt: I’m listening to a lot of Paramore right now. Hayley’s so dope. That was on my list of people I wanted to duet with on The Voice. I also had Patrick Stump on there. I’m obviously super stoked I got to play with Fall Out Boy.
What about your dream tour?
Matt: Radiohead so that I can see them every day.
Lastly, what’s next for you in 2016?
Matt: We were just talking about this. I’m going to go home and finish a record that I’ve been writing, I’m going to record that, put that out. Then I’m going to go to Nashville and do a bunch of co-writing, and then I’m going to put that record out, whatever comes of that. I might start or join a band to do side project stuff and we’re also getting into some philanthropy madness.
Meredith: We have two really great causes we’re working with. One is very close to home for us, we’re not signed on officially but we’re working with a close friend on that, it’s for teen suicide prevention and we’re really excited to do that and more types of similar things.
That’s fantastic. Good luck with all of those projects!
Matt: Thanks so much.
The Voice will make its return tonight at 8PM on NBC. This season’s coaches will include Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, and Pharell Williams. As always, the show will be hosted by Carson Daly.