Brian Johnson is making Cleveland proud with his run on The Voice as part of Team Blake. Johnson’s Battle Rounds performance with Joshua Davis on Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door is one of this season’s highlights, and hopefully he’ll bring that same level of inspiration for the Knockouts.
My interview with Johnson (his Twitter handle is @), who’s blessed with a strong and emotive vocal style, is below, and the full audio version of the conversation is located at the end of this post. In the chat, he talks about music lessons he’s learned from Blake Shelton and Meghan Trainor, and he also talks about what type of album he’d love to release down the road.
How has your experience been on The Voice thus far?
For me, it’s been such a wild ride and things didn’t feel real. I kept telling a bunch of my friends that were asking how it felt (and) I kept coming up with the same response of “it feels like I’m excited and ecstatic but it feels like I’m excited for someone else.” I have to keep pinching myself and they have to keep reminding me that “no, that’s you – that’s your voice that’s on Team Blake.” It’s been completely surreal.
Your battle round with Joshua Davis really meshed with Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.
Joshua Davis is such a good guy and we were actually roommates at the hotel we stayed in. Before we found out we were battling each other, we were friends so I think that helps with just really meshing together and making some good music.
I learned a lot from him and he learned from me. We said from the very beginning that we were going to shoot for one of us to win and for one of us to get stolen. And we didn’t care who that was going to happen to. We worked really hard and it worked out in our favor.
You put your music career on the back burner to take care of your dad and you also have a supportive wife. Was it a special moment for you during the Blind Auditions to come out with the inspired tune Reason To Believe?
Yeah, you know what it’s very interesting because that song has so much soul to it and there’s a lot of history with that song with being covered by so many artists. For me, I really wanted to be able to show the coaches and America – whoever else was listening – that this is who I am as an artist. I like to add some soul and some meaning and emotion behind a song. That’s why I decided to do with “Reason To Believe.”
My wife and my dad are so supportive. And my mom. They’re all supportive of me and they loved this song before I picked it on the show. It kind of secured it in my mind that was the song for my Blind Audition.
What did you learn from Meghan Trainor?
One of the biggest things I learned from Meghan was she really helped me hone in on the emotion of the lyric that you’re singing. I think that showed a lot when she started crying after hearing Joshua and I sing. We really focused on the emotion of the song.
You’ve got to be able to put yourself in that mindset of really connecting with the lyric of the song. Meghan has been a writer for years aside from All About That Bass and Lips Are Movin. Just to be able to gain some info into the music industry from her was incredible.
And having Blake Shelton as a coach must be a huge education as well.
Blake has been awesome. And the one thing I’ve said is it’s hard to be starstruck around him because he’s just one of those guys that when you walk into the room he doesn’t come off like he’s better than you or anything like that. He’s just so incredible to work with.
He’s just the kind of guy you just want to sit down and talk to. He’s that uncle who drinks a lot (laughs) that you can really have fun with. He’s also been so awesome when it comes to music. He was the one who came up with the idea to just have Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door on piano and acoustic guitar, which really helped with the simple aspect of that song.
What has it been like getting all that positive feedback on The Voice?
I’ve been blown away by the response I’ve received from a lot of fans of The Voice. One of the big things about my time on The Voice is sharing my story of being bullied when I was in middle school and high school. And I’ve been overwhelmed by the response I’ve received from people who have heard my story and they connect with me through that.
Or even the aspect of my dad having multiple sclerosis. I didn’t actually know this before the show aired but the week that my Blind Audition aired was actually National MS Awareness week. I didn’t know about it until afterwards. It was such a blessing to shine a light on multiple sclerosis and how it’s affected my family. Just bring some awareness to that disease.
Are you getting a taste of what The Voice family is like?
That’s actually been one of the best parts of this process. Meeting the other contestants. If nothing else I’ve gained some really good friends.
It’s funny because just out of the first couple of rounds I’ve had people ask me to open up for their shows in different states. Doors are just flying open. It really is a family.
Moving into the knockout rounds, what can we expect?
Well the next round is kind of similar to the Battle Rounds where we get paired up with another contestant from our team. The cool thing about this round is we get to pick our songs. I picked a song that really showcases who I am as an artist by an artist that I would see myself working with in the music industry and it’s my opportunity to show the coaches and America who I really am as an artist and I hope that people really see that when I sing it.
When you cut your album, what kind of genre would you like it to be?
I’d really love to do a pop gospel album. Something along the line where Adele sits or Sam Smith. Something along those lines with real focus on the vocal and the lyrics. Not so much focused on huge productions and things like that but really focusing on voice and songwriting.
How has your experience been in Los Angeles?
Oh my gosh, it’s been such a blast. I love Cleveland – I love my hometown but it was so cold back home. Being in Los Angeles has been so awesome – the weather’s perfect.
Just being in this town, I’ve run into so many interesting people. I ran into Eminem at a Subway once. So it just kind of dawned on me that I was not in Cleveland anymore. So it was crazy.
Thank you so much for your time and good luck moving forward with Team Blake.
Thanks so much Greg. Have a great day.