Sundance Head – The Voice
Q) I was wondering if there are any songs in particular that you would have loved to have covered during the show that you didn’t get to and what that would be?
Sundance Head: I wanted to cover “Georgia on My Mind” and I had been asking if I could do it for about three weeks leading up to the finale. And I was just never able to do it but it’s one of my favorite songs of all time. And I really wanted to have the opportunity to do it on the show.
Q) So what’s the best piece of advice that Blake gave you that you took to heart while you were on the series and that you’ll carry with you?
Sundance Head: For me it was just to believe in my own abilities and my own talent and trust what got me on to the show to begin with. And to also take each song and try to connect with an audience and to try to, you know, connect with the lyric as much as possible when covering a song. And I tried to do that the whole time.
Q) Hey I watched your post show interview from Tuesday night. And you talked again about how you felt like you were able to handle The Voice better than American Idol because you were older and more mature at this point. I was wondering if you could be a little bit more specific and point to a couple of specific situations that you thought you handled better on The Voice then you might have if it was American Idol nine years ago?
Sundance Head: Well first of all I didn’t really have an identity as an artist even to myself. So that was the first major problem with the whole thing. And secondly I didn’t realize how important it was to pick a genre of music or a style of music and really to try to target a fan base and try to continually target that fan base. On Idol I was all over the place. And really none of it was any good. And I took a lot of lessons. I learned from that and tried to apply them to my life going forward. So that’s – those are two of them. I mean the list for me we could talk about that all night long and it’d be a very lengthy interview. Maybe one of these days we can get into that but there’s just so many things I did wrong on that show. As a person I wasn’t a very good person to begin with so I was selfish about a lot of things. You know, I’ve said before if I could meet myself again I’d probably punch myself in the mouth. So not a very good dude, you know? But thankfully I’ve had a reprisal and I get a second shot and hopefully I can do things right this time.
Q) So kind of looking back kind of each going each week was there ever a week where you thought you might be going home?
Sundance Head: Well I didn’t feel like I had a very strong performance on “Blue Ain’t Your Color” to be honest with you. Whenever I went out to perform that song my guitar was out of key in the beginning. So I wasn’t sure what key I needed to start in. And if you listen back to the actual performance you can hear that something is wrong in the beginning. Luckily for me (Paul) the bandleader bailed me out of there and gave me the right note on his piano when he wasn’t even supposed to be playing. But they’re such professionals and I’m sure it’s happened before he immediately recognized what was going on and bailed me out. But it certainly was embarrassing for me and a moment that I would never like to have to go through again. And what I did also learn the most important part of that lesson for me was when a show has a guitar tech and they bring you your guitar and you’re going to go on stage it’s in tune. You don’t have to check it to make sure it’s in tune. And that was my mistake. I wanted to make sure it was in tune so I tried to double check it. And Jason Warrior was absolutely killing everybody in there on stage. So my tuner wouldn’t pick up anything and I had already detoured. And so I was just completely a mess. So that was the week I thought that was it for me really.
Q) I was wondering first how did you feel when they told you, you were going to be singing with Kiss? And then what was it like to actually take the stage with them?
Sundance Head: Well when they told me I couldn’t – I really was blown away that they agreed to do it and even the fact that I was going to have the opportunity really was amazing. My brother took me to see them before he died a month before. And I rode his shoulders for the whole concert so I’ve always had a really strong emotional bond with Kiss, their music and so I couldn’t believe it. And then when we ran through rehearsals I was missing everything up. I just – I didn’t know – I was dropping lyrics. And I know all of their songs and every lyric to it. I mean I could be the lead singer if I had to. But when the minute when we were standing there I just was I was so amazed that it was actually happening I didn’t really know where I was. The rehearsal was like one of the most intense things that ever happened to me. It was like the first time I had ever been alone with a girl in a bedroom as a teenager I really just had no idea what to do and I was just so overthrown with emotions and it just was such a wreck. Luckily Paul and Gene were such sweet guys that they really talked to me and tried to calm me down and tell me hey man, you know, we’re just dudes like you man. And it’s our honor to be up here with you. Just relax and, you know, take it easy. And so I was able to take their advice when the real performance went down. And still I even got choked up a little bit didn’t know if I was going to be able to actually sing because I was actually crying. But I don’t think anybody could see that. But as soon as – I was standing underneath the drum riser before the when the intro started when they kicked in to Detroit Rock City I felt the risers moving. And the moment was so huge for me that I just for a second thought I can’t even – I can’t possibly go out there. But I knew I absolutely had to so I did it somehow. But that besides marrying my wife and having three children that’s probably the fifth most important thing that’s ever happened to me in my entire life even more important than winning The Voice I think was just having an opportunity to play with kiss on stage as ridiculous as that sounds that’s how much it meant to me. And I know that’s an experience that no matter what happens if I go on to actually be famous or I don’t do anything else for the rest of my life that’s a moment in my life that I will never be able to have again. And I know that. And it’s – it was such a thrill. And I’m just so thankful to NBC The Voice that they allowed me that opportunity and I’m so thankful that Kiss would agree to do that.
Q) So when you compare the success you found on American Idol versus The Voice it sounds like you took The Voice more seriously most likely due to personal growth and, you know, more determination since you have a family and everything. But how would you compare your talent then and now? Like do you believe your voice has truly gotten better as well as your performance ability and everything that goes along with it?
Sundance Head: Everything about me is better. I think as an artist right now as a singer, songwriter and performer I’m probably at 50% of what I can be. And I think when I was on that show I was probably at 5% maybe, maybe not even that good. Really I don’t even know how I ended up on that show. I tried out for that show just on a whim. And really I had no talent. I mean I really didn’t know any songs. I couldn’t really play guitar. I didn’t know myself as a human being much less as an artist and I hadn’t discovered my vocal abilities. I learned how to sing the way I sing now up until probably about a year and a half to two years ago when I noticed that I could really soar on notes vocally and go kind of into operatic vibrato and sustain on notes during chorus’s and things which I had never noticed before. And it just kind of happened. I’m not even sure how. But once I realized that then that’s when I started to write songs around the ability that I had discovered and also, you know, use it in my daily operations making a living back in Texas playing music. So I just tried to make it better and better and better every opportunity that I had. And I know that it’s going to get a lot better still. And I’m very excited about, you know, having that opportunity to grow as an artist and a vocalist with a label the presumably will be behind me helping me discover even more talents that I don’t know about. So I mean yes it’s not even really a comparison. The experiences were so much better. I was so much more prepared as a person. I knew exactly what I wanted to do going into this. Exactly what kind of strategy I had which was to sing. I was going to try to cover as many female songs as I could that were females that I thought were super wonderful singers with great songs. And I tried to stick to that strategy as much as possible and it did pay off for me. And I had no plan whatsoever going into American Idol at all. And so I also was very ill-prepared for the record deal that I received from Jolene Cherry Universal. And the record label seemed to collapse rate around that time 2010 whenever the Internet and everything was really taking off. And so they really only kept the artists that were selling a lot of records for them and everyone else kind of got cut out. And I held – I used to hold a lot of resentment about that whole deal towards Jolene and Universal. But now I realize that probably most of the problem that was with that contract lied within me and my immaturity as not only human being but as an artist. And I’m just really thankful that I may have the opportunity soon or even possibly one day to do hug Jolene Cherry and personally thank you for the opportunity that she gave me and to let her know that I understand now that it was absolutely me that screwed that whole thing up and not them at all which is ironic.
Q) My favorite moment of the final performance on Monday was the duet you did with Blake of your dad’s song. And I read that, that was a complete surprise to your dad that he had no idea you were going to do that.
Sundance Head: That is true. I wanted to surprise him. I mean he had caught wind of something because he was kind of poking around. He was asking what’s going on and other stuff. And so he knew something was up but he didn’t know really what was going to go down. And I was just so thankful that Blake would allow me to do that. I mean he wanted to do a duet song. They didn’t know what song that we wanted to do together. They pitched a couple of songs to me. I had emailed Blake and said hey buddy what do you think about doing “Treat Her Right” my dad’s song on the show as a duet? And without fail I mean he emailed right back his reply was let’s do it. And I was just so excited to have the opportunity to bring my dad joy on a national stage like that because I mean he’s been doing music his whole life. And that’s all he’s done is bring happiness to people and joy through music. And I know for me personally he’s been such a wonderful father and he’s given me so many talents and told me so many things it’s like having a mentor every day that you can ask questions to and live with. And I know that I’ve been so blessed to have that opportunity. And I just was so thrilled to be able to bring him a little excitement.
Q) It must have been gratifying to bring that song back to a huge audience some of which may have never heard the song before and they were reintroduced to it?
Sundance Head: Yes. I was really gratified about that. And I mean I still think that’s one of the greatest songs ever. It’s just a simple tune but it’s got so much rock ‘n roll in it and so much attitude and the “hey heys” in the chorus and the screaming he did in the song. And to me it was just one of the most iconic songs from the 60s I think of course I have a biased opinion obviously. I have him to think for a lot of the talents that I have. He was much older than all of the other parents whenever I was growing up and he had been through a lot more. And so he was always the cool dad. You know, and he would treat me and my friends with a lot of respect like we were just his buddies. And he introduced us to a lot of music that we probably would have never even heard there were, you know, maybe outdated for our generation or something of that nature. But really we were fortunate to have him in our life to show us the records that he had and to spend the time to talk about what he liked about certain artists and why he thought their music was popular. And I certainly remember all of those conversations and try to use them every day when I have the opportunity.
Q) So I know you were on Blake’s team the whole time but you must have some observations you noticed with other teams. And I want to know what have you observed that what’s different about Blake’s coaching style that’s so successful?
Sundance Head: I can’t really speak on behalf of past coaching experiences. But what I can tell you from what I noticed was for me at some point he realized that I had a direction and a sound and an arrangement style that I was looking for. And he allowed me to pursue it with the band with (Paul) and the guys. And I think that’s when I really started to ascend on the show as far as the performances, and the song choices and the song arrangements are concerned. And I could tell that it was making an immediate difference. I really don’t know about the coaching styles of the other coaches because I didn’t experience that. I know that there’s a lot of things I did see that I really admired from the new female coaches. I really don’t know much about Adam’s coaching style but I do know that Alicia and Miley both were very engaged in rehearsals also wardrobe. They were very, very personable with the artists that were on their team. And they treated them with tons of respect. And they really, really wanted to be involved in everyday operations with their team. And that to me I thought was outstanding from just an outsider view. I can’t, you know, I really wish I could answer that question a 100%. I just really don’t have anything that I could really comment on regarding their coaching style because I didn’t personally receive anything from them. I can tell you that Alicia Keys gave me a ton of confidence whenever she gave me the nod on her song “No One.” And when she received my arrangement it really made me feel really wonderful and I really could tell that we connected during that short amount of time on that stage. And I also feel the same thing happened between Miley and I when I covered her song. I think that she really enjoyed hearing it a different way from someone else. And I know personally as a songwriter that it’s always flattering to hear someone cover your music as long as they do it well. And so I knew how important it was for me to go out there and have really good performances on both of those songs. So it was an extremely huge challenge for me and a thrill and something that I really looked forward to and helped me to grow as an artist on the show.
Q) And I know with Blake he has won the most. So is there anything that you can pinpoint like that he has been so, you know, done so well with so many people?
Sundance Head: Well I think Blake is just a badass. He’s very sweet. He’s a very genuine guy. He makes you feel really comfortable. I’m not sure how much of it he influenced me that I didn’t even realize it just because he’s so casual with his delivery and his suggestions. So I think Blake’s really sneaky. I mean he may make it look like, you know, I was out there doing all of the heavy lifting but it was probably his idea all along. And the only one who knows that is probably Blake Shelton.
Q) Since American Idol you’ve evolved a lot as an artist. But when it came to actually winning The Voice do you think that the song made all of the difference because, you know, it was your dad’s song? And also did you feel like you did it justice during that performance?
Sundance Head: I think that I did have a lot of momentum going into the last episode especially the finale. For me I felt like everything was lining up the way that it should have been. It was the right time for me. I had been – I was being rewarded from the world. And I had been putting a lot into everything that had led up to that day. And I really felt like my hard work was finally paying off. The song choices that they gave me and, you know, from playing my dad’s song, to being able to play with Kiss, to singing “At Last” for my finale song, and to be able to sing my original song “Darlin’ Don’t Go” which I wrote by myself for the love of my life it just felt like it was just too perfect. I mean I thought it had to be going the right direction but you still have to tell yourself there’s a possibility that maybe you won’t win. So I just tried to keep it at an even keel and not really get to sure of anything really. So – but I certainly could feel an energy that I hadn’t felt before. And I could tell that people around me were feeling that energy because the other contestants were making comments about certain things, and people were predicting me to win all of a sudden and there was just a huge change in everything. And I really do owe it most of it to the finale performance. But I had told myself if there was any – if I had any shot and if there was any way that I was going to come down to the wire on the show I was going to do everything that I could do to make sure that when I left the stage and I walked off from The Voice that I did not have a single regret.
Q) And does it mean that deep down you did have a gut feeling that told you I might be able to win this?
Sundance Head: I did. I actually – it was actually the day of the results show when I thought I might win. And I got extremely scared and come to the realization that maybe I would win. And I was completely unprepared for winning because I have thought that Wé and Billy were going to win. They – on social media they had thousands and thousands of more people that were following them, and tagging them and that – and liked their pages and things. And I had hinged most of the – this on that aspect of the media. Of course I was completely wrong. And I seemed to be wrong about a lot of things mostly by the sometimes I get things right. And I could tell that the songs that we chose were the right songs. And I really felt like if I couldn’t win after the performance I gave Monday then I just can’t win period because I know that there was nothing I could have done any better than what I did on Monday ever. And I felt real good about that. And I prayed to the Lord. And I just told him, you know, whatever path you lay for me is the path I’m going to take. I’m not even going to question it. If I win I win if I don’t win I don’t win. I’ll just have to, you know, just continue to try to grow as an artist, a father, and a husband and a human and just try to get better and to have more positive things happen to me. And I’ve also realized that if you have positive thoughts and you walk in a positive line of thought throughout your day a lot of positive things happen just from thinking that way. It’s just funny how you can just think that positive things are going to happen and have really positive thoughts all day and then you’ll find at the end of the day that a lot of times just your train of thought determines the outcome of a lot of the small moments in your daily activity that you may not realize. And that’s one of the things that I realized over the summer that I’m going to carry with me for the rest of my life and try to apply every day. And I’m really thankful that I was able to see that.
Q) I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about song choice. Were most of the songs that you wound up singing your idea, or where the songs you were given were there any you were a little bit skeptical of? Just talk a little bit about that if you would?
Sundance Head: Sure, most of the time they were my ideas. I can tell you that “Me and Jesus” was Blake’s idea. He said hey guy – well the song per se wasn’t but his idea to do a gospel song was totally his idea. He said Sundance I think right now is a good time for us to do a gospel song. I think people want to hear one right now. There’s a lot going on in America right now and people are divided. And they don’t really I think even know why anymore. And I think we just need to bring it back around and try to really have a positive message about love, and unity and, you know, faith. And so I immediately said well that’s a great idea. And the original song that we were going to do was a different song let me see here when Jesus – oh “Oh Happy Day” was actually the one we were going to do first. But the song only had a verse and a chorus and it would just repeat and repeat and repeat. So I told Blake I said man I’m not sure that that’s the right one. So we ended up going with “ No One” by Alicia Keys that week which was the backup song for me. That’s the one I wanted to do but Blake wanted to do the gospel. So we were going to do “Oh Happy Day” but it didn’t work out because the arrangement just – there wasn’t enough stuff going on. It was too simple. So we ended up doing “No One” by Alicia Keys. And that song really changed everything for me. So then the very next week we went in to revisit the gospel theme. And we agreed to do “ Me and Jesus.” I took it to my room and I immediately heard a bluegrass barnburner revival type of arrangement on it. I recorded it, emailed it over to him said what do you think? And he goes man I think it’s great. We got with the band. We went over it. They equally liked it. And then, you know, the rest is history. I told Blake from then on I said I know what we’re going to do man. Every song that we have from now on till the end of time – till the end of the show as long as I’m on it we’re going to go out and we’re going to sing songs that have positive messages about unity, love, respect, you know, anything that has to do with just really good vibes. And so I knew immediately what kind of ride we were going to take. And so that – so it really changed everything for us I think. And it was a message that kind of stumbled upon us by accident but we immediately recognized it. And he as a coach immediately saw the demographic and knew that, that may be the demographic that we could win. Of course middle America probably votes the most, you know, because East Coast is busy and West Coast is late. I mean that’s a no-brainer really. So that’s just one of those things that Blake knew. He just knew that. And his intuitions were right. And that’s one of the reasons why he’s the most winning coach of The Voice. I really felt like just the Holy Ghost on that song man. I mean I joked about that. I wanted to have a religious mosh pit but I felt like I was fired up man. I mean I was really fired up. I was shaking a little bit. I really felt moved during the performance.
Q) Sundance so you mentioned a little bit ago about your original song and how personal it is to you. Had you written that before The Voice or did you write that while you’re on the show?
Sundance Head: No. I wrote that before The Voice. That song is on the record we just released earlier this summer before I went on the show. It’s from the record titled Soul Country which was going to be our breakout record to the Texas music scene. And it was. We were nominated for song of the year with “Darlin’ Don’t Go.” And I got nominated for New Male Vocalist and New Entertainer of the Year. I guess I couldn’t go to the music awards and I couldn’t really promote it so – because I was on the show. So I just kind of let things just kind of slide by but I was just thrilled that it was recognized by the people back in Texas that I admired and that I was working so hard to get their attention. But there’s a couple of songs on that Soul Country record that I wrote for Misty. One of them is a single that I had out now back in Texas called “13 years” which was about our wedding anniversary. And this – she’s such an inspiration to me. And she’s – I can’t say it enough. I mean she really is everything to me. And any success that I have people need to understand that I’m really probably not even part of it. It’s mostly just because she believed to me that much that she pressed me and gave me the strength that it takes to go out and do it. And I mean I can tell you one thing if Misty could sing she would have already taken over the world. I can promise you that. That’s the kind of ambition that she has. Sometimes I wonder why she even, you know, married me to begin with really so I’m just thankful that’s all.
Q) What’s it’s been like to see, you know, various songs that you’ve covered on the show to see them do so well on the iTunes chart?
Sundance Head: Well that’s really what it’s all about man. I just want to have the opportunity to have people hear me create, do music make art. And I really pride myself on being able to take someone else’s song and make it my own. And that’s something that I’ve been doing now for a couple of years in our live shows. If you come and see my band and we play live usually I play mostly covers and then I’ll throw, you know, 20% of I mean mostly originals and I’ll put 20% of covers in there. And a lot of times people don’t even realize that what’s going on they don’t know the difference because it all sounds like Sundance Head. And that’s really important to me. It’s something that I believe really distinguishes me from the other contestants. I know exactly what I sound like, what I want to sound like, what I’m good at what makes me sound the best. And for me I’m just lucky that I’ve been able to recognize that recently. And so it’s important for me to find out what those virtues are and exploit them on the stage whenever I have that opportunity and everything’s really coming together for me at the right time. And it should. And that’s the way things work out. I mean I’ve tried to force myself along – for a lot of times I’ve tried to force everything. I’ve demanded people listen to me. I mean how can you believe it, you know, why this happened? Why won’t these people get behind me? Why won’t this promotion company help me? And once I let all of that go and just started to make music again for my own pure enjoyment and just for my own soul that’s when I began to notice everything was changing for me in a positive manner. And I just hope that I can continue to recognize those things whenever they appear to me going forward.
Q) Wat was your favorite performance from a contestant on another team?
Sundance Head: Oh man that’s easy. Man that has to be Wé on the finale when she did that Broadway tune. I just really I thought – I saw her do that in rehearsal “Don’t Rain on My Parade” I believe is the name of it. When I seen that in rehearsal I mean I’ve got to tell you I’ve never seen anything like that. And she’s only 16 or 17 years old. I could tell you right now I was completely blown away. And she’s going to be famous. You guys if there’s anything that we’re getting from this interview today please make sure that you guys remember when I tell you that Wé McDonald is going to be famous. And that’s the bottom line. Her talent I mean just to be able to remember those lyrics I mean it was like three or four pages of lyrics. There was seven different tempo changes in that song. She delivered it like a master. Like she had been doing it for 20 or 30 years, it was effortless to her. And you can see the love for music on her face. I mean she sang through her teeth while she was smiling. It’s like she’s a freaking seasoned pro, you know, she’s a killer. And that’s why really thought that she was going to beat me. I would have not felt sad one minute. She definitely deserves to be in the limelight and she will be no doubt about it.
Q) And not to put you on the spot but okay so you performed songs by the other coaches Miley and Alicia but if you were to have done an Adam Levine song do you know what kind of – or what song you would have done?
Sundance Head: Well, I don’t know man. Adam songs are very poppy. Maroon 5 to me it’s, you know, I think when I hear him sing a lot man I don’t know if other people relate to this like I do but I really hear like Michael Jackson. I mean I’m not sure why but I just do, his phrasing, his tone, his delivery the way you can kick so much ass in the falsetto. And I have considered doing a couple of different songs but I thought really that, that was dangerous territory for me because his voice is – it’s – his voice is so absolutely unique I didn’t really want to even take a chance to go that direction.
Q) It looked like that you and Blake had a pretty good relationship. I was just wondering what your favorite moment with Blake was?
Sundance Head: Well I had many favorite moments with Blake and most of them were off camera and probably the conversations were very candid. So I mean he’s a really sweet guy. He’s a very big time joker. He tells a lot of bad dirty jokes that really aren’t funny. He – his sense of humor is just – very different. A lot of times he says things just to make himself laugh I think. I really do. Like I’m sure Blake could just make himself laugh all day if he was alone somewhere by just speaking to himself in the mirror. I mean that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s a very, very, very sweet dude very laid-back guy. I would probably say my favorite absolute favorite moment probably for me is whenever he came to my side up there during that press conference at the end and was asking the record label to absolutely do what they could to make sure that they held up their end of the bargain. I thought that was very admirable. That’s something that he certainly didn’t need to do. And it just reaffirmed everything that I had believed all along which is this guy is a badass. He deserves to be peoples champion because he is the people’s champion. And I mean for me and nothing against the other coaches and they’re all very nice but I think Blake is pretty much the whole show. I mean everything hinges around him and just what a cool guy he is man and how likable that he is. And it’s just – it’s very entertaining to me to look at him when he does these skits and does all these things to make him not necessarily come off as the smartest guy all of the time which he absolutely is the smartest guy all of the time. In fact it’s all of us that’s getting played mostly you know? But he’s got it figured out man. He’s just a great character and he knows that. And he knows when to turn it on and went to turn it off. And I’ve just been I think really I’m just really proud that I was able to build a relationship with Blake that I know that we’re going to have, you know, throughout this whole thing and probably for the rest of my life. After I won we had a press conference I was whisked off with my family and Blake went his direction. And that could have very well been the end of everything. I may have never spoken to him again. But Blake texted me later that night and said hey Sundance here’s my phone number, store me on your phone make sure you call me if there’s anything you ever need. And just to let you know man that’s the kind of guy the Blake is every day. And I’m sure I’m not the only person that feels like he’s reached out to me both as a mentor but also as a friend.