As seen on The Voice (US)
added: 28 Jun 2012
With a little help from his friends
interviewed by: Jennifer Palmer-Violet
Controversially kicked off The Voice in America, Broadway star Tony Vincent is not ditching his goal of being a successful artist in his own right – and his fans have pledged their allegiance. Music-News.com gets the lowdown from New York
Although Tony Vincent has spent much of his career in the theatre, he has landed Broadway and West End roles most aspiring rock stars could only dream of. Green Day asked him to be the original St Jimmy in their musical, American Idiot – a role he shared with Billie Joe Armstrong – and he was handpicked by Brian May to launch the lead role of Galileo in We Will Rock You. Tony has been lucky to perform with both bands beyond their shows, notably at the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002 when he fronted Queen before an international TV audience of 30 million. “It was the fastest seven minutes of my life!” he laughs. “I don’t think any artist in the theatre world would ever expect something like that to happen.”
When you’ve worked with some of the biggest names in rock, it’s no surprise you want a piece of it yourself, but Albuquerque-born Tony knew what he wanted age four when he heard A Hard Day’s Night. Starting out as a recording artist, with some radio success, he relocated to New York in 1997 to pursue a deal. “After you see iconic frontmen like Mick Jagger and David Bowie, you totally want to be a rock star,” he admits. Tony ended up in musical theatre, which took him to London and back to the US, but he kept his appetite for solo success. After 14 years of playing characters in rock-focused shows, he wanted the real thing. “It was time for me to make a stand for who I was as an artist,” he says.
Tony already had experience of two major label deals but things are different in 2012. “The industry itself has changed in so many ways over the past 10 years that everyone in the business is left scrambling and trying to make sense out of the nonsense,” he says. Recognising that television has become a very important vehicle for artists, he bit the reality TV bullet. “The Voice seemed to be the wild card that could enable me to take a stand and return to being an artist: a singer/songwriter, a ‘rock star’ for lack of a better expression,” he says. “I wanted the public to see that I could own the stage unapologetically. That, and the fact that The Voice is very specific on vocal talent, I felt this was an opportunity that I would be foolish to pass up.”
Reality bites back, though. “I was fortunate enough to be with a coach that understood me and ‘got me’,” Tony says about mentor Cee Lo Green, yet the overall process was not quite what he hoped for. The NBC programme may been driven by a passionate team set on finding genuine talent – “I think that is very, very special in light of all the reality television that’s currently out,” he says – but he was expecting to be more hands-on. “NBC is a massive network and any show needs to attract as many viewers as possible. That, unfortunately, means they need to play it ‘safe’, much safer than what I would have liked to do,” he laments. “I felt very confined in most of the material that I was given to perform.”
Arguably, the biggest surprise was his exit from the talent show. With Cee Lo Green letting his heart rule his head in an elimination round, Tony was out after a stunning version of Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams. “I wasn’t in that ‘red chair’,” he reflects, “but I think he [Green] made a mistake. Our hearts, and what are really emotions, can be very deceiving. If you take a step back and make a move based on logic, I believe you make a smarter, bigger-impacting decision.” It was disappointing for Tony, who really bonded with Cee Lo, forming more of an equal relationship, one he believed the network didn't approve of. “I do, however, still have the upmost respect for ‘Lo’,” he says. “I feel that our time of working together has just begun.”
With The Voice door closed another has opened. Tony has returned to recording material he wants to perform, marked with the release of a free download, Starting Over, to thank those who had supported him. “The song is quite in-your-face and is basically a testimony of me returning to the reason I moved to New York in the first place,” he says. Now he’s working on an EP with a little help from some very important people. “I truly believe that I have the greatest group of fans and supporters any artist could wish for,” he says, explaining how he’s hooked up with the PledgeMusic fundraising initiative, where fans can contribute to his next release. “It gives them a chance to actually have ownership in the creation, to have a view from the inside as the record is fleshed out. I think it’s really quite special.”
And it's another beginning at home as Tony became a first-time dad to a daughter, Sadie, a couple of months ago. “I’d be smart to be a participant in her upbringing now or I will miss out on a lot of very special moments with her,” he says. But it hasn't changed his commitment to music. “In fact, it’s probably strengthened it.” Tony's really excited about his EP and says it is “sounding amazing”. “I think it’s some of the best material I’ve written to date. Also, I think it’s a great representation of how I’ve grown as a songwriter from the last record I put out,” he says. “The goal at the moment is to get this music heard by as many people as possible – the rest will follow.”
Perhaps Tony Vincent is set to be one of those talent show finalists who have the last laugh – look at American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert! What does winning really mean anyway? “I went on The Voice to get as much ‘face time’ as I possibly could,” says Tony. “I wanted the public to know who I was as an artist – before I knew I would have my hands tied to material I wasn’t on board with. My thinking has always been that you only ‘win’ if you do something worth remembering. I believe that my final performance of Sweet Dreams definitely did that.”Watch Tony Vincent’s ‘swansong’ on The Voice hereKeep updated on his EP here
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