This last week I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Austin Jones, a Chicago-based singer/songwriter, before his La Crosse show just as he was about to close out his 2016 Pitch Imperfect Tour.
Austin has been making music since 2010 and has gained a strong following with the wide range of music he puts out. He does things from covers of bands like Panic At The Disco and 5 Seconds of Summer, to acapella versions of songs by bands like Pierce The Veil and My Chemical Romance, and writing and producing his own original songs as well.
Austin was nice enough to sit down and talk with me about his love of food, music, and what advice he has for new musicians. Read more below!
1. Which instruments do you play? What was the first one you learned?
A.J.: Well, for the live shows I only focus on singing, so I only do vocals on stage. But I know how to play piano and I know how to play drums. The first instrument I learned to play was piano, I took lessons when I was really really young but I stopped. I only took lessons for like 2 years, I didn't get very far in it. And drums I kind of self-taught myself.
2. What's your favorite food? Besides fettuccine alfredo?
A.J.: My love for fettuccine alfredo is not a secret, but I eat cheeseburgers very frequently.
3. Do you get nervous before a performance? What do you do to help the nerves?
A.J.: I get nervous before every single performance, which I know might sound weird because I've been performing for a while and it doesn't matter what the size of the crowd is, it could be really big or really small, either way, I'm still nervous. I get nervous, but sometimes the crowd is very loud or really into it and it's really distracting. It kind of takes me out of being nervous and it puts me in the moment so I can just perform. Sometimes I just perform to the room instead of individual people, not looking them in the eye. Also just performing for myself, having fun with it, it helps strike me from being nervous.
4. What advice would you give to beginners who want to pursue music?
A.J.: I would say practice, a ton. Figure out what you're good at, what you're passionate about. I started out doing music in 2010, and nobody really starting caring until like the end of 2013 start of 2014. So for the first 3 to 4 years, nobody really cared about my music. I was making like super electronic pop music and it wasn't emotional and it wasn't what I was feeling. A lot of it was fake in a way and nothing really clicked till I started writing what came naturally. So I would say figuring out what you're good and what you want to do, because if you try to do something you don't want to do or try to force something chances are you'll be less successful at it. Also, constantly reinventing yourself in a way, like recently I just started doing acapella covers and they have become very very popular, very very quickly. So it's finding a way to keep people interested and keep surprising people.
5. How do you balance your music with other obligations like time family and friends?
A.J.: I live at home with my mom and step-dad, so when I'm not on tour I see them constantly. We're in the same house so I have family time every day, whether it's taking a break to eat or sitting down to watch a movie with them, I'm always spending time with them. So family time comes easy because I live with them. And for friends, all the close friends I have, are the people I do music with. So I hang out with them a lot but mostly we just focus on the music. I know it's crazy to say but I focus pretty much all of my time on music.
6. Are you working on anything new right now?
A.J.: Yes, as soon as this tour is done I've got a lot of plans. But first and foremost it's definitely a new full-length original album. It's been a while since I've written some original music and I've got plenty of ideas. We already have one entire song written that we actually have been playing on this tour. So it's definitely a new original album, I've got some cool covers in mind. Just tons of new music in the works, I've got so many ideas, so many things written that I want to get out there.
7. What has been your favorite part of your tour this far?
A.J.: Going to some of the new areas and seeing that there is actually a good amount of fans out there and seeing them get so excited. Like Vermont, we've never been there but we played a show there and it was great, the fans awesome. Another example is we went to Spokane Washington and we had never been there before and there were a lot of fans there and they were really excited. It's just been really cool to go to different areas and see new fans and people still being excited.
8. What's your favorite thing about your fans?
A.J.: My favorite thing about my fans is how caring they are. If I'm going through a hard time I always get a lot of tweets or messages with really encouraging and supporting words. I love how supportive they are and how they're here for me, they keep me going through tough times.
9. Who is your biggest role model in life? What about a musical role model?
A.J.: My biggest role model in life is definitely my mom, she's been through a lot and she is still such a nice and caring woman and I love her very very much. Then in music, like my first inspiration in music was a man by the name of Jordan Witzigreuter, which is The Ready Set. The Ready Set was my first influence and I would probably go with him, he's a really nice guy, hard worker, he puts out great music.
10. How difficult is it for you to be self-produced?
A.J.: Well I'm not with a record label so I record and produce all my own music. I do all of my own video work, I do the majority of my artwork so I definitely play a part in like 90% of my music. It's very difficult, and really challenging because it's so time-consuming, whereas some artists can just focus on writing songs and don't have to do anything else. I have to focus on doing a lot more than just that, but I like it, it's fun. It's a way to keep me in control and make sure everything is going the way I want it to.
11. What's your favorite thing/activity when you're not on tour?
A.J.: Honestly I just love sitting on my couch, eating food, and watching TV. I don't really get much relaxation time so I just love food, and watching TV for a while. It sounds like a really lame activity but honestly, I just love doing that.
12. What's your go-to restaurant?
A.J.: My go-to restaurant... currently is Chili's. I also like Olive Garden. My go to if I had a lot more money would be something like The Melting Pot, I love The Melting Pot, fondue is really good. Sadly I am not rich so I cannot eat there all the time.
13. If there was a film made about you who would you want to play you?
A.J.: He doesn't really look like this anymore, and he's definitely way too buff to play me now because he doesn't look like me at all. But, years ago, like "High School Musical" version of Zac Efron. That would be who I'd want to play me, but now he's super buff and his hair is darker and shorter. If he just grew up and wasn't as buff and the blonde hair that's who I would want to play me. I know that's unrealistic, that man is a God. But I'm going to stick with that.
14. If you won the lottery what's the first thing you'd do with the money?
A.J.: First thing I'm going to do with the money is, give a lot of it to my mom. So she can pay off any debt she has and I'd put her up in like her dream house. I'd do anything I possibly could to make my mom live comfortably. After that, I would disburse it among my family and friends, then hopefully keep a portion for myself.
15. Have you enjoyed your time in La Crosse? Do you think you'll come back?
A.J.: Absolutely, this is our second time here and we really like it here so we're for sure coming back.
Links to all of Austin's social media: