We chat with high tenor vocalist Austin Brown, one of the five members of the Columbia Records-signed band Home Free, a country music band that’s a bit different in that they’re an a cappella band. They create all the sounds of a traditional country band but do so with their voices. The other four members of Home Free include bass vocalist Tim Foust, tenor vocalist Rob Lundquist, vocal percussionist/beatboxer Adam Rupp and baritone vocalist Chris Rupp. The band won The Sing Off’’s fourth season and have since released the successful albums Crazy Life and Full of Cheer, the latter one a festive holiday release which has sold over 150,000 copies to date.
Matt Bjorke: How important has YouTube been to the success in getting fans to know who HomeFree is?
Austin Brown: It’s huge. It’s the single most, the biggest factor in reaching the fans. It’s such a massive platform to be able to showcase what Home Free is all about. We may have gained a lot of attention from being on and winning The Sing-Off but YouTube has been the single biggest part of our success in reaching the audience and giving them something to follow and enjoy.
Matt: I’d imagine it’s something like that for a band like yourself a band without much radio airplay so far...
Austin: Well, as we continue to grow an audience there, with millions of plays and views, hopefully, it gets the attention of country music radio and that they’ll have to play us, because of how big our audience has become.
Matt: Yeah, and especially with the new album coming out. How does that expand the Home Free story?
Austin: It tells another part of our story. It shows a different side to our band, one you don’t always get from the live shows. I mean, we work very hard to create unique songs and things in the studio and work equally hard to recreate those sounds in a live setting but the albums allow us the freedom to do some cool little things.
Matt: I’d imagine that’s a fun thing, to be able to play different parts or add different textures that are harder to replicate live…
Austin: Yeah but then every night after every show, when we’re in the meet and greet lines with them [fans], they almost all say “you’re even better in person than you are on your records.”
Matt: That’s really all a band can ever ask for….
Matt: What was it like for you to get to record with The Oak Ridge Boys for the album? I’ve gotten to know Golden and Joe a bit. They’re nice guys.
Austin: Oh, man. That was really special. They’re all great guys and Joe’s really funny; he was always cracking jokes. And Golden, at first he can seem different than he is, but he’s one of the kindest, most-gentle people I’ve ever had the chance to meet. Getting to record with them for our next record was something I won’t ever forget.
Matt: Y’know, in many ways, they seem like a great example for a band like Home Free…
Austin: Yeah, there are many similarities, the band has been around a long time but none of those guys are original members of the band. They were just the right combination and that’s how I look at our band, Chris and Adam started the band all those years ago but we’ve only been performing together in this configuration for the past three years and it feels right. Their also a vocal band like us and to hear the way they harmonize in country music, it helps us showcase that we’re a country band and not just an a cappella band singing country music, and that’s really what we want to people see us as.
Matt: How important is it for you to have original music on your new album instead of all covers?
Austin: It’s very important for us to show who we are as a band. To show that we’re not just a cover band, even though we love doing the covers and that’s how we’ve gotten where we are. We’ll never stop doing the covers because they’re so fun to do but it’s great to be able to show these other sides to the band as well. To grow the band in country music.
Matt: Another very cool thing you’ve gotten to be able to do is to get to record with Kenny Rogers for his upcoming Christmas album. What was that experience like?
Austin: That was a special moment, too. We recorded that in Nashville with him and his band and to get to add what we do to that song and his record, it was truly another amazing opportunity for us, much like our experience with The Oak Ridge Boys. I think I can speak for the other guys and say that these are all moments we never even dreamed of having.
Matt: You recently got to experience your first time on the Grand Ole Opry. What was that experience like for you?
Austin: You just. Man, that’s one of the top three experiences I’ve ever had with Home Free. Everything about the history of that stage and that place. You can feel it. To get to play there, It’s an amazing accomplishment and once again, something that we didn’t even dream of when the band went to appear on The Sing-Off those years ago. So to get the chance to play for that crowd, I’m sure I can speak for the guys again and say that’s one of our top three experiences we’ve ever had as a band.
Matt: I can imagine. Where can fans catch Home Free out on the road?
Austin: We’ll be playing shows through the rest of the year [the 2015 Don’t It Feel Good Tour], going through October, I think before we hit the road again for a full Holiday Tour.
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