A version of this column appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
The Swon Brothers head to Nashville after successful run on “The Voice”
The Muskogee duo, who finished third last week on the hit reality show, flew to Music City on Sunday to take meetings in the hopes of landing a record deal
The days after their deep run on the hit reality show “The Voice” have felt distinctly unreal for The Swon Brothers.
“It just doesn’t even seem real. It really doesn’t. ‘Cause I feel like the exact same person and now we’re getting stopped in airports and everywhere we go … and autographing pictures and that’s just really weird,” Colton Swon said in a phone interview a week ago from their hometown of Muskogee.
“We’re just doing what we’re doing. A lot of people (from ‘The Voice’), it’s different for them ‘cause they were working a regular a day job, but me and my brother have been doing shows and playing the last 10 years together at least. … We were kind of ready for it, I think, but at the same time, we didn’t know how big it was gonna be.”
After almost 20 straight hours of sleep and a few days of home-cooked meals in Oklahoma, it was back to work for Colton, 24, and his brother, Zach, 28. They flew to Nashville, Tenn., Sunday to take meetings for potential record and tour deals.
“Now, we need to get out of the fantasy world and this is where the real work starts,” Zach said. “I think that’s gonna be the difference between who does big things coming off this show and who doesn’t. It’s gonna be who actually works and continues the momentum, which we’re gonna do.”
Making the finals
Competing on fellow Oklahoman Blake Shelton’s team, the Muskogee musicians notched by far the best finish for a duo on the popular TV singing contest, finishing third during the show’s Season 4 finale. The youngest contestant, 16-year-old Texan Danielle Bradbery, a fellow Team Blake contender, was crowned the winner on the June 18 season closer, while pop-rocker Michelle Chamuel, representing hip-hop hit-maker Usher’s team, was this season’s runner-up.
Bradbery’s grand prize was a recording contract, and she signed the day after the finale with Big Machine Label Group. joining the ranks of Taylor Swift, The Band Perry and Season 3 “The Voice” winner Cassadee Pope. The Swon Brothers had their sights set on a similar goal as they prepared to hit Music City.
“We will consider our options, and we’ll get a record deal somewhere. Just wherever it’s a good fit. We have a few things in mind. But this business is all about relationship and who gets you,” Zach said. “We don’t really know exactly but we have a plan in order.”
“You just gotta see what feels comfortable and see who you gel with. Getting a deal is probably gonna be the easy part. Deciding what feels right, that’s the hard part,” Colton added.
“We’re seeing where we best fit on which tour. We’re gonna try to get on like an opening act spot somewhere. I don’t know where that’ll be, but it looks like we’ve got some good names thrown our way that we definitely wouldn’t have to think about too much.”
They weren’t disappointed or shocked with their third-place finish on “The Voice.”
“To be honest, we all kind of knew that was coming. It wasn’t like a big secret. You know, Danielle had just dominated,” Colton said. “We were really excited (for her). Like that girl is a true all-American girl with just a heart of gold. And America couldn’t have picked a better winner.”
“I think anybody going to the finale, it’s a win,” Zach added. “It’s a TV show, so they’re only gonna announce one winner — one official winner. But as a musician and someone who is chasing a career in this business, if you spend a year on TV or six months or whatever, that’s getting you exposure and fans that money can’t buy.” It has set up us nice, you know, all the relationships we’ve made and having Blake in our corner and everything, that’s invaluable assets.”
From performing with Bob Seger to hiring their first booking agent, the Swon siblings have marked a wide range of milestones thanks to their success on “The Voice.” They received the “Rising Star” award from the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, sang backup for Sheryl Crow on national TV and earned their first No. 1 on the iTunes country chart. They toured the devastation left by the May 20 twister that hit Moore and then sang the national anthem at Shelton’s sold-out “Healing in the Heartland” benefit show at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“Even though we look back and it has literally been a year of our lives just about, it still just flew by,” Zach said. “It’s kind of hard to enjoy all those big moments because … like when we came home and got all the awards and honors and even singing with some of the people on stage, like you don’t get to soak it in enough to even enjoy it. I enjoy it the most when I watch it back on YouTube, and I have to remember what it felt like. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime deal, and we’re grateful.”
Of all the high points during their run on “The Voice,” performing Seger’s classic ballad “Night Moves” with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer on last week’s finale was the highest. They scored a Top 5 iTunes country hit with their cover of his “Turn the Page” earlier in the season.
“I looked over at him in the performance and just shook my head like ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me. This isn’t even real,’” Colton said. “What was really cool was that this was the first year he cleared songs, and he did it for us. He watched our clips before he would clear ‘em.”
“If a producer would have came to me and said, ‘OK, you have the choice of winning “The Voice” or performing with Bob Seger.’ I would’ve picked perform with Bob Seger,” Zach added. “That was a very, very just pivotal epic moment in our journey for sure. We’ll never forget that.”
During last week’s finale, they also did a duet with Shelton, who was texting them that day and is living up to his reputation as an invested mentor. The brothers anticipate relocating to Nashville to pursue their musical aspirations but hope to one day emulate the Tishomingo resident, who moved back to Oklahoma after a decade of establishing his career in Music City.
“We’re gonna play it by ear. We definitely have some meetings and some things to talk about with a few people. We might be in the studio next week recording our single. You never know. We’ll see how it goes,” Colton said. “We’re definitely excited to put original music out and just show the real Swon Brothers.”
“Oklahoma is home to us, obviously, and we don’t want to leave. But Nashville’s where the business is. That’s where you sit and write hit songs with other writers,” Zach added. “We don’t know for sure, but more than likely, that’s gonna be a place of residence, at least for awhile. But I know when it’s all said and done, we’ll be back in Oklahoma at some point.”