Over the summer, millions of fans nationwide fell in love with Jared Blake on NBC's singing competition, 'The Voice.' After his elimination, Blake continued on with his love and passion for country music, and began working on his forthcoming album. While he may have not walked away the winner on 'The Voice,' Blake did in fact win in another sense -- by walking away from the show with experience and knowledge apply to his future in country music. Taste of Country visited with Blake after his return home to Nashville from playing gigs across the country to talk about his coach, Blake Shelton, his experience during and after the show, and what's yet to come from the singer-songwriter.

Fill us in on what you've been up to since your departure on 'The Voice.'
We're in the studio again. We just finished up working on the new single that's coming out. We'll be introducing that shortly, and we're back in the studio working on the rest of the album now. We've been touring. We just did Florida for three weeks, we were in the studio for a while, and went to Louisiana ... we're staying busy!

What can your fans expect to hear from you on the new album?
A little bit of everything. Obviously the big controversy on the show was whether I country or I was rock, and I said the whole time that country is a state of mind. For me it was the way I grew up and my experiences and everything. There's probably a little rock influence on that, but I think most country people dig that and want that. You see everything kind of moving in that direction, but it's still stone cold country to me.

Did you write a lot of the songs you are recording on the album?
I was writing for Sony/ATV Music Publishing for the last three years prior to 'The Voice,' so we had a stockpile of songs to go through already. I have also been writing new songs, but we've been looking at some outside songs as well, like the two that I'm in the studio currently working on. The [first] single is one that me and my guitar player wrote, and it's called 'Don't Mind.'

About when will the song impact radio?
I think we're looking at middle October. I think the release is sometime during the first couple weeks of October, so we'll be hitting up radio hard.

What was the biggest thing you walked away from that you learned from your time spent with Blake Shelton on 'The Voice'?
The way he treats the fans. Me and Blake had a lot of the same contacts and influences before meeting on the show that we didn't realize we had. Miranda Lambert's producer, I'm good friends with him. One of my best friends wrote his new title track. So we had a lot in common, and it was a kind of weird relationship with us because it wasn't so much of a musical mentor; it was more of a professional mentor. What I got from him the most was the way he treats his fans and the way he acted with them. Most of us on the show had some fans, but it wasn't that massive. So seeing it on a mass basis -- like how he handled Twitter. One of the things I really dug about his Twitter is that he misspells stuff. He says stuff wrong. You can tell that no one is editing him in that moment ... it isn't an office girl handling stuff for him ... it's him. People can see that and relate to that. That was one of the sides of seeing just how connected he stayed with everybody throughout that.

I've watched it with my own fans now. A ton of people will write in and say that they love the fact that I stay in touch with all of them so much. You've got nothing without the fans, so for someone like me who has been pursuing it as long as I have to get a chance to be on that show and get those fans ... I mean, they mean the world to me. You really don't have anything without them.

Looking back at your experience on the show, do you wish you would have done anything differently?
I probably would've driven the country thing home more. It seemed like people kept getting confused if I was rock or country. If you go back and look at the clips, every time I consistently say, "I'm country," and then Blake deemed me not country. Since the show we've talked more and he kind of sees that side of things, and has really been helping to hook me up with the right people in town who may have a different vision of what country is and what it can be ... what you can do with it. I don't really have any regrets. I still think Blake had the most to teach me, and I definitely think I won out on the fact that he's a stand-up dude. He's stood by anything he said he'd do for us.

If you could offer any advice to the contestants trying out on next season's show, what would you tell them?
It really depends on what you're looking for. For me, I needed exposure. Just like anything else, it's kind of a game you're playing based on the songs you're choosing and how you change them or how the songs affect people. So you can take more of a risk, and you either win the audience over or you wind up leaving. I use Javier [Colon] as an example. He went in doing exactly what he wanted to do, exactly how he wanted to do it, and he won the show. So I think it all depends on what you're looking for.

How has your life changed since being on 'The Voice'?
I don't know if it's my look or the controversy over the country or rock thing ... I don't know what it is, but it seems like I got almost as much exposure as the guys who finished out on top. What was weird about the show was as long as you were out there working it, it didn't seem like there was much difference in any of the Top 16. You could tell the people who are out there pushing it hardcore and the people who aren't. But the people who had been out there consistently on the road ... it seemed to effect all of us, roughly, the same. If you go to Google or something and search my name and 'The Voice,' it pulls up 4.3 million times someone has looked it up. So I know that's good. People are coming to us with different projects like TV or record-wise ... all sorts of stuff you never would've gotten before.

The weird part that people don't get is that if I go to a casino I get mobbed. People have some sort of association with being on TV and having money [laughs]! They think because I was on TV, I must have a lot of money. If I'm in Walmart, people don't say squat [laughs]! I think I've signed two autographs at Walmart. The other funny thing is people think because you've been on TV, you know everyone who is famous. I get tweets from people saying, "Hey Jared, will you let Justin Bieber know I'm a huge fan?! Thanks!" Like I have some sort of celebrity handbook of contacts because I've been on TV [laughs]. It's been weird. I think the biggest thing, club wise, is that most of us went from playing three to four hour cover gigs and slipping in a few original songs to now doing 40 minute shows in more concert settings, and doing mostly all originals. That's the most amazing feeling ... walking into a city you've never been before, sit in a bar you've been to before with just you and your acoustic guitar, and have people singing along to your songs.

Watch Jared Blake Perform His New Single 'Don't Mind'

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