The Voice

Meet and hear more from Johnny Gates


Johnny Gates of The Voice Season 12 (NBC Photo)His audition: Johnny Gates, 31, of Providence, Rhode Island, auditioned with Rob Stewart’s “Maggie May.” At the end of the first chorus, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton turned their chairs. Alicia Keys joined them near the end of the performance. Gwen called his voice “incredible.” Johnny joined Team Gwen.

His background: Johnny describes himself as a late bloomer to music. When he was a senior in high school, a friend asked him to join a band “honestly because I had long hair.” Johnny’s house became ground zero for the band. One day, he was listening to a Taylor Swift single. Inspired, he drove from Providence to Nashville to meet her producer. Within three months, the band had a showcase in New York and was signed. That’s the good news. The bad news is they made an album, two years went by “and we found ourselves on a shelf.” They did eventually get to tour with Rod Stewart. That band is now on hold; Johnny is performing solo gigs around L.A. “I’m 31 now. I can’t be chasing this forever,” Johnny told The Voice. “I really believe this is my last big shot.”

What the show didn’t show:

* He might have been asked to join that band because of his “awesome hair,” as the Voice website describes it. But once he did, Johnny “immediately fell in love with music,” according to his website bio.

* The band is called the Runaway Saints and also includes Jamie Jarbeau and Matt Scanlon.

* The band had performed in the New England area for years before relocating to Nashville and signing a publishing deal with Warner Nashville.

* In addition to Rod Stewart, they toured with Jonny Lang, Secondhand Serenade and Ryan Cabrera.

* The band was planning to release its first album, “BLVSD,” in the spring of 2016, according to its Facebook page, but that didn’t happen. There is an excellent Runaway Saints song called “Brooklyn Nights” that’s on Soundcloud and that you can listen to below.

* During a conference call with the media this week, Johnny said his first priority post-Voice will be to release a solo album. But he added that he’d love to eventually release an album with the Runaway Saints. “We’ve been playing together for literally 13 years,” he told Voice Views. “That’s a long build-up for one album. But I would love nothing else but to release an album with those guys. When that will be, I don’t know because my focus is definitely on this right now and I really want to follow-up the show with a solo album. But I would love to, down the road, do an album with Runaway Saints.”

* As for how his solo material compares to the music he played with the Runaway Saints, Johnny had this to say: “(The Runaway Saints) always tried to be more of a rock-n-roll kind of vibe. But with my solo stuff I’m trying to go for a more stripped down version of that. I do a lot of the solo stuff for my shows on an electric guitar with a reverb kind of sound. So definitely more of a stripped version of Runaway Saints, but still with something else there — some ump to it.”

Keeping up with Johnny:
Twitter: @JohnnySings
Facebook (Runaway Saints)

“Brooklyn Nights” (Runaway Saints song)

“We Got Love” (Runaway Saints song)

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