“Music chose me; I didn’t choose music,” said Jesse Kinch, who gained fame after appearing on ABC’s Rising Star in 2014. Four years later, the Seaford native is gearing up to release his long-awaited debut album I’m Not Like Everybody Else on June 1. The album will feature a mix of original songs, including the recently released track “Preaching Like The Pope,” as well as famous covers like “I Put A Spell On You.” The latter is a song that helped the 23-year-old win the singing competition show, which had Brad Paisley, Kesha and Ludacris as judges.
Though he knew the show was less popular than others of its kind like The Voice and American Idol, Kinch felt it was the right choice for him. “The reason I went on the show was because they gave me absolute creative freedom to choose my own songs and that’s all I could ever ask for.” By performing tunes like “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers Band and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” he allowed viewers to see who he is as an artist. Kinch, who started playing guitar at 6 years old, was introduced to rock ‘n’ roll by his parents and instantly fell in love with it. I’m Not Like Everybody Else will play off that love. “It sends a clear message to everybody who I am. It’s the perfect representation. I’m just so excited for everybody to hear it and embrace it.”
Before heading out on his tri-state record store tour that includes a stop at Looney Tunes in West Babylon on April 21, Kinch spoke about his rock debut and staying true to himself.
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Let’s talk about your debut album.
It’s been in the works for a long time. And I feel that everything that I’ve ever listened to and loved and embraced is coming out on this album. The music that I inhaled when I was 15, 16, 17, listening to vinyl albums of the 60s and 70s, all that great songwriting—this album is me exhaling all of that.
Who are some of your musical influences?
My parents introduced me to bands and artists like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Doors. I was so infatuated with the passion and energy that went into rock ‘n’ roll, especially in the singers. I was so impressed with how they blend these songs. I felt like they were living every word…but I was also absolutely in love with singers like Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, those operatic pop singers…When I heard Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli, I heard the pureness, beauty, magnificence and perfection that a voice can have.
What’s your songwriting process like?
It always starts with the melody and the music first. Something will just come to me out of nowhere. A chord progression could inspire a melody or a melody could inspire a chord progression. But when you’re talking about lyrics, I am very inspired by anything; it doesn’t necessarily have to be something introspective that happened in my own life. It can be something that I’ve seen in a movie or a TV show, heard about on the news or witnessed in society.
What made you audition for Rising Star?
I was never into singing competitions…I was asked to go on The Voice and America’s Got Talent but I never went through with it because I didn’t feel there would be enough creative freedom. About March or April of 2014, I was contacted by a casting director from [Rising Star] and she wrote me and said, “Me and some other producers have heard your version of ‘I Put A Spell On You’ on YouTube…and we really want you to come to a private audition in Boston to perform the song in front of the executive producers.” At first, I was thinking they wanted me to come down and do a pop song…but she said, “No we want you to be true to yourself. We want you to do ‘I Put A Spell On You’…They sent me to LA for the final audition and from there I went on the show.
Why did it take a few years since Rising Star to release the album?
The prize for the show was winning a deal with Capitol Records. Immediately they tried to change me; they tried to change my sound and everything I showcased on the show. People voted for my style of singing and the songs that I chose every week. I feel that I proved after winning the show that I knew what was best for my sound and what kind of songs I need to sing…They were trying to get me to sing songs written by co-writers. I already had my original music that I felt I was ready to give to people and to the fanbase that watched the show…After that, we parted ways…I knew I had to stay true to myself and do my music my way. I got signed with Curb Records and Curb Records let me make my album the way I wanted to make it…There are many things in life that are replaceable and a record deal is one of them. But there’s one thing that isn’t replaceable and that’s your heart, your soul and your integrity. Once you give that up, it’s gone.
Do you hope to bring rock ’n’ roll music back?
That’s one way to describe it. But in general, it’s just to reinvigorate this generation to real music, real songwriting, real melodies, real passionate vocals…It could be a matter of taste or something else but [the] traditional rock ’n’ roll and opera [I listened to] when I was younger, compared to the music that’s out today, I just don’t think there’s a comparison…something has been lost, something is missing from music today. I think there are a lot of people out there that feel it.
What can fans expect from your upcoming performances?
I will be performing everything from the album and I’ll be throwing in some new originals that could be on the second album and even some more classic rock covers. The fans are going to get what they expect. They’re going to hear Jesse Kinch the way they heard me on Rising Star and they will hear even more. I am going to bring what I’ve always brought to my shows, which is heart, soul and passion and being 100 percent me.