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Austin Jenckes on his 'Voice' exit: 'It was just my time to go home'

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The Voice Austin Jenckes
Tyler Golden/NBC

On Tuesday night’s episode of The Voice, two more singers went home, leaving a freshly minted top eight. EW spoke with one of the eliminees today, folk-rock power singer, Austin Jenckes, about his thoughts on the controversial Twitter instant save, what his Coach Blake Shelton is like off-camera, grooming that beard of his, and who he thinks will win the competition.

Check out our Q&A with Jenckes after the jump.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling today after the eliminations?

AUSTIN JENCKES: I’m feeling really, really great, actually. It’s been such an amazing experience and I got a little emotional last night just because I’m, you know, saying goodbye to so many people that I’ve spent every day with. I was counting actually, it’s like 65-plus days that I’ve been in L.A. this year, hanging out with contestants and people working on the show. So that part is hard, but as far as not being a contestant anymore, I’m very much so at peace and I’m really looking forward to just moving on.

Who was it hardest to say goodbye to?

I think Ray [Boudreaux] and Cole [Vosbury]. We’ve spent a lot of time together writing, and just hanging out, and talking about the industry, and our dreams and goals. I know I’ll see them again really soon, but knowing that they’re gonna be here and I’m gonna be back home that definitely is…it’s just an emotional thing.

Tuesday was the second night that viewers could use the Twitter instant save; what do you think about that portion of the show?

Whether it was everything leading up to the blind auditions, or the battles, or the knockouts, to me, it’s just another part of the show. It didn’t really affect me at all, as far as [how] I feel about the show.

The viewers at home are able to see how their favorite artists are doing on iTunes, so in a way, you can track your progress ahead of the show. Did you have some sort of strategy beforehand?

I had the tweet all ready to go, if that were to happen…also, I kind of sized myself up against all the other contestants. I had the least amount of Twitter followers out of everybody in the top 10. And so I knew that if I was gonna be going to the bottom three, that there was a chance that I’d be going home. But really it wasn’t devastating…I know that none of that is in my hands. All I can do is perform and sing and do what I do. And I feel very welcomed by America, I don’t feel anybody gave up on me…it was just the way the cards played and it was just my time to go home.

What was going on in your head during the five-minute voting period? What happens on stage between you, Kat, and Caroline?

Cole was there and he was in the bottom four and before we went up on stage…Cole was really worried — I think he thought he was going home. And I knew that he wasn’t going home. He’s really hitting a stride right now on the show. And his songs are doing well and his Twitter following is blowing up, so I just gave him a big hug and was like, “Man, you’re gonna be fine. Don’t worry about it,” and I said, “Don’t worry about me either”…So I think my mind was just really focused on everybody else and making sure that they’re okay. Caroline [Pennell] is such a sweetheart and I think I was a little worried that she was gonna get sad even if she had won…it was just important to me that [Caroline] knew that I was happy for her and that she didn’t need to worry about me.

Is there anything you think you would have done differently in the competition?

I don’t think there’s anything I would’ve changed, no. There are millions of songs out there, there are all different types of clothes, there’s all things that you can do…I could’ve gotten to [the] gym, I could’ve shaved my beard, I could’ve done so many different things…I think America got to see the real me.

Well that’s a great attitude. But you can’t shave your beard; it’s Movember.

[Laughs] I didn’t even think about that. I haven’t shaved it in, like, nine months.

From working with your coach Blake Shelton, was there anything that surprised you about him?

He swears a lot more. I think that’s a given — he’s a hilarious dude, he’s very sarcastic, but he’s also just a very gentle soul. He keeps you on your toes…When him and Cher were in a room together, they were just back and forth, kind of ragging on each other…I’m just standing there, it’s like I’m a bystander in this crazy, celebrity war that’s going on in front of me.

Who do you think is gonna win it all?

I’m 100 percent behind Ray and Cole. It’s because I’ve spent the most time with them and I’m a huge fan of what they do.

Throughout the show you’ve been praised for the power that you bring to your performances — what’s your pre-show routine?

I actually practice a lot less, I think, than most people. I think a lot of people focus on lyrics and their notes and try to make sure that they have everything down. For me, actually, I’ll learn the song, go through it once or twice, but sometimes I won’t even sing a song the day of, or even the day before…I just go up and feel my way through it…It’s never muscle memory for me, it’s just a real time thing…I do that on purpose because I don’t want anything ever to be over-rehearsed or too perfect.

What’s next for you?

I have a West Coast tour booked — it’s about 10 shows down the West Coast…I’m really trying to figure out what kind of record I want to put out, who I wanna work with…also trying to figure out what the right band is — it’s important that you pick the right people. You’re spending a lot of days on the road in a van with a bunch of sweaty dudes.

Watch Austin Jenckes’ Monday night top 10 performance of “Your Love” below:

The Voice airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET and Tuesdays 9 p.m. ET.