After twelve years of hits while fronting the multi-platinum rock act Hinder, Austin John Winkler left the band in 2013 for various reasons. Now, after three years away from the spot light, the Oklahoma born rocker is back with not only a new EP, but also a new and extremely diverse style when compared to his past sound. His solo EP, Love Sick Radio, was released in April and in this exclusive interview, Winkler speaks out on his latest helping of tunes, leaving Hinder, influences behind the new sound and more.
For various reasons you’ve been out of the limelight for a good while now, besides the new EP, are you were you want to be mentally and spiritually in life?
Austin John: Oh yes man, I think everybody is always drilling and trying to figure this shit out. But, I am doing great, I have been rehearsing and want to get this thing rolling again.
The new EP, I listened to it and I will say that I liked it. I am not going to sit here and say that it is great, but, it is good. But the new sound on this EP, it is totally different than what the fans were used to hearing from you. It is more pop, more contemporary than your older stuff. My question is, what influenced you to take your music in this new direction?
Austin John: I have been working on this project for about three years, and the EP that came out is a taste for the fans to see what direction I am going in. I have talked with people about it, and some were skeptical, but, once they heard some of the songs they were cool. I look at it like this, I am trying to bring a rock element to a broader audience. You cannot take the rock out of my voice, that cannot happen. I am trying to be honest and tell my story and help a lot of people.
You mentioned before that this new EP was like therapy for you, and you feel it can help others. Can you please go more in depth with that statement?
Austin John: I was going through a lot of stuff at the time of making this EP, working on this project helped me make it through another day of bullshit. You cannot put me in a vocal booth and I not have therapy. I have been doing this for a really long time. I created Hinder and we had a really good run, I started writing this kind of music that is on this EP when I was still with Hinder, they did not seem too interested so this is how this project happened.
I have read social media concerning this new EP and there has been some mixed emotions with it from the fans. Most comments have been positive but, there have been some comments where the fans are telling you to go back to rocking out, go back to your roots, etc. What do you say to the ones who say this sound is not you, the ones who are not grasping this new style?
Austin John: How can somebody in Ohio who has never met me say this is not me? (He laughs) This is a project, and an ongoing one. I have had a lot more people who were like that in the beginning, but, after they got the EP they said it was still me. My personality is all through the new EP.
One of the greatest lyrics come from your song, “Clique 2 Follow” from the EP, it reads, “We need to pull the plug on Kanye.” When I heard that phrase I instantly got happy. Give the readers the insight to that song.
Austin John: I was on the way to the studio and one of his songs came on and I was like, I am so sick of this dude. I don’t get it. It is the whole pop thing, which is ironic because it is a pop-sounding song. But people seem to go along with that because it is there, and somebody has to wake you guys up.
When it comes to the pop scene, for me, it seems like it all has been done before, they keep putting the same shit out to the fans, it is like we are zombies when it comes to certain genres in the music world.
Austin John: Oh of course, most people have their face always in a phone so they are likes zombies anyway. We have lowered the bar tremendously.
Check out the song “Carry You”
One of the exceptional tunes on the new EP is your duet with Jessie James Decker, “Howlin'”. A damn good song.
Austin John: I was told that Jessie wanted us to write a duet for her, and the song ended up being so much about me with all that I was going through at the time, it ended up on my EP. I think she did great, and I feel a lot of people can relate to that situation.
You were the voice of Hinder, there is no doubt about that. But people move on. Just recently they released a new acoustic EP, just wondering if you have heard it and if so, your opinion. And let’s go deeper with this question, do you ever look back and wish things would have went different for you and the guys?
Austin John: I have not heard their new music. But, you know man, I had a blast touring the world and writing the songs and connecting with people when I was with Hinder. You know, this has been better for both parties. You are living with these guys, working with these guys all the time, doing everything together and it gets overwhelming at times. There is no animosity towards them, I am glad they are happy because I am happy.
How many babies do you think were conceived to “Lips of Angel”?
Austin John: Oh man, I hope at least five hundred thousand.
What do you believe the fans will get most out of this new EP?
Austin John: That it is really honest, the message is still there and real. I hope it helps people through some times.