The Voice's Matt McAndrew spills on competition, Adam Levine and McFANdrews
Every now and then, a contestant comes along on The Voice who inspires a special breed of fanfare and — with a legion of devoted followers dubbing themselves "McFANdrews" — Season 7's Matt McAndrew is clearly just such a contestant.
Sure, it probably has a little something to do with that fantastic head of hair. Or the tats spilling out from his sleeves. And, well, yes... those Harry Potter-meets-John Lennon specs, too.
But McAndrew's main draw is the New Jersey native's voice — which, admittedly, we've all been fangirling over since he sang the hell out of Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years" for his blind audition performance.
On making it this far
Naturally, we were pretty stoked to catch up with McAndrew before the Season 7 finale performances tonight to pick his brain about the journey from working at a Trader Joe's in Philly to hitting the stage as one of the final four contestants — the latter of which McAndrew admits he still hasn't quite wrapped his head around.
"Ever since live shows started, everything has been moving so quickly," he said. "That's one thing I'm looking forward to when the show ends... just reflecting on how crazy everything has been."
Of course, depending on how tonight plays out, the whirlwind may continue for this talented guy.
For starters, the odds certainly seem to be in the favor of his coach, Adam Levine, who enters the finale with three contestants — McAndrew, Chris Jamison and Damien Lawson — to Blake Shelton's one, country crooner Craig Wayne Boyd.
"Having three people on Team Adam makes me happy because it makes Adam happy," McAndrew admitted. "It's a cool confidence booster. I know he was stoked when three were in the top five, and it's cool to see his confidence in us reflected in the voting."
On his competition
Still, McAndrew is hesitant to single out any one contestant as the presumed victor, himself included, offering instead, "Honestly, I wouldn't be that surprised to see anyone win at this point... Craig has all the country music fans in his corner, and Chris has gained a lot of steam in the past few rounds."
We don't blame McAndrew for having a hard time picking out his biggest competition — the contestants have spent so much time together that, by this point, there's a definitive sense of brotherhood about them.
And with brotherhood comes a little insider information.
"Craig likes cooking, and he was by far the best when we all made gingerbread houses. Chris is really funny — maybe people don't know how funny he is. Once he gets comfortable around people, he can keep a straight face while making the most ridiculous jokes. And Damien's room always smells really good. He has a couple of air fresheners, and his room always smells like the synthetic version of a tropical island," McAndrew said when we asked him to spill surprising tidbits about his competitors.
As for McAndrew, what surprises us the most (or baffles us, really) is simply the fact that he hadn't been discovered before now.
"Honestly, I don't know if I would ever have been in this position without The Voice," he said.
Although he had been gigging pretty regularly in Philadelphia and had spent time in a few bands, nothing was really happening for him on the music front.
"A year ago, I was working two jobs. I was just trying to get a promotion at a grocery store, and I think once you start moving up in a job you get stuck on that path," he explained. "That's why I tried out for The Voice, because I was at that point where nothing was happening in my music career and I had already been out of college for a year working in different areas."
On those Sharpie-wielding, hashtag-slinging fans
None are more grateful for this development, perhaps, than McAndrew's super-devoted followers, the McFANdrews... some of whom may or may not be getting ink in his honor.
"I am waiting to see this! I know people Sharpie it on, which is amazing. Some look like tattoos, but under examination they look like they're drawn on with Sharpie," he said. "I'll have to check that one off the baby book when I can confirm."
Their (possibly faux) tattoo of choice? McAndrew's favorite of his 11 tats — his check box. "It's empty now, but when I got it I decided that I'll get the check when I'm signed to a record label," he said.
But despite the flattering attention from his legion of fans and the steadfast devotion of his girlfriend (who, like us, digs his distinctive specs), McAndrew confesses he might never adjust to his new sex symbol status.
"Ha! Man, I just don't feel like one," he said, laughing. "I was shooting a video today, and there were models there and stuff. I just felt like a really dorky high-schooler again."