Satellite Conference Call with Tyler Grady, Joe Munoz, Ashley Rodriguez and Janell Wheeler

3rd Update: Janelle Wheeler’s upbeat interview, after the jump. She wishes she had performed a Top 40 tune with her guitar instead of the Heart song.

2nd Update: Joe Munoz’s interview is up now.

Updated: Added a recap of Ashley Rodriguez’s interview.  She thought the judges were too harsh. Check it out after the jump.

I just finished the satellite conference call with this week’s eliminated Top 24 contestants: Tyler Grady, Joe Munoz, Ashley Rodriguez and Janell Wheeler.  Here are the highlights:

Tyler Grady:  He seemed a little taken aback by the media criticism of his remarks to the judges last night.  He also too issue with Ellen’s critique of him Wednesday night.  He knows who he is  musically: Tyler does not plan on changing his performance style.  He name checked his band a lot. Wailing Waters y’all. Nazareth Pa…

  • Tyler noticed that he was getting some heat in the media for calling out the contradictory advice he was getting from the judges after his elimination last night. “I just wanted to let everyone know that I  really meant know disrespect by that, I just wanted…I felt when I watched the show back  on Wednesday, I felt I was too caught up in the moment to stand up for myself, whereas contestants are absolutely encouraged to express themselves when they are being critiqued I felt that I was…kind of shocked with the criticism and didn’t get a chance to express my feelings…I meant no disrespect. I’m not angry at the judges or anything like that.”
  • On changing up what he was doing for the judges, “If I would have made it through another week, it would have been due to a fanbase that appreciated what I was doing, so I probably would have just stuck to my guns and performed in the same style I had been performing in. I may have chosen a more recent rock song, but you wouldn’t have seen me coming out in baggy jeans, and wearing a headset microphone. I wouldn’t have been changing my performance style at all.”
  • He’s not blaming the judges but he felt that as a contestant on the show, he had to stand up for himself and go out with “some dignity”.
  • Tyler was considering “Baba O’ Riley” by the Who and “Remedy” by the Black Crowes, initially, but after the criticism, was considering a more modern song.  He stresses that he would not have changed his performance style, which had been very consistent throughout the competition.
  • On that note, he says “It’s not about the era, it’s about the performance, it’s about the emotion, I just want my fans to realize that what you see on American Idol is the type of performer you’ll see when my band performs”  He hopes to get his fans from the show on board with his band, Wailing Waters.
  • “In response to Ellen’s critique of my lack of honesty and charisma on stage, I absolutely do respect her as an entertainer on stage and as a critic, but, I feel like she kind of misrepresented me there…I’m very consistent in my performance and very honest on stage.”
  • Having gone through the Idol experience, he realizes how difficult it is to perform for television
  • Tyler stressed that it was important not to let down your fans. If he had made it another week, he would have taken that as a sign NOT to change what he was doing. When you are building a fan base, and they are supporting you, you have to give them what they want, he feels.
  • Tyler says the contradictory advice he got from the judges was confusing, but he’s trying to move on from that.  “I don’t have any bitterness from that, ” he says. He’s going back to PA to work with his band, and you’ll see the same sort of performance there as he did on Idol.
  • He stresses the importance of sticking to your guns, “You do need to stick to your guns as a performer, you have to stay true to yourself. Honesty in performance is everything. I am very honest when I perform on stage.”
  • He says he learned a lot from the show, “American Idol is one of the best education programs you could possibly get into…there’s no better school for the entertainment industry. We literally had the best of the best.”
  • As far as lack of airtime, he says that Kris Allen and Kelly Clarkson went into the show with very little air time, he doesn’t think that had an affect on the result.
  • Musicians he likes: Kings of Leon is his favorite current band. Led Zepplin is his favorite of all time.

I’ll have the rest in a bit, so keep checking back.

After the Jump…Ashley Rodriguez, Joe Munoz and Janelle Wheeler

Ashley Rodriguez

The judges came in  “throwing punches” this week, says Ashley.  She thinks it’s unfortunate that they didn’t cut some slack for first week nerves, or mix in a little positivity with the negative critiques. Ashley wouldn’t change a thing about her Idol experience. She  got a taste of the life as an entertainer and wants more.   Here’s a recap of her interview:

  • The thing Ashley learned from Idol is that “Now more than ever, I have to fight for what I want. It gave me a little taste of the dream, and I’m willing to work hard for it, especially now that I’ve got a little glimpse of what this life is like.”
  • On the judges being too harsh, “They were not taking any chances this week. I think a lot of people thought that maybe they would be a little lenient considering it was our first live show. It turns out that they were coming in throwing punches. I wouldn’t say that they were too hard, but definitely could have used a little love from them, that’s for sure. I think that they were very quick to give a lot of  criticism and not back it up by anything positive, which is unfortunate, because you can always find something good in a performance even if it falls apart. There’s always something positive…they didn’t really highlight on that too much.”
  • “We’ve all kind of agreed that…Simon and the rest of the judges were a little harsh, with both the girls and the guys…there was definitely no leniency with it being our first live show…which is unfortunate because there are a lot of jitters and nerves that go into our first live show.  But, they’re doing their job and there job is to critique…and to give criticism.  At the end of the day, I love them all, they’ve all played such a huge role in this experience for me.  Hopefully we’ll be crossing paths again.”
  • There isn’t a thing she would have changed, “I feel like I went into this competition giving 100% all the time and I think it’s actually really really awesome thing for me that I can walk out of it saying that I have no regrets. I gave my all in every performance, in every situation, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that one opportunity that may not have been for me is going to bring me to the next best thing.”
  • Her most memorable experiences were the Top 24 photoshoot, which was “A blast” and “Super-glamorous and really exciting.” She also loved doing press.  She gives big props to Rickey Minor and the band.
  • She appreciates her wonderful and supportive fans.  She hoping that in the future, she’ll have an opportunity to make an album for them.
  • Her roomates were Janell and Katelyn Epperly, and she was friends with Michele Delamore.
  • Idol was a “great platform and an awesome opportunity and an incredible moment to sing in front of such an huge audience….what a better way to jumpstart your career.”

Joe Munoz

Joe got really nervous when Ryan asked Kara which of the two contestants, Tim or Joe, did she think were going home.  Good thing for Joe, she didn’t answer the question.

  • About not seeing very much of himself in the first few weeks of the show he says “I didn’t really have very much control over it, that’s just how they tried to handle the show, I wasn’t really disappointed. I think I had my moment…I got eliminated, but I had a blast.”
  • On where he’ll go from here, “I really love pop music, I’m a pop guy, I see myself doing a pop record.”  Joe wants to do different things:  musical theater,   TV and making records.
  • Joe says he wouldn’t do anything differently if he had the chance to do it over again.  “I feel really comfortable with all the decisions I made. I’m pretty happy with what I did and I’m pretty proud of myself.”
  • Besides Jason Mraz, he really loves Michael Buble and Celine Dion.
  • What did Tim Urban (whowas declared safe) have to say to him? He saw Tim before he left the hotel. Todrick Hall was one of his best friends on the show.
  • He doesn’t doesn’t think his lack of screen time hurt him, because others who also lacked screen time got through. “I try not to think about it, ” he says “Even thought the outcome wasn’t the best for me, I have faith things will get better after this.”
  • Did he think he would be eliminated? “I was trying to keep calm, it’s so unpredictable, you don’t really know who is going to go home, I didn’t want to get over-confident.”
  • What was he feeling when Ryan asked Kara which one was going to go home? “That was kind of nerve-wracking.  “I was blocking myself  from even listening because I didn’t want to get more nervous than I already was.”

Janell Wheeler

Janelle is totally one of those people for whom the glass is always half full.  Not even 24 hours after her elimination, she was upbeat and chipper. She regrets her song choice this week, and wishes she had busted out the guitar and performed a Top 40 hit.   She’s proud of how she went out, and feels her reprise of “What About Love” was better than her first.  Eventually, Janell is heading to Nashville.

  • Elimination night was the most memorable of her Idol experiences. But, she says that she’s really proud of herself and the way she went out.  Some of the other girls have texted her to say that hey admired her and that she was a “class act” and went out with poise.  “I kept it together, I sang my song better than the first time and I’m really happy with how it went. If I had to go out, I’m glad I went out that way.”
  • As far as the judges being contradictory, Janell says, “I think I knew exactly what they wanted from me. I was just choosing to do it the second week. The first rehearsal with me and that song was a little more country, however it lost a lot of it’s rugged sound and energy so I did switch it back to the rocker version. I think it definitely helped me perform better, but I think that in order for me to really have secured a place to the next round I should have gone ahead and brought the guitar out and performed a Top 40 hit like “American Boy” which I definitely was planning on doing next week. I will definitely be sticking with a style I do best which is so close to my Hollywood audition, my most memorable one, “American Boy.”
  • She loves Ellen. She’s a big fan of her talk show. She thought she was refreshing and knows music and thinks she did a “bang-up job” on her first live show.
  • On contestants being done in by the nerves,   “It’s so different being live, the band is really really loud and aggressive…it’s awesome you get so into it, and I think, because of that, everyone sounds good while you’re in house…when I did listen to the show, I definitely heard a lot of us having pitch problems. It was our first show, you don’t know how the sound works yet…my performance changed from the first night and the second night. I sang the same song, but I sang it differently.  I had a better concept of the stage, of the sound,   of my vocals with the band.”  Janell is confident that each time the contestants get up on the stage, it’s going to get better and better.
  • She called her parents and told them to be prepared, because she didn’t have a good feeling about the day. She’s usually a hopeful person, but Janell had a feeling she’d be cut.
  • Because she didn’t get the worst comments or the best comments,   Janell feels she was “in that dangerous zone” that made people think that she was safe. People didn’t know that they had to vote, they were trying to save people who they thought were in danger.
  • Janell plans to go back to Tampa, where she was living before Idol. She’s be writing and “just getting ready for the future.”  She says, “I have some tricks under my sleeve.”
  • Janell is striving to bring together all the different influences and musical elements she’s been involved with. She wants to “give country a little refreshing take…it’s such an awesome genre to be a part of…I want to use a couple of different styles to make it my own and really put my stamp on it.”
  • Janelle was working her day job up until the moment she left for Idol, she tried to prepare herself for Idol, but was “really kinda on my own.”  “I think that’s what made me unique, ” she says, “I really was starting from scratch.”
  • Janell says she’s “Nashville-bound”

About mj santilli 34832 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!