Brett Pauly isn't somebody who's only going to share the good news in his life.
Pauly, lead singer of the country band Redline, tried out for "The Voice" in Phoenix, Arizona, Feb. 4. From a field of approximately 6,000 singers auditioning, he reached the second level, which allowed him to give a longer audition the next day.
"The producers told me (after the second audition), 'It's not a question of you being good or bad,'" Pauly said. "'Sometimes it's just about timing. We hope you'd come back and do this again.' They were really cool about it."
Born and raised in Wahpeton, Pauly, 31, is celebrating nearly five years as a member of Redline. The band formed in the summer of 2013, giving its first performance at the Red River Valley Fair almost five years ago.
"We all work full-time jobs. I'm a business banker for Bremer Bank in Fargo. Nathan Stang (bassist and songwriter) is creative director for Off the Wall Advertising. Music gives us a break from our everyday lives. It allows us to cut loose. The best part is meeting so many people on the road, at a club or playing a festival," Pauly said.
Not advancing further with "The Voice" isn't a period for Pauly's musical journey, merely a semicolon. After a two-week vacation from performing, Redline will hit the stage again March 3. The band is giving a 9 p.m. concert at Shotgun Sally's in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
"In Arizona, I was letting my friends and our fans know what was going on," Pauly continued. "I was posting on social media, sharing photos. I wanted to bring everyone along for the ride. Even when I was sharing the bad stuff, it was still a positive experience."
Pauly's wife, Jill, inspired him to take a chance and audition for "The Voice."
"She had been pushing me for 3-4 years to give this a shot," Pauly remembered. "I had gone on an open call audition for 'American Idol,' but when we met, it wasn't even something I was ready for. She kept pushing."
Redline's already planned vacation gave him an opportunity to briefly leave North Dakota in the winter and his wife's persistence all combined to lead Pauly into auditioning in Phoenix.
"The rest is history. My wife wanted me to do it and I felt like I was ready to do it. Going down, I only thought I'd be there for a day," he said.
When Pauly arrived at the Gila River Arena, it was 5:30 a.m. and there were already a couple hundred people waiting outside. By the time the doors opened at 7 a.m., approximately 6,000 people had gathered. It was 10:30 a.m. by the time Pauly made it through security, registered and was preparing to audition.
"They were calling us by our rows," Pauly continued. "I was in the first section. We were divided, row by row, into groups of 10 and brought to the makeshift audition rooms. Those were hockey locker rooms."
Waiting for his group to enter, Pauly listened to the auditions.
"I heard a couple voices that made me think, 'OK, they're for sure going to move forward,'" he said.
Pauly's group entered a room containing a producer from "The Voice," plus an "X'' on the floor. Each singer only had 45 seconds to audition. And Pauly was going first.
"I sang 'Stay A Little Longer' by Brothers Osborne, a verse and the chorus," Pauly added. "I honestly thought it wasn't my best performance, but I sat there and listened to the other nine sing. The producer said that if your name was called, you got to stick around."
Pauly was one of three who got to stick around. His second song was "Broken Halos" by Chris Stapleton.
"These are songs that require a lot of power in your voice. They asked me for a third song, something more low key. I did 'Greatest Love Story' by Lanco. After that, they asked me for my phone number and I sat down. I didn't know if I was advancing or not," Pauly continued.
Soon after, Pauly got the fabled "red ticket," learning he was advancing. He and the two others asked to stick around, both female singers, were directed to go to the "yes room."
"It's on the other side of the building," Pauly remembered. "We have to walk by all these people still waiting to audition. As I was walking through the tunnel, I raised my card. Everyone — 3,500 to 4,000 people still out there — could see me. They cheered.
It was a really cool adrenaline rush."
Pauly learned he'd be auditioning the next day, this time for a different producer, at a recording studio, the Wahpeton Daily News reported .
"I had such a wide range of emotions. I told Jill, 'I did it. I made it.' This was the part of the process I didn't make it to with 'American Idol.' I mean, I went down with zero expectations, thinking I'd do this and spend the rest of my time on vacation. The 35 minutes it took for me to get from the arena to seeing her, I was shaking the whole time," Pauly said.
The next day, Pauly had a 12:45 p.m. audition. He arrived early at the recording studio.
"I met people who had reached where I was in other cities," Pauly continued. "Once they got to that level, they didn't have to go to open calls. I could do the same thing in Houston on Saturday, Feb. 17, but I'm not going to do this twice in one month."
Pauly sang for two producers this time. Unlike his first audition, this time he sang to a musical backing track.
"I did a full rendition of 'Broken Halos.' The producers were really cool. These were nice guys, down to earth and relaxed. I picked up on their energy. It was a laid back atmosphere, not tense," he said.
Despite not advancing further, Pauly is proud to have tried out for "The Voice."
"I understand that it's just one avenue," he said. "And to be honest, I'd rather be cutting my teeth on a tour, going town to town and building a name for myself. Still, the politics of the music industry — a situation like this is not going to happen every day. There might be a producer who maybe one day hears my voice, sees me and likes me."
Pauly's "nothing is finished" attitude to his music career is aided by the fact that nothing is finished. Now that "The Voice" is familiar with him, he could get a callback for a future season.
"I like that they want to build and keep a talent pool," Pauly said.
The Pauly family is building its own talent pool. There's daughter Leighton, 6, plus sons Brevin, 3, and Easton, 2. Brett and Jill Pauly are also expecting their fourth child; she is 28 weeks pregnant with their third son.
"I hope they end up interested in music," Pauly continued. "My dad, Brad, knew from a young age that I could sing. I just didn't really get going until I was 24 years old."
At the same time, Pauly doesn't want to push his children into music, merely to show them the door.
"I play my guitar at home. The kids sing along. They have little toy guitars. When they're old enough and mature enough to take care of them, I do plan to give them each a guitar. It's just so they can have exposure to music. But who knows, with that many guitars, we may have a family band someday," he said.
A self-taught guitarist, Pauly thinks of himself as merely a guy who strums chords.
"The rest of the guys in Redline, they're amazing musicians," he continued. "I just make sure to strum the right parts and get people engaged. We are all so appreciative of the support we've had from the Twin Towns Area. It's all been great."