ADAM ISAAC IN GOOD VOICE
PUBLISHED: 11:39 09 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:50 30 August 2017
Destined to be a pro-golfer Adam Isaac instead found fame on BBC’s The Voice. Stephen Davy-Osborne catches up with him three years on
When Adam Isaac rocked up at Duchy College as a 16-year-old student eager to study golf course management with his clubs over one shoulder and his guitar over the other, he only had aspirations of making it pro on the green. But after his debut stage appearance on BBC One’s The Voice in 2012 prompted some shameless namedropping from mentors Sir Tom Jones and will.i.am to secure his talents, it is fairly safe to say that he spent more of his time at college playing guitar than he did practicing his swing.
This summer he and his guitar returned to Cornwall where he spent much of the season hitting the stage and catching some waves in equal measure. These days he has swapped the golf clubs for a surf board, which has seen him front brands such as Animal while bringing his unique mix of rock pop and acoustic sounds to the sands of Fistral Beach.
He kicked off this summer return to the county in mid-June when he headlined on the Harbour Stage at the Joe Way Paddle for Life event in Newquay, before settling in to a seven week-long residency at Hendra. He revealed that if it wasn’t for those early days at Duchy he doubts he would be where he is now – raising the roof with his high-energy stage performances.
I was living away from home for four years from the age of 16 at college thinking that I was going to play loads of golf and hopefully come out of it being a professional golfer,’ he remembers. I took my guitar down there too and started playing songs, and my mates were like - you should do more of that! They would encourage me to do a gig in the college bar and that’s where it all started. That little hub around Duchy College and the friends I met there kick-started it for me.
Everything was supposed to be about the golf and then the music came along and I realised there were less rules involved so I went with that one instead.’
Growing up in Uffculme in Devon the singer was building up quite a name for himself on the local music scene long before he was spotted by a talent scout for The Voice, so by the time he hit our TV screens he was already a familiar face to many in the West Country having performed right across the region.
Playing at Hendra was an interesting gig because a lot of people still remembered me from The Voice,’ he tells me. But I actually sometimes now feel like it didn’t happen to me because it was a strange thing to go through - it seems like it happened to someone else. At the time I could tell I was doing it because I felt the nerves, but now I look back it’s like it happened to one of my mates. But then you get reminded every now and again when someone taps you on the shoulder and say, “were you on the...” and I’m like “yeah, I was”.’
The singer’s clean-cut surfer-cum-rocker look earned him a loyal following on the hit BBC TV show, which also saw him having the luxury of choosing which mentor he wanted to work with after both Tom Jones and will.i.am span their big red chairs around during the blind auditions.
He was eventually seduced by Sir Tom’s tale of singing with Elvis Presley, which saw him become a firm favourite during the first season of the show, making it all of the way to the quarter finals. His debut album Train Tracks followed shortly afterwards in November 2012.
Face to face, people have been very nice about The Voice,’ says. Most people seem to respect it and consider it to be something that you have been through that isn’t an easy thing to do. I know there are a lot of different views when you come to do something like that and I was probably one of those people who was rather sceptical about it.
I haven’t had a TV myself in my house for years, I wasn’t really ever thinking I would go down that route because I was playing a lot of music already and I was playing around Devon and Cornwall for ten years and I was developing my own material before The Voice came along.
It has some positives but it also has some baggage that comes with it as well. For a period of time after The Voice you discover you’re in this area where some people think they aren’t able to reach you – you’re in this area of confusion. What I wanted to do was write some good songs and go and play some festivals, but after The Voice there were some festivals that wouldn’t want you playing there. That was why I nearly didn’t do it. You soon learn afterwards that it is still better not to mention it sometimes, like when you want to go and play some of your own songs to a festival crowd, sometimes it is best not to mention The Voice because it makes them think “oh he has had help”.’
But more than three years on Adam has taken control of his own musical direction, and is honing his own electric guitar skills, while also working on a follow-up record – which is sure to come as welcome news to his loyal following of West Country fans.
I’m playing more electric guitar now than I ever have which is something I have wanted to do for years,’ he says, clearly keen to move forward. The work is starting to pay off – it’s just taken a little longer than it should have. Acoustic is what I have been doing longer and more of, but I want to create a band-like energy when I am on stage playing acoustic, but doing that without a band.
When I launched my last album I was gigging with a five piece band, now I have a new trio line up which I am hoping to launch soon which will be a new sound, and means I have to play a lot more guitar – I have to work harder basically. I am excited about that and am hoping to get out more next year on the festival circuit.’
While he may have been apprehensive about gigging at Hendra he soon realised he had a free reign over his performances. I was playing every week for seven weeks, but I was really pleased with that because it meant if there were some waves I could go and do some surfing - and luckily there were some waves,” he said.
So is it these sorts of benefits of living in the West Country that have prevented him from being lured to the bright lights of London? I know a lot of people and bands that have gone to London but I have never wanted to live there or dedicate my life to the London music scene because there are so many people there doing it that you just become a number,’ he says. “I think it is refreshing to go there every once in a while when you want to.
Maybe it is better to do it on a smaller scale and actually write the songs you want to write in a way that you want to and enjoy doing that. You don’t have to be famous to enjoy it, but when a really nice gig does come along you know it was really worth doing it. You appreciate it all the more when it comes around.
I like the West Country because you have beaches in all directions, I like to go in the sea and surf when I can – I would like to be better. I am just happy to have that kind of lifestyle, but if I go to London I think I would miss that if it was for any period of time. I just like the feel of living down here.’