Noah Guthrie began his career posting covers to YouTube and his fans couldn’t get enough of them.
As his following grew – and he racked up more than 75 million views and 12 million Spotify streams – he was cast in television sensation, Glee, playing Roderick Meeks. Noah has gone on to open for the likes of Ed Sheeran, Selena Gomez, Neon Trees, Ben Rector, and Cobra Starship, and will release his solo album, The Valley, in June.
I spoke to Noah about the power of Glee, the freedom to produce his own music and his love for the fans who have followed him through it all.
I see you’re going to be in London from April 27 attending a Glee convention. Tell me, what does a Glee convention actually involve?
This is my first one, which is crazy. We figured that once the show wrapped I’d be doing a couple of them, but it just kinda never worked out time-wise. From what I understand, it’s a lot of standing, smiling and signing…it should be fun, I’ve had a lot of fans reach out. I’m excited to meet my fans there.
What has being on a show like Glee done for your career and exposure for your music?
It’s been great. When I got the Glee show, it was very random, very out of the blue for me. I’m not an actor, acting was not on my radar, so when they called me and asked me to audition for this part, I had to think about it for a little bit and finally decided to do it and it turned out great. It built my fanbase, I made some great friends, it was an amazing experience and I got to learn a bit of acting and just how TV works, which is a very fun experience.
How much have you grown in terms of performance since being on the show?
I got asked the other day if, when I got the Glee show, if I’d had any time to do acting lessons, but I really didn’t. It was very much just kind of throw you in to the process and learn how to act, so just doing that and being around that world, definitely taught me some lessons, that’s for sure. The whole show wrapped almost a year and a half ago, so we’re done.
Do you now feel a sense of freedom that you have the time to work on your own solo projects now?
Yeah, when I got the show, I had to put music aside for a minute. I already had a first album out and we’d been touring that for a couple of years and we were literally about to start on the second record and then I got Glee, so I had to kind of put it to the side, and that’s not easy to do when music is your passion. So, when Glee ended, I did a little more touring and then said, okay, I need to be at home so I can write more and finish up a new record, and we’ve finally done it.
Congratulations! What direction did you end up taking album number two?
Thank you! For me, I’ve always had an Americana sound and this one has kind of solidified that a little more. Some of the material’s a little darker sounding in tone and production, and for me, most of it is just a little more mature than the last record, it’s been a few years and I’ve had a little more experience in the field. I’ve just grown a little bit as a musician, and as a person, and hopefully this reflects that.
Will it be a surprise to your core fanbase?
It’s hard to say. I’ve had a lot of Glee fans show up at shows since then and I’ve been playing this original music for a while. I don’t think it’s too much of a shock to them. When I was on the show, they gave me a lot of the more soulful songs and the soulful aspect of my voice kind of transitions into any kind of genre that I do, so, if they loved that on the show, then they’ll like it in the album, that’s the general idea.
Is the plan that as you grow, you now have the chance to take the fanbase on a different journey?
Absolutely. And, so far, most of the fans I know of that came from Glee, have already kind of followed me into this next journey and anything I’m releasing on social media, they tend to enjoy it. I’ve also had really loyal and, overall, just nice fans, very encouraging fans, so I’m very lucky for that.
What was your character, Roderick’s message on Glee?
My character, which was almost a reiteration of what I was in high school, was a chubby, shy misfit, who was a senior and still didn’t have a place to fit in. When he opened his mouth and started singing, he just kind of found his people, and that was kind of me in high school. I was a shy kid and a chubby kid and, while I wasn’t really bullied, I definitely got picked on a fair amount and that all changed when I started opening up and saying I play music. And I found the right group of friends for me, right? So, I definitely connect with it and I’ve had some people write in who have gone through the same thing, so that’s a very special moment to really relate to the character and also relate to the people who relate to the character.
Even though you never thought you would take this path, it seems you’ve had the opportunity to help a lot of people through that character?
Well yeah, that’s the hope, and I think you can put a lot of pressure on yourself, but if you try to portray it honestly to who you think the character is…And the writers on that show were fantastic at getting to know us as real people and kind of playing to our strengths as to what we think and what we sound like and how we talk, so to a certain degree, I really was kind of playing myself, just definitely without the wardrobe! The wardrobe was not at all what I would wear.
Prior to all of this you’d been uploading music videos to YouTube. How did those beginnings help form your current career?
I got my start on YouTube a few years back doing cover videos doing songs I liked, and songs I didn’t like, but wanted to reshape. I had some good luck with that, I had some very good fans who continued to stick with me and we’ve been very fortunate to be able to grow this fanbase for, I guess it’s been about six or seven years now. They’ve stuck with me the whole way. I did a PledgeMusic campaign for my last album and I’ve had people write in and say, I’ve been with you since you put this cover out…how amazing is it that you can have this connection with people and enjoy what you do so much that they’re willing to stick with you and spend money on you?
Could you imagine a career now without a platform like YouTube?
It’s such a hard question to answer, because YouTube has been such a big part of my life. I really don’t know because the market has changed, the music scene especially has changed. I’m very much a believer that you have to have a ground game and go out and play shows and connect with people on a face-to-face basis and we’ve been doing that for years now, it definitely helps. But I have no idea what it would be like without YouTube, it’s just such a strong platform for so many people.
You’ve opened for people like Ed Sheeran and Selena Gomez. What do those opportunities teach you?
Honestly, the opening slots I’ve had have usually been one-off, or two-off things. You do definitely learn, when you’re playing for someone’s built-in crowd, little stage things, and I have learnt you can go from a five person audience to a 2000 person audience and the mantra of just being honest with people and trying to connect to people and talk to them like they’re you’re friend (is important). Like, I don’t have a persona on stage. Some artists do and that works great for them, but for my kind of music it just works better. So, I kinda learnt that any stage you’re on, you just gotta be honest with people and tell them what you’re feeling and hopefully you can make them feel better or add to their joy.
Christina Grimmie was a close friend of yours and you’d released videos of you both singing together over the years. What was it like performing with her?
She was one of the good ones, you know? She just had nothing but love for everybody and it was just such a shock (when she died). I think it’s even more of a shock, just because that happened to her at a venue that I would play at, or any of our friends would play at, it wasn’t a hugely iconic venue, it’s some club in Florida, and it’s just crazy the things that can happen. (As a performer) she was game for anything. She was not at all timid – her herself was very shy and very kindhearted, but very quiet and reserved, much like myself – but when it came to her music, she knew what she could do with her voice and she would just go for it. She knew her strengths, she knew her weaknesses and she would just really, really go for it and just convince anyone she was singing for that, hey, I’m the person you should be listenening to, but without this selfishness that comes with that sometimes. She just had this positive energy that she would just spread to everybody.
Noah Guthrie’s album The Valley will be released in June. Listen to I Would Die 4 You below: