For the multi-talented singer-songwriter, actor (and dancer), John Schneider, telling stories is in his DNA. The same can also be said for his amazingly talented and beautiful “Dancing With The Stars” partner, Emma Slater. The couple’s innate ability to weave deep layers of emotion into their routine is a big reason why they’ve done so well on the popular ABC series this season.
As Schneider continues his whirlwind run in the competition, he’s also busy promoting his new music single, “Devil In The Mirror,” as well as his John Schneider App. A portal which gives fans access to all of his events and social media as well as a one-stop shop for his music and merchandise.
AXS recently spoke with Schneider about what it’s like being on “Dancing With The Stars”, his new single and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: What’s it been like working with Emma Slater this season on “Dancing With The Stars?”
John Schneider: It’s been great. Emma’s a storyteller, just like me. Once we started to gel, she started thinking about songs where we could tell great stories. She really went out of her way to find the right song, the right movement and mood for “Smile” (our recent dance) so that we could tell the story about me missing my mother but finding my smile at the same time. It’s not always about the dancing. It’s about what you’re saying, and telling stories is in her soul.
AXS: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about dancing?
JS: All of them are different, so it’s about technique and frame. You’ve got to keep your frame rigid and that boils down to keeping your elbows up, especially in the Waltz. You have to look like you have a broom handle stretching elbow to elbow straight across your back. It always feels like I’m doing it but when I look back at the video my elbows are not up. For me, it’s a lot like golf. If you get too comfortable with your swing, chances are it’s wrong.
AXS: How does dancing in front of so many people compare to performing music or acting?
JS: The assumption everyone has is that the nerves kick in when you get to Monday night and all of the people, but that’s actually when I feel most comfortable. In this case, comfort is really not my friend because comfort equals “elbows down”. But what we did this past Monday night was beautiful. I know this because they have about a hundred stagehands constantly moving stuff around and working their butts off. After our dance, I noticed several of them were crying. That to me is more important than technique. I’m not designed to be a perfect, technical dancer. I’m designed to connect to an audience. So, when I see a 52-year-old man in a black t-shirt crying underneath a light after I did a dance, I know I did something important and touched someone. Our job is to entertain and make you feel something for a certain amount of time, and for that I’m grateful.
AXS: What’s the biggest challenge of doing the show?
JS: The hardest part is managing the schedule. Emma and a segment producer have to come out on the road and meet me in Dallas or Nashville or wherever I happen to be doing a concert. Along with the show comes press in the morning, followed by a five-hour rehearsal and then a flight back to L.A. for the show.
AXS: What are the rehearsals like?
JS: It’s an intense and immersive process. It’s the only thing I can think of where you have six days to be the best at something you will ever be. Then you do it one time and it’s gone. There’s no getting used to it.
AXS: Let’s switch gears and talk about your new single, “Devil In The Mirror.” What can you tell me about it?
JS: It’s a great song and a throwback to the music I listened to when I was a kid. It’s a little Lynyrd Skynyrd, a little Allman Brothers and a little bit like the Eagles’ “Life In The Fast Lane”. I remember when we were recording the bridge and the engineer broke out the phase shifter. Whenever that part comes around it’s like I’m back in high school again.
AXS: Are there any other projects you’re working on right now?
JS: I’ll be playing a few concerts the rest of this year and the plan is to book a hundred more dates for next year. But what’s important right now is my new John Schneider App. It’s available for iPhone and Android and is the key for people to have access to all of my music and movies. We’ve spent six months developing the App to be a great portal for everything that we’re doing. It’s not just a single record, t-shirt or movie. With this free app, it’s all of them!
AXS: What are you most looking forward to about these next few weeks of competition?
JS: I’m really enjoying learning a new dance every week. And a new dance means new music and a new story to tell. Every dance brings with it a whole new set of dance steps and new culture from a whole new part of the world. I’m looking forward to the experience of continuing to learn something new.