The stage lights on FOX’s hit talent show “The X Factor” may have gone out, but not for Gilroy teen and former contestant Austin Corini.
During the course of the televised competition, Austin, a 16-year-old Christopher High School junior, was placed with four other contestants to compete as a group called Playback. The newly formed boy band made it to the top 28, but was ultimately sent home without the $5 million recording contract grand prize.
“I was really sad to leave the show,” Austin said Monday. “But I want to use this great experience to move forward and continue on with my music career.”
“Playback” will perform live in Nashville, Tenn. this March, but prior to that they will be gracing Gilroyans with good musical vibes during their first post- “X Factor” reunion concert. The group will spend this week shooting music videos somewhere in the Garlic Capital, recording a new song and performing Saturday at the 9Lives Club downtown.
Although the “X Factor” collapsed its tents and moved on Dec. 20 after crowning its winner – country singer Tate Stevens, 37 – Austin and his fellow Playback members decided to reunite and perhaps take another shot at the big time. If one thing’s for sure, the teen heartthrobs’ loyal fan-base has only continued to skyrocket.
“When I first did ‘X Factor,’ I had 1,200 Twitter followers, and I was really hoping to hit 1,300,” Austin said. “Now I have 40,000.”
The group wonders to what heights their fame and talent can take them as they consider auditioning again – this time as a unit – for the upcoming season three of “The X Factor” in March 2013.
“We’re not sure, and we still need to discuss it (auditioning again),” Austin added. “It was a great experience performing in front of so many people.”
The Gilroy teen said he is grateful for all of the encouragement and support his community has given him. Fans still stop him on the street and in restaurants for autographs, and he was asked to be the grand marshal of the downtown Gilroy Christmas parade this year.
“The parade was great, it was an honor,” Austin said. “So many people came out, bought t-shirts and showed their support. I really appreciate how my fans have stuck by us even though there has been a stretch of time since they saw us on the show.”
The 16-year-old singer – recognizable for his signature bleached-blonde faux hawk – admitted that returning to the daily grind of high school in August was somewhat of a culture shock after experiencing the whirlwind of celebrityhood.
“People would crowd around me asking questions,” he recalled. “It has slowed down now, so I am finally able to get to class on time. It has been fine – a little weird – but fine coming back to school.”
Austin’s mother, Jeanine Corini, emphasized how supportive and helpful CHS Principal John Perales was when her son started school this year.
“He told Austin that at any time he could come camp out in his office if he needed a safe place to be,” Jeanine said. “He was determined to make sure Austin had a safe and comfortable experience being back at school.”
At this point, Austin isn’t sure if a solo career or staying with the group is the right course for the future.
“I will have to pray about it,” he said. “It’s hard to say right now what will happen.”
Relying on prayer for guidance is something that continues to direct the teen as he makes decisions about his fast-evolving career.
“When I first knew I wanted to audition for ‘X Factor’ I prayed about it and talked it over with my parents. They thought I was too young and advised me to wait until I was 18. I trust them so I dropped the idea for season two,” Austin explained.
But fate – or perhaps divine intervention – set the Corini family on track for a different course.
“Then the ‘X-Factor’ executive producer called us,” Jeanine said Monday, relaying the story of what happened. “They saw Austin performing on a YouTube video and asked if he would be willing to send in an audition video – nothing produced with effects, just with a laptop in the living room – and send it in. They wanted him to bypass the regular audition channels and put him right in front of the four judges. What are the odds, especially after we had already told him to wait?”
As a result of that homemade video, Austin opened the North Carolina audition show, and thus began his surreal journey from Gilroy to stardom.
“Playback” will be performing an all-ages show at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the 9Lives Club, located at 7430 Monterey St. in Gilroy. Tickets for $10 will be available at the door.