John Rich "loved" Third Town's Austin audition, according to the trio, which also characterized the Nashville Star sixth-season judge and mentor's subsequent oncamera criticism of them as a ploy to boost viewership.

"I got to tell you I think it's ratings," Third Town member James "Little Tony" Kouns told reporters during a Tuesday conference call. 

"We auditioned in Austin and he freaked out, asked me to sing the same note I did again and he goes, 'My god, when Rascal Flatts hears you guys, they're going to freak out.  You are the best thing I've seen the entire audition process. You must come to Nashville now.' That's the direct quote. And then we got to Nashville week, he's in front of the cameras and switches. And we're like, 'We get it.'"

Not all of Third Town's members apparently got Rich's attitude switch, which came before the Las Vegas-based trio was booted from Nashville Star's sixth season during Monday night's live broadcast.

"I didn't get it. I tell you what, I didn't get it at all. I was just confused," Tony Mosti told reporters.  "I was confused because he just loved us to death in Austin. And then he just all of a sudden, he just didn't like us. And we couldn't figure out what we did to offend him."

Regardless of what they did to offend Rich, it caused Third Town to be left out of Nashville Star's original sixth-season Top 12 until hopeful Charla Corn was removed from the competition on the eve of the show's first performance episode taping on June 2.

"We got the phone call around 8:15PM the night prior. We were two hours behind. They started rehearsing at 9:00AM the day of. So literally, 8:30 I was on the road, 11:00PM Vegas time, I was on a plane.  We all flew out. We had a non-stop flight. We didn't sleep. We went straight to the rehearsals, no shower," Kouns told reporters.  "It was unbelievable.  So we had been up a total of approximately 60 hours by the time our first note of 'Elvira' was sung."

Lucky for them, "Elvira" was a song they had previously learned for the Nashville Star callbacks.

"So we boned up on it. We already knew it. We knew we could pull it out.  So it was one of those, 'Do this one, all right cool, we know it. Great,'" said Kouns.

Despite the rushed manner in which the entire ordeal went down, Kouns said he was "ecstatic" after performing "Elvira" during the pre-taped premiere broadcast.

"I thought we performed our butts off. I thought we did great. We nailed all the notes," he told Reality TV World during the conference call. 

Third Town's third member Jeffrey Fairchild agreed.
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"We had been awake for 60 hours by the time we got there. So basically for all three of us, it was like a dream," Fairchild told Reality TV World. 

"By the time we performed Elvira, we had been awake for 60 hours.  So it felt like we did a great job. But, looking back at it, I could tell that we all looked really, really tired. Our eyes were puffy.  And the next morning whenever we woke up, we had to pinch ourselves because it just seemed like - it just all happened so fast."

Despite Third Town being happy with the way it turned out, Rich criticized their rendition of "Elvira" for lacking a "defining sound" and accused them of not having an identifiable lead singer.

"We're all three lead singers and that's what we do in our trio," Fairchild told reporters.  "Tony Mosti sang 'Elvira' and he sang the lead. He sang the solo by himself. And [Monday] night Little Tony, he sang the solo by himself. So it was pretty obvious who the lead singer was both weeks. So we really don't understand the concept of John Rich saying that he doesn't understand who the lead singer is because it's pretty evident."

Fairchild also had his own question for Rich.

"Who is the lead singer of Big & Rich?" he asked.  "On their tunes they're both right there and they're both right out there in the front."

The judges spared Third Town during the premiere broadcast and instead booted Charley Jenkins.  Third Town then wanted to perform Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" Monday night until they switched to Alabama's "Mountain Music."

Even though it was proceeded by their ouster, Fairchild said the trio has no regrets about the decision.

"We're not sorry at all. Little Tony absolutely sings that song - he's good.  He's amazing on that song. And whenever we found out that we could do that song, we freaked out. We were like, 'Oh my gosh,'" said Fairchild.  "However that song is like seven minutes and the arrangement that they did on that song, it did not represent the song very well.  It was a minute and ten seconds and it was so bad that we all three refused to do it. And so that's why we went with 'Mountain Music.'"

Mosti said the group had home viewers in mind when making the decision to change tunes.

"We just thought it wouldn't be fair to America to have them hear such a cut up version of it. It didn't work," said Mosti.  "So we figured, 'This is NBC. This is Nashville Star.  This is one of the largest audiences we'll ever have. 'It's just not fair to America to say here you go, here's something that we don't believe in. So we wanted to show you something we believed in."

But it was too late, as Nashville Star host Billy Ray Cyrus eventually revealed Third Town had been booted based on home viewer votes cast immediately following the pre-taped premiere episode.

"When we got eliminated, they clapped really loud for [safe finalist] Melissa Lawson and nobody was looking at us," recalled Kouns. 

"That was one of the worst feelings of my whole life because I wanted to go, 'You know what, I've been doing this way too long for you guys not to know what I could do and I just never got a chance to show you guys what's going on.'  But I joined in with the clapping. I was like, 'Way to go.' At least it was right because I figured she'd win the whole thing."

Mosti described the group's Nashville Star experience as "the best the open mic night we could have ever had in our lives."

"The exposure that this show gave us, we're really hoping that just pushes us forward," said Fairchild.  "It was a great platform to showcase our talent for the entire world."

"We lost a lot of work just to be there," added Kouns.  "But it was all worth it."

Despite Kouns feeling that it was worth it, he said it wasn't exactly what he expected it to be.

"No matter what you go in there knowing, it's a reality television show. It's not real. It's reality TV," he said.  "I wasn't coming in fully ignorant but I wasn't coming in knowing most of what they would have us do or say.  It was not how we really felt for one second."

As for what's next, Third Town plans on returning to Vegas to cut a new album.  But before that, they'll be working with former American Idol sixth-season finalist Haley Scarnato.

"I know she's cutting her CD and we're going to be going in there and putting some backup vocals on it," said Fairchild.