"I was really proud to get to the Grand Final and in very good company – I’d had no idea who the other talent were, so I was kind of blown away," Axle tells WHO. "To get in touch with my inner bogan was just so much fun and to see what I could bring to the character was cool. I loved playing the Mullet."
The actor, singer and former TV presenter was "pumped" to be back on-stage - returning to his roots after beginning his career on Australian Idol in 2003.
"Doing the Masked Singer definitely helped me grow as a performer, and it certainly made me fall in love with music again," he admits.
"It's a singing competition, but the producers did remind me to just have fun with the character. Compared to some of the other masks, I just had a lot more freedom and movement – it’s just the physics of the thing. So that allowed me to dance and take on the character and have as much fun as possible."
Returning to his creative profession after months at home throughout the pandemic, Axle says it's "refreshing" to perform on stage again.
"There’s this sort of anonymity that you have wearing the mask. I found I could sort of take risks as a performer and try things that I’d never done before. Like, I’m not a big dancer, but to have an incredible choreographer who was looking after the stage work, I learnt a hell of a lot," he tells us.
"And, like Anastacia and Em said, everyone’s had a hard time during Covid. As a performer, it was such a pleasure and such an honour, really, to be able to do what we love right now. To get out there and be part of such a wild, crazy show, too, it was just extraordinary."
Sparking a flame of creativity in the star, Axle was inspired to get back to work in the studio.
"Doing The Masked Singer definitely helped me grow as a performer, and it certainly made me fall in love with music again. I’ve just released a single called One Gun and it’s a sort of soul-country track," he reveals.
With more new music to come, Axle says he's been using the down-time during Covid to work on his craft - and enjoy the quiet life with his fiancé Liezl Carstens.
"Luckily, we moved to a country town outside of Melbourne, so there’s been lots of outdoorsy farming work, raising animals and that sort of stuff. So, that’s been a really healthy sort of way to spend our time during Covid," the 40-year-old star says.
Becoming engaged in early 2020, the couple are yet to plan their nuptials. Though, Axle insists, they're in no rush.
"My partner is South African originally and has been in the states for 20 years. So, the plan was to go back to South Africa to do something, but everything is on hold at the moment," he says.
"We were sort of thinking about a little engagement party or a small service and then the goal post just gets moved. So, at this stage I think it’s safest just to hold off - and there’s no rush."
"We’re loving being in the country and spending time together, raising animals and all the rest of it. As long as we’re together having a good time, that’s the main thing."
While they've enjoyed a quieter life in the country over the past year, Axle has been able to "bunker down in the studio" to work on new music and learn new skills.
He also took on a recurring role on Aussie soap Neighbours in 2020, playing the part of Zenin Alexio. It came after he'd spent several years in the US, with roles in Shameless and Agents of SHIELD.
Admitting it's tough to be an actor at the best of times, Axle acknowledges the impact of the pandemic on the industry he loves. Though, he's feeling positive about the recent influx of projects coming over to Australia from La La Land.
"A lot of US productions have moved out here, which is really good for Aussie actors. Hopefully the work is coming through, because we’ve got some of the best crews, some of the best operators, directors, everything," he says. "People around the world are crazy not to come and work here."
From Isla Fisher to Margot Robbie and Chris Hemsworth, many of our Hollywood heavyweights got their start on Australian soaps just like Axle - who played Liam Murphy on Home and Away for four years.
The soaps have proven to be an effective training ground, with Australian actors regularly applauded for their outstanding work ethic when they travel over to the US – something many have attributed to the fast-paced schedules and team-based efforts of shows like Home and Away and Neighbours.
"We are some of the hardest working people and we just get on with it, it’s a very strong commodity," Axle says.
"What I found really interesting in the states is that there’s a real protocol. If you have a specific job as a grip, lighting technician or whoever else, you do that job and you don’t cross over into any other department," Axle reveals.
"In Australia, we don’t have that in my experience, everyone gets in and gets the job done. As an actor, if you can get in and help the crew on location, there’s this mentality that we’re all in it together and working on a similar goal – it’s like being part of a winning football team or something, you know?"
The star says it's this mentality that makes Australian actors and crew members so desirable to Hollywood execs.
"There’s just this tight unity that we all want to work really hard and get the job done, get home to our loved ones at the end of the day, and that really seems to have transpired around the world. Aussies are known for it."
As the world continues to return to some sense of 'normal' the opportunities are sure to begin growing once more for Australian actors. But, for now, the star is happily keeping his attention on his music.
"I sort of juggle between music and acting and they are two very different disciplines. Music was my first love and acting came later in my life," he says. "Right now it just feels great to be doing music, but I'll definitely be pursuing more acting roles in the future."