James Durbin is a fighter with the heart of a lover. He has managed to not let personal struggles hold him back and has had success with the theater group Kids On Broadway and with American Idol. It doesn't even matter that he was voted off in the top 4 because he releases his debut Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster today, so the sky is the limit for Durbin. We spoke with the man behind the music about recording his album, American Idol, and his dream collaborations.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): America wants to know: Ryan Seacrest–shoe lifts or no lifts?
James Durbin: No, he definitely doesn't have lifts. He's shorter than my fiancé.
Just checking. So you tried out for American Idol before but you weren't selected. What did you do differently the second time around?
I had someone who was coaching me and they only prepared me to sing one song. I sang “Faithfully” by Journey and they asked to hear another song and I didn't have one prepared. So, that was my demise. It's a damn good thing that I knew that because at the next audition I was asked to sing six songs. I had to pull a couple out of my ass on that one–that's almost a whole album!
After you got voted off, the general reaction on the Internet was that you were robbed. Did that help ease the pain?
I guess so. I think the main thing that helped was the love and support of my family and my friends. My fiancé Heidi and my son Hunter–they're always going to be there for me. It was definitely not going to be the end; it was just the beginning.
Did any of the American Idol judges give you advice that you took into consideration when recording your new album?
One of the main things that Steven Tyler said was to stay crazy and stay who you are. I tried to keep as much of that as possible in the songs.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
I'd say Steven Tyler or Jared Leto. I think I'd learn so much with working with either one of them. I'm a big fan.
Did you get to talk to Steven Tyler about doing something with him in the future?
I did not, but one of the songs on my album barely made it. Actually, it's a bonus track called “Crawling Home.” We weren't going to use it but then Steven heard it and really liked it so we ended up putting it on there.
Nice! How would you describe your sound in three words?
Real, raw, and unpredictable. I don't like all of the flashy drum machines and that sort of thing. It's just real music. It's something you can actually listen to and feel something, like true emotion. You don't get that by listening to some stuff.
Do you write your own music?
Yeah, some of it. I co-wrote four tracks on the record and then one bonus track. I'm always working on new stuff. I have a handful of new ideas on the backburner right now.
Which song are you going to release next?
I don't know, I think I'm going to leave it up to the fans. They know what they want!
Speaking of your fans, what can they look forward to next?
I have my band together so we're practicing and getting ready to plan a tour. Hopefully late January or February. We're actually in talks for something super huge that is a million times huger than us, and they haven't said no yet. So there's hope!
How do you plan on celebrating the release of your first album, Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster?
I'm doing a signing in downtown Santa Cruz at Streetlight Records and will be selling t-shirts that I designed. I'll be down there for like, three or four hours, signing, saying hello to my fans, and taking pictures. I hope this can be dubbed as “Durbin Day Part Two.” It'll be cool.
James Durbin's Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster is out now on Wind-Up Records.