CANTON REPOSITORY & RECORD COURIER

Return to David Cook

David Cook plenty busy a decade after winning ‘Idol’

By Dan Kane / The Canton Repository / GateHouse Media Ohio

Posted Oct 18, 2018 at 12:01 AM

In May 2009, David Cook had a sold-out concert scheduled at Musica in Akron, part of his first major tour since winning season seven of “American Idol.”

While Cook’s brother had died from cancer just a week before, Cook bravely went ahead and played the show, having to take a few emotional pauses but with plenty of crowd support.

“If that happened now, I might’ve canceled,” Cook said Tuesday. “Everything was moving forward at such a pace. I felt a responsibility to the people who bought tickets, and I wanted to honor my brother appropriately. To be honest, it was nice for me to have that break onstage.”

Nine years later, Cook, 35, continues to regularly tour the country, playing his original, guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll, although this year his career took a sharp left turn when he starred on Broadway in the hit musical “Kinky Boots.” (He has since been able to grow back his scruffy beard.)

On Nov. 2, Cook will take his latest acoustic tour to The Kent Stage, which was the reason for our phone conversation. Highlights follow.

1. What can you tell me about your acoustic concert in Kent?

“I’ve been fortunate to tour for the last decade, but I’ve typically gone out with a full band, electric guitars turned up and everything loud. This time, playing acoustic, I’m paring the songs down to their bare elements, trying to get into what they are about, breaking them down to their purest form. There’s less to hide behind, which is a little nerve-wracking. To fill the songs out a little bit, I’m touring with another guitarist and a percussionist. People who have been to my shows in the past know that I’m not shy about talking between songs, I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of getting to connect with the audience.”

2. What were you going for with the sound of your latest EP, “Chromance”?

″‘Chromance’ was an attempt to start a new chapter for myself, and an attempt to, I don’t know, maybe update the sound but to definitely make the guitar one more texture in the sonic landscape. I tried to challenge myself in the studio this time. (Played acoustically) I’m sure they’ll sound different, but that’s the fun of this tour. I want all of these songs to have different angles to them.”

3. You starred in a leading role on Broadway in “Kinky Boots.” Tell me about that experience.

“It’s such a great show and something I’d wanted to do. I had done theater in middle school and high school and got a theater scholarship for college that I ultimately gave up. Broadway was definitely a trial by fire. I use a teleprompter for lyrics at my shows, but there was no teleprompter on Broadway. I got through (my opening night) and I learned that every show is going to be a little different, which is part of the romance of live theater. Wayne Brady (playing the drag character Lola) and I were there at the same time and he was fantastic. Kirstin Maldonado from Pentatonix played Lauren. I was really nervous going into it, but I’ve made some of my best friends in ‘Kinky Boots.’”

4. How much of your fan base at this point is linked to “American Idol”?

“I still get people coming up to say they voted for me. I guess it sort of depends where we’re playing. Some people are still viewing me through that ‘Idol’ lens, but the last thing I am is indignant about it. I’m super humbled by the fact that I got to go through that process.”

5. You seem to be kind of a free agent these days, not tied to a record contract. Do you like that?

“I’d rather die by my own sword than live by somebody else’s. That’s been my artistic mantra since I picked up the guitar. I like being able to navigate where I go artistically. I want to be open and welcoming of any sort of life experience. I don’t want to be known for one thing.”