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Ever-Changing Idol: David Cook explores new ground on ‘Gimme Heartbreak’


Season seven American Idol winner David Cook has never followed the rules.

Just when he established himself in the pop-rock genre in 2011 with This Loud Morning, he made a 90-degree turn to more upbeat, danceable music on 2015’s Digital Vein.

“Even when I was a kid, I wasn’t into the paint-by-numbers stuff,” says Cook, who plays the Musical Instrument Museum on Saturday, September 2. “For me, it’s more exciting to have a blank canvas and figure out a new way to take the image out of your head and put it on paper.”

Cook has segued again, this time to an almost EDM feel with the single “Gimme Heartbreak,” the lead track on an upcoming, as-of-yet untitled EP, which is planned for the fall.

“With Digital Vein, it felt like a bookend to that decade,” says Cook, whose parents winter in Scottsdale. “This new stuff, the new EP and the new single, it feels like a new chapter. I’m influenced a lot by the newer cinematic pop stuff that was coming out, the darker stuff, like Halsey, mixed with the Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack influences I’ve always carried with me.

“I ended up with this sound and songs that I’m really, really excited about. Now I’m just chomping at the bit to get this EP out as soon as possible.”

He admits that some of his fans were shocked by the new sound.

“I kept it pretty close to the vest for a while,” he adds. “Now that it’s out there in the world, it’s been great. Time will tell, though, when I go on tour and play these songs for people. That’s the real litmus test. You get immediate feedback.”

When he plays the MIM, he’ll only pepper in new songs, as he doesn’t want to give away the EP yet.

“There are a couple other tracks that we may unveil on this run,” Cook says. “Other than that, the show will be a mixture of back catalog stuff and a cover here or there that people haven’t heard before. We want to keep it fresh and fun. It’ll be intriguing how it’ll all shake out.”

Cook’s musical evolution has kept him interested in and inspired by music.

“Being a musician, you never really reach the top of the mountain,” he says. “It’s always about moving forward and pushing that boulder up the hill. The newer stuff is a different challenge for me. I’m really excited with the results and being able to really attack the recording process a different way, finding new sounds and things I can internalize and go out and perform.”

Fans can preorder the EP via PledgeMusic and receive the AccessPass, which will give them early access to digital downloads, artist updates and more. Listeners can also purchase exclusive merchandise and experiences direct from Cook. These include a personalized postcard from Cook; handwritten lyric sheet for the song of their choice; an official EP-themed 3-D viewfinder; a flash drive containing unheard songs; behind-the-scenes photos and artist artwork; and the opportunity to have lunch with Cook in Nashville. For more information, visit pledgemusic.com/davidcook.

He hopes that when the EP comes out, fans will enjoy his ever-evolving style.

“I’ve gotten more comfortable with songwriting and it’s allowed me to feel comfortable about trying different things,” he says. “I used to stick to a narrative where I had a beginning, middle and end to the story.

“With ‘Gimme Heartbreak,’ I wrote almost unconsciously. I think it allowed for more imagery, which I’m really excited about. I have the ability to say something people have heard before in a different way. That’s been fun, musically trying different thing. I know I won’t feel stagnant, in terms of writing, going forward.”

David Cook, Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, 480.478.6000, mim.org, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 2, $38.50-$48.50.