Return to David Cook

Singer David Cook brings darker sound to the Bartlett

Fri., Aug. 18, 2017, 12:38 a.m.

By Azaria Podplesky 

More than a decade after the release of his first solo album, singer David Cook is ready for a new chapter, if not an entirely new book.

For his upcoming EP, Cook looked both back to the angsty ’90s alternative artists like Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack that he grew up on and to synth-pop artists currently topping the charts like Halsey and Aurora.

He took the angst of the former and the dark, cinematic pop elements of the latter and infused them into the alt-rock songs fans have come to expect since Cook became won the seventh season of “American Idol” in 2008.

“It came down to really wanting to explore new things in the studio, try new sounds, new vibes and really see ultimately where it ended up,” Cook said from his rehearsal space in Nashville. “The result is a record that sonically is pretty different from anything I’ve done before but when people hear it, they’ll still hear me in it, which is always the goal.”

“Gimme Heartbreak,” the first single from the EP, which doesn’t yet have a release date, is dark and dramatic, balancing minimal instrumentation with a big chorus.

Cook is recording the EP with engineer and longtime friend Andy Skib, whom Cook said he trusts with everything from whether a song idea is interesting to where to go for lunch.

“Andy’s fingerprints are all over the EP, which is by design,” he said. “I trust his musical instinct. I trust his engineering instincts, and he makes me a better producer, he makes me a better songwriter, all those things.”

It remains to be seen how, if at all, this new sound will affect Cook’s live show, including his Sunday show at the Bartlett. At the few shows where he’s played material from the EP, he’s grouped the new songs together near the end of the set because he wanted there to be separation between the old and the new.

That placement could change, though.

“Moving forward, as we get the rest of the songs in pocket and ready for public consumption, the hope is that we can find ways to blend them in with the older material,” he said. “But if not, then we’ll continue to make it feel like its own thing, which, in truth, it kind of is.”

Like he did with his last full-length, “Digital Vein,” Cook used the crowdfunding website PledgeMusic to connect with fans while recording.

Fans who pre-order the EP get access to exclusive videos and, depending on the amount pledged, merchandise and experiences like a signed guitar, a personalized voicemail message, an executive producer credit on the EP and lunch with Cook in Nashville.

“To really be able to bring them in, in an in-depth way, and show them the inner workings of making a record, that’s a unique experience,” he said. “I’m a fan of artists and whenever you can peak behind the curtain and see those kind of things, it makes you want to invest in the artist that much more, so it seemed like a no-brainer for us.”

In the future, Cook plans to give his fans, who he said are “ridiculously supportive and loyal,” a peek behind the curtain no matter what endeavor he undertakes.

“I love the creative process so any way that I can get my hands dirty in the creative process I’m open to, whether that’s music or acting or painting or whatever,” he said. “In the future, I’m going to continue to double down on the creative process and try to bring whatever audience wants to hear it or see it along for the ride.”