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Posted: 8:59 am Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
‘Idol’ bits: show changes, James Durbin, ‘X Factor’

James Durbin was part of the last “Idol’ season which saw an increase in ratings: season 10. He was the rock dude on a show that has had a relative paucity of real rockers. He is the only singer to date who had the cojones to perform Judas Priest.

But Durbin, who is performing Saturday at the Masquerade, has gone more pop-rock in his latest record called “Celebrate,” set to drop in April.

“I don’t want to stay in the same niche,” Durbin said in a recent interview. “I’m tired of being angry.” And he wrote most of this record, which is different from his first one.

“It’s definitely more of where I am as a person right now,” Durbin added. “The proof is in the title. I’m in full celebration every moment because, ‘Why not?’ Look around you. Look up in the sky. Look at the clouds. Clouds don’t make mistakes. Why do I have to make mistakes? Why do I have to beat myself over things that don’t matter.”

Durbin, who has been married for two years and lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., said the one year after “Idol’ was a whirlwind but not all in a good way. “I was uprooted from my nest, my family, my home, my son and fiance,” he said. “I was put in Hollywood with designer clothes and designer amenities. I had a chauffeur, five-star dining, massages, facials and pedicures. Then I returned home.”

When reality hit home as well, he felt like a loser. “I was really f**** in my head,” he said. It took some time for him to right himself to “label my own success by my own standards,” not that of Chris Daughtry or Carrie Underwood.

He said the album cover says it all. He’s not “on a backlot staring at the ground wearing a big trenchcoat. I’m instead on the beach. There’s a sunset. I just wear my heart a little differently these days.”

“I’m just really happy,” he added. “I want to tour. I wrote a really killer record. I can’t wait for people to hear it.”

He said he owes it to “Idol” to keep tabs and give it props. He wouldn’t badmouth last season. (You can leave that to a lot of other people.) He’s a fan of Keith Urban. “He’s an amazing songwriter, a cool guy. Seems like a good person to get drunk with and jam into the night.” J. Lo? “Like a surrogate mother.” Connick? “A very very smart man who knows a ton about music and the music industry. That’s really needed on the show.”

Durbin enjoyed how Connick parried with Randy Jackson last year when he was mentoring. “He understands that songs don’t need to have all those frills on them. They’re written that way. That’s what makes them special. You could lose that fascination with it if you change it too much.”

In concert James Durbin 7 p.m. Saturday January 18, 2014 $18 Masquerade 695 North Ave., Atlanta