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James Durbin

Erik LeDuc
Posted: 05/12/2012 12:10:10 PM MDT

American Idol rocker comes to Carlsbad

Carlsbad is about to be rocked by two bands from the sands of California as James Durbin opens the Metal Shop Birthday Bash for Buckcherry.The bands have been on the road since April, touring through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Maryland and other states. Carlsbad, the only performance in New Mexico, marks the finish of the groups' tour at the Walter Gerrells Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. May 27.

"It's such a blast, I really look up to those guys," Durbin said of Buckcherry. The trip also had been "great inspiration" for Durbin and fellow band members, Blake Bunzel, Jeff Fabb, Tyler Molinaro and Dylan Rose, he said. "(Buckcherry's) performing and everything, they're such a great band, one of the first I saw live."

But Buckcherry's performance won't be the only time fans are rocked during the performance. Durbin's passion and voice, which attracted a huge following with his stellar performances during last year's American Idol, are something that leave their mark-though towering concert speakers will help drive the music home.

"I definitely don't reserve myself on stage, I try to give them everything," Durbin said. "That's how you get fans for life, you've got to give them a reason to come back, you've got to give them a reason to tell other people." His bandmates were a huge asset to this, he added. "These are some of the best, if not the best, young, up-and- coming musicians," he said. "Everyone in the band has such amazing energy, on stage or off."

Though the band is spending its first season as openers, Durbin said it was a good place to start. "It's a learning experience, everything you do in life is such a learning experience, and this is no different. We're the underdog here, we really have to give people a reason to come back to see us," he said.

"Rock and roll's all about respect. You've got to earn respect, that's why I'm so happy our first tour is with Buckcherry. You've got to earn and learn, I'm here to earn respect of the fans and learn so much about all of this. When the big boys come knocking to perform at a stadium or arena, we're going to be there."

The key to earning the honest respect of his fans was to perform "music for the love of it," he added. That drive and his incredible voice are part of what has brought him this far. Durbin, who hails from Santa Cruz, Calif., first put himself on the map during the 10th season of American Idol with a riveting fourth-place finish amidst canned pop and country that left fans wanting more of Durbin.

Following his Idol exposure, he put out his debut album, "Memories of a Beautiful Disaster," which shot up to number 10 on iTunes in April.

But even before he was on stage under cameras, Durbin was soaking up the limelight in theater performances.

"You're basically taking on a different life," he said. Among the many roles he played during his years of youth theater, one role stood out as his favorite, he said. "I became the characters for so long. Tony from 'West Side Story' is a humble guy, a really humble guy who's in love, and that's how I feel."

Taking on other lives and watching the glory of others helped Durbin throughout his childhood, he said. A victim of bullying, Durbin said he discovered World Wrestling Entertainment first as an outlet, then as an ally.

"I saw these superheroes, these Norse gods, these mythical creatures just duking it out," he said. "Each and every one of these guys could have been bullied while growing up, WWE inspired me."

Since his appearance on American Idol, Durbin said he became involved with an anti-bullying campaign, 'be a STAR,' which also is supported by WWE. His first involvement with the campaign happened in Miami, where Durbin spoke to area students and encouraged them not to give up or give in.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "You should be able to live your life the way that you want."