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American Idol’s James Durbin Talks Cheeky

Durbin Discusses Songwriting, Domino's Pizza and Conan O'Brien

by Kristen Mitchell – January 20, 2012

After a successful run on Season 10 of American Idol, James Durbin is out with a new album and he’s ready to rock. Cheeky sat down with James to talk about his recent album release, his life after Idol and his end-of-the-month show at Austin’s Saloon in Libertyville.

Cheeky: You were down to the wire on American Idol Season 10. Tell us about your journey onto the show.

James Durbin: Well, I was working for Domino’s Pizza at the time in my hometown of Santa Cruz. One day they brought us into the back office and told us, “We have no money whatsoever. We’re bankrupt.” So, I had no job come Sunday and American Idol tryouts were two days away. I was pretty surprised about losing my job and then I remembered that the Idol auditions were that week. It was a blessing and a curse.

Cheeky: And what have you been up to since finishing American Idol?

JD: I’ve been on a promo tour—just playing a few gigs here and there promoting my recent album [Memories of a Beautiful Disaster]. It came out on November 21—Black Friday.

Cheeky: What was it like making Memories of a Beautiful Disaster?

JD: I drew a lot of the songs from life experiences in general. I’ve had great things happen and then not so great, but that’s what makes us who we are. The process of making the album and recording it was a lot of fun actually. I found that I work very well under what would be stressful situations.

Cheeky: What song off the album do you enjoy playing the most?

JD: “Love in Ruins”… It’s got a very throwback, classic rock feel. My other favorite song to sing is called “Crawling Home.” It didn’t make the record, but it was released as a pre-order bonus track on iTunes. Hopefully, we’ll be able to re-release it.

Cheeky: Is there anyone you worked with on the album that you were really excited about?

JD: I got to work with Mick Mars (Mötley Crüe)—he’s a class act…great guy—Producer Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Buck Cherry, Ozzy), James Michael (Sixx A.M)… Just really great writers. It was a world that I’d never really been in before. There are so many great songwriters out there and I was working with some of the best.

Cheeky: What was the songwriting process like working with the talent you just mentioned?

JD: I co-wrote about four or five songs and the others were written for me, about me and with me in mind. Co-writing was a fun thing to do and I enjoyed the creative process of it. I find it’s a little easier to co-write than it is to write on my own. When I write on my own, I get frustrated if I can’t get things down the right way. With someone else, you both have the same vision for the song, so it’s kind of like an extra brain.

Cheeky: You played on Conan O’Brien last week. How was that?

JD: Playing on Conan was a dream come true. I never imagined that I would be able to perform on a late-night talk show or talk shows in general. I’ve had the privilege of performing on Leno and Ellen, but Conan was it for me… it was like… “I’ve made it.” I was very honored and very privileged to have been on his show. He knows his stuff and it was fun to watch their rehearsal before they filmed. It would be interesting to look inside of his mind and walk around for a couple of hours.

Cheeky: What’s next for you?

JD: I’ve got another music video coming out. This one’s for the song “Stand Up,” a rock single, and the video comes out on January 24. There’ll be a regular version of the video and then we have a sports version for the NFL that will be on I’m also really excited to come play Chicago [January 27]. Chicago was really good to me when I played on the American Idol Live Tour and I’m excited to see what it brings this year.

Be sure to check out future tour dates and merchandise on James’ website, follow him on Twitter and visit his fan page on Facebook.