Durbin on Rob Halford, Mick Mars and Carrying the Metal Torch
Sure, most people know James Durbin as the golden-voiced contestant who dared to bring heavy metal to the ‘American Idol’ stage. But now, instead of impressing Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, he’s impressing the likes of Judas Priest singer Rob Halford and Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars.
We recently had the pleasure of hosting an acoustic set by Durbin at the offices of Loudwire and its sister site PopCrush, and what we found out is that this young rocker is the real deal. With no mic and accompanied by a couple of members of his band on acoustic guitar, Durbin sang to us as if he were singing to a television audience of 25 million. And he rocked the house. (Check out the exclusive videos below for proof.)
With his debut album, ‘Memories of a Beautiful Disaster,’ set to drop on Nov. 21 and a single ‘Stand Up‘ making waves at rock radio, Durbin sat down with Loudwire to talk about working with Judas Priest, signing to a rock label and, for lack of a better phrase, shooting the s–t with Mick Mars:
We interviewed Judas Priest
frontman Rob Halford recently and he told us the reason Priest decided
to appear on ‘American Idol’ with you was because you
had “something really special” and are a “real metalhead,”
What does it mean to you to hear compliments from someone like Rob
I hope I can relive it in the sense that I can do something else with Rob like maybe sing on a tribute album to him or sing on his next solo record or if Priest does another record it would be unbelievable to be a part of that or just perform live with them again or just hang out, go get lunch and hang out like buds. That’s just what I get from them; Rob’s been sober since ’86 and I really respect that, being sober period, and especially being sober at the height of when every single band was using and abusing. [Laughs] I just blabbered about Rob.
You signed with Wind-up
Records and that’s home to Seether, Evanescence and a lot of
rock acts. Was that a conscious decision to tell the world that you
are first and foremost a rock ‘n’ roller?
Wind-up is definitely more of a family. It’s something that I really wanted to be involved with, when I saw that and I saw the artists that are signed to them have been with them, the artists that are there, it seems like there’s ethics there, it’s not just, “Here we’re promoting sex, drugs and violence and rock ‘n’ roll,” it doesn’t have to come with the territory. So Wind-up was a perfect fit.
You worked with Mick Mars
on the song ‘Outcast’ off your debut album, ‘Memories
of a Beautiful Disaster.’ Tell us a little about what that experience
Oh my God, Mick Mars man! The first thing he did actually was he said hi to my son Hunter [who is] two and a half. And I was just like yeah man he’s cool, he likes the kids. By the end of the day he was like Grandpa Mick. Hunter kept walking up to him when he was recording guitar, getting his tone or something, he’d walk in the room with his toy and he’d be all, “Mit Mars, Mit Mars.” Actually, a couple weeks ago, Motley Crue was on TV and he’s like, “Daddy, Mit Mars, Mit Mars!” It was so cute. Mick’s unbelievable. He just totally made that song.
The base of the song was
written by my favorite band Hardcore Supersta; they’re from
Sweden, unbelievable, unbelievable band. My main goal was, they’re
not well known over here, not at all, nobody knows who they are but
they’re super popular over there, so to get the word out about
Hardcore Superstar and have them write on the record. It’s a
very awesome song, it’s very tongue and cheek but it’s
just got that cool essence about it. Mick totally made the song what