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Interview with American Idol Rocker James Durbin + WIN a signed poster

Janelle Rominski – The Rock Stage

Talk about a whirlwind year! American Idol rocker and California native, James Durbin, played to a packed crowd at Austin’s Fuel Room in Libertyville over the weekend. Durbin came in 4th place on American Idol last season, mind you, his season premiered just over a year ago. He recently finished his American Idol LIVE tour all over the United States and Philippines. He’s performing a few smaller shows in preparation for his big spring and summer 2012 tour. Opening for James Durbin was New Medicine from Minnesota.

Durbin sat down with The Rock Stage, so check out the interview below. Durbin autographed a few show posters and we’re going to give three of them away to a few lucky Rock Stage readers! To enter, e-mail and put “James Durbin” as the subject line with your name in the body. Three winners will be chosen at random by February 10, 2012.

The Rock Stage: Your season of American Idol premiered just over a year ago, what is the best thing about where you are today?

James Durbin: I’m happy, I’m doing what I love to do, I’m married, I just feel really good about what’s going on in life right now and how everything is unfolding. Post-Idol you never know what it’s going to be like; you’re on such a high performing in front of 30 million people every week and then you go on this big nationwide tour, and in this case, we went to the Philippines for a week and once that’s all over, you’re kind of at a crossroads with yourself. If you make the wrong move you’ll be back doing exactly what you were doing before.

James Durbin: Not really, not really at all. Things are going really good. There’s so much to be thankful for right now. There’s no point in focusing on anything bad.The Rock Stage: Are there any bad moments in your success?

James Durbin: I knew that I wanted to do “Memories of” something, so I sat down with a thesaurus. When I looked up “disaster”, it said, also see “accident”, so that’s how I came up with it.The Rock Stage: Was it an easy process coming up with the name of your album, “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster”, or did it take some time to come up with a title?

The Rock Stage: What is your favorite song?

James Durbin: My new favorite song to perform would be “Screaming”, tonight is actually our first full band, full electric performance. My manager, Josh, got me a megaphone for my birthday so I’ll be using that during

“Screaming” and it sounds really good. We just sound checked with it and it just feels great, it’s a really fun song.

The Rock Stage: You have an amazing band with you, how did you find them?

James Durbin: Well my lead guitarist, Dylan Rose, he’s a long time friend from back home in Santa Cruz, he’s from a metal band called Archer. Bass player, another good, long time friend, Tyler Molinaro, and he was from a local Santa Cruz hair metal band called Dirty Penny and they toured all over the place and opened up for Poison and a couple others. Then Jeff Fabb and Blake Bunzel are from In This Moment.

The Rock Stage: Jeff and Blake left In This Moment to join you, correct?

James Durbin: Yes, they left to join me and I’m honored.

The Rock Stage: What was the auditioning process like for American Idol?

James Durbin: First you have to wait in a gigantic line with thousands and thousands of other people and you wait to just get a wristband. You go back two days later and you wait in that same line again. The first day we waited for 18 hours, the second day we waited outside the stadium for 14 hours and once we were inside the stadium we waited for another three maybe four, so 18 hours a day.

The Rock Stage: Did you film your American Idol pre-audition interview piece with your now wife and son at home before the audition or after?

James Durbin: So first you do the big open cattle call, if you get back that they bring you back two days later, then you audition for a couple of the smaller producers and if you make it past that, you go to the big wig producers, Ken Warwick, Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller and then they tell you if you’re going through or not. And then it was another month wait before I got to audition before the judges.

The Rock Stage: How nerve-wracking was that?

James Durbin: Oh, I was crying before I even got in there. It was really really nerve-wracking, especially last season with Steven Tyler being on there, so it was really nerve-wracking. I still can’t believe I was able to get through it. But once you start to see the judges every day it becomes a lot easier.

The Rock Stage: Who is your favorite judge on American Idol?

James Durbin: Steven, of course! Steven is the rock god; he’s the icon of rock.

The Rock Stage: What was the most memorable thing you got to do on American Idol?

James Durbin: Really just being able to perform in front of 30 million people a week and the main thing I set out to do was to create moments for myself. Winning wasn’t the most important thing to me. I wanted to be remembered. I wanted to create moments. From the first song on the big stage singing “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest – no one had ever done that. Setting a piano on fire during Elton John week singing “Saturday Night’s Right For Fighting” – no one had ever done that. Hulk Hogan coming on American Idol – no one had ever done that. Zakk Wylde coming on American Idol – no one would have ever thought of that. A drum line during “Uprising” by Muse and the cooky outfit that I co-designed – no one would have ever thought of that. All of these things were my ideas. Judas Priest performing on the finale of American Idol – bringing metal to the masses – bringing metal to prime time – nobody would have ever thought of that.

The Rock Stage: What’s your favorite post-American Idol experience?

James Durbin: My favorite thing I’ve done post-Idol was get married.

The Rock Stage: Congratulations on getting married, does your wife (Heidi) and son (Hunter) go on tour with you or do they stay at home?

James Durbin: They usually stay home. When we go out on our big tour, they’re definitely coming. For these one offs we’ve been out promoting the record doing lounges and radio stations, it’s been easiest for them to be at home. It’s a lot of driving this way and that way and hopping on a plane here and there and we’re really all over the place. We’ll be out all spring and summer on tour.

The Rock Stage: Do you have a name for the tour?

James Durbin: No public name for the tour yet, because I can’t announce. This little tour we’ve been on we’ve been calling it the “Acoustic Thunder Southern Inny First Annual Farewell Tour 2012”. Because who’s not going to go to a farewell tour? You’re not going to not go see a farewell tour. These two shows we’re doing this week in Libertyville and then tomorrow in Milwaukee it’s the “Intensity In Two Cities” tour.

The Rock Stage: Did you have a first dance at your wedding and if so, what was it?

James Durbin: The first dance was “Faithfully” by Journey. It was kind of the theme of the wedding. Heidi walked down the aisle to “Faithfully”, “Faithfully” was our first dance and “Faithfully” was the last song I sang to her at the wedding. And the lyrics were also on our cake it said “Forever Yours, Faithfully” and I have “Forever Yours” tattooed and Heidi has “Faithfully” tattooed right there (points to his forearm).

The Rock Stage: What are your future plans after the spring and summer tour?

James Durbin: Just keep writing. A lot of writing. There are certain people that I want to go write with. A couple of them are in Nashville, a couple of them are in LA, I’d actually like to physically write with Hardcore Superstar from Sweden. We co-wrote “Outcast” and they sent over some ideas and then I added some stuff and they were on tour and it was just a lot easier. They are one of my favorite bands and it would be very fun to sit there and write with them. I probably wouldn’t even be able to believe it. Especially since they are foreign it seems a lot more like you want what you can’t have.

The Rock Stage: Have you encountered any crazy fan experiences yet?

James Durbin: A couple of them have tattoos. One of them sent a piece of paper to my fan club address and my wife opened it and I never saw it. It had a blank piece of paper in it and they wanted me to write something down on it and she wanted to get a tattoo of exactly what I had written. My fans follow me. There’s a lot of people here tonight that are coming out of state. I read that one lady is driving 8 hours to be here.

The Rock Stage: I really commend you on using American Idol to shed light on how you were diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and using the show as a platform to show America what you’re about.

James Durbin: Idol is such a great opportunity and you’re given such a great platform and you can really do whatever you want with it. A lot of people lose sight of that. You can promote whatever you want on Idol.