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INTERVIEW: James Durbin

Kari Williams posted on April 23, 2012 00:00

James Durbin may have gained fame through American Idol, but he didn’t become a STAR until his stint on the career-making show ended.

Durbin joined WWE and the Creative Coalition’s anti-bullying “Be a STAR” Campaign in February, sending the rock star into a whole new world of body slams, headlocks and larger-than-life superstars that he has admired since childhood.

Durbin joins Buckcherry this Friday at Pop’s, and talks to InsideSTL about his American Idol experience, being backstage at this year’s Wrestlemania and more.

InsideSTL: If you could change one thing about your experience on American Idol, what would you change and why?
James Durbin: I wouldn’t want to change anything. Everything happens for a reason. It makes me who I am… I don’t look back at life anymore and look at those sorts of things… I learn from them. Stay positive.

InsideSTL: Where do you think you would be career-wise without American Idol?
JD: I’d probably be working karaoke and still probably be in a now-defunct band called Dirty Penny. I wouldn’t feel as happy as I am now. Idol just pretty much took me out of a dark place and brought light to my life…

InsideSTL: Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your career?
JD: My wife. I was going down a bad road and using, and not just in a good place spiritually and anywhere physically, or mentally, and then I met her and everything turned out [alright]. I wanted to achieve and succeed… She’s my number one, my guardian angel…

InsideSTL: I know you recently got involved with WWE's be a STAR campaign. How did that come about?
JD: I was bullied a lot growing up… At the time, I was probably about 10 years old, and I stumbled upon wrestling. I saw these guys, these gladiators… duking it out against each other and looked at them, [and thought] these guys were kids like me at one point growing up, and there’s hope. I can do whatever I want, I can become as magical… So that just inspired me.

During Idol I got the chance to meet [Hulk] Hogan and [Chris] Jericho… [Jericho] let me go to a WWE show and be a guest… and it was great. I got to talk to different people and become a part of the “be a STAR” alliance, [and it has] been great being a part of it. I get to go to middle schools with WWE stars… I’m still a really big fan, but I get to be up there on stage with superstars and divas, and be there with them for the same reason, to bring attention to bullying and bring a stop to it, and I get to tell kids my story and the superstars and divas do as well… I feel such a satisfaction…

InsideSTL: Being a WWE fan, what was it like getting somewhat of a 'behind the scenes' look at the company through your work with the "be a STAR" campaign?
JD: It’s a lot more than I bargained for or thought would happen. [I was involved in the] Wrestlemania “be a STAR” programs there so that was amazing… I’m having a blast. I also got to give away some tickets to Wrestlemania to go to the Hall of Fame... One boy was hanging out backstage with all of us. He had a fatality in his family, so he was really sad and heartbroken... It just happened a week or two prior. We rigged the tickets and got him a ticket for him and a guardian to go to Wrestlemania. And he was so happy; he was jumping up and down… He traded shades with the Miz and David Otunga… He knew all the storylines, probably more than some of people [working for WWE]…. It was a dream for me to be there, a dream since I was his age or a little younger…

InsideSTL: Going back to Chris Jericho, what advice was he able to give you from his experience with his band, Fozzy?
JD: Look out for swindlers… Don’t have a reckless lifestyle. That’s the thing that’ll kill you on tour. You won’t be able to perform to your fullest. The man always wears a scarf, never takes it off. He said it helps him with his voice. He learned that from Smokey Robinson.

InsideSTL: What are you looking forward to about playing with Buckcherry at Pop’s next week?
JD: …I ran into them at the Golden God Awards about two weeks ago… This is gonna be fun, you know. I’m really pumped. There will be lots of lots of energy, singing, dancing and just being the music on stage.

InsideSTL: Is there anything you’d like to add about what you’re working on now, the tour or anything else?
JD: We are in talks right now about the second record. We’ll start working on it sometime this year with an amazing producer I actually got to write with… For anything anyone needs to know about me, us, the band… go to