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Apr 11, 2012

James Durbin talks 'Idol' return, national tour

By Brian Mansfield, USA TODAY

James Durbin is playing Thursday night rock 'n' roll style. First, he'll return to the stage of American Idol to perform on the results. Afterward, he'll hightail it from Los Angeles' Hollywood and Highland Center over to the Viper Room, where he's launching his first national tour.

"We've got an hour's set," says James, who finished fourth in last year's Idol competition. "It's great. The fans have been so responsive throughout this whole journey, and they still are."

You might expect James to perform Love Me Bad, the current single from his Memories of a Beautiful Disaster album, on Idol, but he says that's not necessarily the case.

"We're actually making it a big surprise," he says. "We're definitely going to rock it like we haven't rocked it before. Take that into account. I always try to put on a real show, so we definitely won't shy away from that."

James is looking forward to reconnecting with the show's judges and producers he befriended last year. But the remaining finalists include a couple of familiar faces, too: Both Hollie Cavanagh and Colton Dixon were among the Hollywood contestants in James' season.

James especially remembers Hollie's parents. "I shared a glass of wine with them after we made it past one of the rounds," he says. "Hollie's parents were so proud of her and so happy. They were having a congratulatory wine toast and hooked me in on it."

As for Colton, "since we were both the rock guys, the air could have been a little thick, a little tense," James says. "But he was always cool to me, and I was always cool to him. He deserves to be there."

On his tour, James will be mixing headlining shows with support dates for Buckcherry and Evanescence. "I like doing headliner shows, but, at the same time, I want to earn my spot," he says. "I've played in bars since I was 15, so I've earned some of my 10,000 hours before I'm a professional musician, as they say." But American Idol, with its television exposure and national arena tour, gave him a shortcut through the usual process. "So now it's time to retrace my steps and pick up the pieces I didn't really get to use along the way."

James also has a couple of things going on today. He'll answer fan questions during an American Idol tweetalong at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT. Tonight, he'll present an award at Revolver's Golden Gods Awards Show, which is streaming online (black carpet 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, awards show 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT). He's also up for best vocalist.