Rocker James Durbin Talks Beatles, Bieber, and Belly-Flops
Lyndsey Parker By Lyndsey Parker
March 21, 2014 5:28 PM
rocker James Durbin is set to release his sophomore album "Celebrate"
on April 8, and longtime fans of the man who famously performed with
Judas Priest on the Season 10 "Idol" finale might be surprised
by its poppier, peppier direction.
But James has given more
than just metal a chance throughout his musical life. He's influenced
by a wide array of artists, from Michael Jackson to the Beatles to even
his Season 10 "Idol" crony Casey Abrams, and in a pop-quiz
interview with Yahoo Music, he hilariously dishes about all that and
photo: Kristen Shaffer
What is the first album you bought with your own money, and where did
you buy it from?
The "Space Jam" soundtrack.
What was the first concert you attended, and where?
It was horrible. It was Trapt. It was at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz,
and I won free tickets because I was getting a slice of pizza downtown
and they had this radio station outside there. And I heard them because
they were broadcasting right there; they were like, "Hey, if anyone
hears us on the radio and wants to come to the concert tonight, come
on down and we'll get you free tickets." So I went. I had two tickets,
I was like 15 or 16, and couldn't find anyone to go with me. So I'm,
like, trying to give away a free ticket to anyone outside, and of course,
being a 16-year-old boy, I'm trying to find like a girl. Like, "You
want this ticket? It's free! You don't have to stand with me or anything,
but it's a free ticket." But she still said no — and she
was there buying a ticket!
What was the artist/song/video/album/concert
that made you go, "Wow, making music is what I want to do too"?
Thriller. When I was in 6th grade I sang [Michael Jackson's] "Rock
With You" and I did the moonwalk and everything at a talent show.
I think "Idol" still has the only known copy of [that video].
They need to send it back to my mom.
If you could duet with any
recording artist, living or dead, who would your dream duet partner
What has been your unfortunate
I like to eat. I like to be healthy and work out, but my love of food
and eating and sugar — especially the drug sugar — kind
of kicks out the love of fitness and staying healthy. So sometimes I
would finish off a show and at the very end of the show I'd do a big
jump, and more than 100 times my shirt would fly up and you'd just see
my white gut flopping over the belt line. Ugh!
What's the weirdest thing
a fan has ever done for you or said to you?
At my Santa Cruz show someone made me a doll. They said they spent the
last three years making it It's like the "Idol" me, so I'm
heavier in the face, like a baby face, and then it has the hair and
the striped shirt.
Did that flatter you, or
freak you out?
Both. I told my neighbors about it. I didn't show it to them but I said,
"If any of your chickens are missing in the morning, we'll come
look and see if the case is still locked."
Do you have a special preshow
Actually on this last tour I started getting a lot of canvases and drawing
on them [backstage]. I've actually already sold a couple of my works.
What's the most unusual thing
on your tour rider?
Hand-warmers. I mean, we were just on tour in the polar vortex, so hand-warmers
were definitely needed. But no one got us hand-warmers. My old band
lineup, our old rider was like a bottle of Jack Daniel's, a bottle of
Crown, a bottle of Grey Goose, rolling papers…um, countless other
things. It's funny, now it's seaweed snacks. I really like nori snacks.
What's the one genre of music
you'd never try to do yourself, and why not?
That I'd never do? I have to think of some songs that I wrote for this
last record. I did a bunch of songwriting sessions, and so we'd have
some days we just wouldn't have a full perfect pop-rock radio record
idea, we'd have something else. So one time I was writing with Chad
Wolf from Carolina Liar and we just started writing this song and we
called it "California," and it's like a hip-hop song. It's
really funny and I'm kind of rapping on it and there's like a Peter
Frampton talkbox in there, and it's just stupid. But it would totally
work to be like synched up for like a show like "The Hills"
or "The Vineyard" or something like that. But something I'd
never do, I don't know…
Do you do karaoke? If so,
what's your go-to karaoke song?
I don't do karaoke anymore; I haven't done karaoke in a while. I had
a setlist. I used to work karaoke, used to run the board, and I'd host.
I did that before "Idol." I'd usually start off with "Let's
Stay Together" by Al Green and eventually get to "Rock You
Like a Hurricane" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." And then the
very last song of the night, if it was a full house and they were crazy
and people were having fun and buying drinks and everything, my co-host
Chris and would get on the microphones and we would do the very last
song. In the middle of the set we'd do "Ice Ice Baby," and
then at the very end of the show we'd do "Don't Stop Believin'"
and we'd stand on the tables and on the bar and we'd be throwing coasters
out into the crowd at people. We just made it like a fun show.
What's the most surprising
song or artist on your iPod?
Um, only because I like the production, and because I doubt that the
person singing it had anything to do with the writing of the song, but
yet probably still got like 60 percent credit…it's "Beauty
and a Beat" by Justin Bieber. It's got really cool production and
the flow of [Nicki Minaj's] rap line it's just kind of cool.
What's the most recent album
One of the last ones that I actually purchased, like a full record,
was Casey Abrams's record. It's just really good. We listen to it on
every single road trip. I think we listened to it twice on our drive
just today. It's a really good album, underrated; it wasn't publicized
a bunch and it wasn't promoted, and it's a shame.
OK, lightning-round time.
Pick one: The Beatles or Rolling Stones?
Elvis Presley or Buddy Holly?
Britney Spears or Christina
The Notorious B.I.G. or Tupac