David Cook Tour Diary: The 'American Idol' Winner Talks Life on the Road, TV Show Stigma (Video)
The Season 7 victor and fan favorite gives THR an all-access pass to his Pomona, Calif. concert at the Fox Theater and submits to a mid-tour interview with music editor and Idol Worshiper Shirley Halperin.
Grabbing his guitar, David Cook launches into Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” with more than a hint of irony. “I gotta know tonight, if you’re alone tonight,” he sings from center stage at the Fox Theater in Pomona, Calif., trying his best to find the emotional core of the 1987 hit (Cook was five when it came out, his fairytale TV story still 21 years away). It doesn’t take long before the American Idol season 7 winner, who clenched his victory in large part by reimagining radio classics just like this one, breaks character and his band breaks down in quick succession.
“It already sounds really cheesy,” he laughs, unable to determine whether it’s a good cheese or the kind you’ll regret when you realize it lives forever on Youtube. Indeed, Cook would later tell us he’s been cursing the video site “for years -- ever since I fell singing ‘Hot for Teacher’ in Biloxi, Mississippi,” he grouses. It’s an understandable insecurity as many dozen clips from Cook’s current tour with Gavin Degraw and Carolina Liar live on the site, starting from a fateful first show at Penn State, when “Dicklaration” became the newest entry to the Cook lexicon. It refers to the moment during that show when the word nerd’s brand new pants ripped from “knee to crotch” (his words) just as he getting ready to play “Declaration,” the opening track to his self-titled debut album.
“I had just bought these new pants -- wax denim, lace up the side, they weren’t cheap and I was into them -- and I just heard and felt this rip,” Cook recalls with equal part glee and horror. “I had to make a split-second decision: do I go offstage and let the band meander? I said, ‘Screw it.’ At this point, a couple thousand people know -- I’m a pale guy you can tell and I’m wearing dark pants -- so I had to inform everybody, then I went behind the lighting rig and gaffed the pants together. It was definitely one of the more mortifying things that have happened to me onstage, but I think I handled it correctly.”
It was an audacious start to a nearly two-month trek that will take Cook from coast to coast and bring him face-to-face with some of his most devoted fans via a daily meet-and-greet where, for $75, anyone can get a special VIP pass autographed and have a picture taken with the man himself.
In Pomona, they lined up early in the afternoon and got to sit in for a couple songs during sound-check (“Declaration” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Hand That Feeds”) -- after Cook worked out the kinks with another, even more ambitious cover: Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” Earlier, guitar-bation ensued as Cook and new band member Devon Bronson traded licks onstage and goofed off. Warned Cook: “I can come off like I’m drunk when I’m sober.”
It’s actually an apt description for the entire Cook concert experience, which emphasized fun above all for those in the crowd, onstage, working the bar, selling T-shirts (it seems David’s brother Andrew has been tasked with that responsibility at select shows) or handling the gear. The Fox Theater performance was no exception. Kicking off the set with mood-setter “Circadian,” Cook gingerly ran through his catalog, mixing up songs from his debut (“Light On,” “Heroes,” “Bar-ba-sol”) and his latest album, This Loud Morning (“Paper Heart,” “The Last Goodbye,” “We Believe”). The night’s cover: a perennial favorite, Muse’s “Stockholm Syndrome.”
“For the next hour and change, you're stuck with our moderately good-looking asses," Cook cracked -- not that anyone was complaining. Indeed, outside of the recording studio, where he logged plenty of overtime hours while making This Loud Morning, the road might be Cook’s most natural habitat. It’s one reason why he chose a combination of live footage (culled from performances in Columbus, St. Louis and Tulsa) and highway travels for his latest video, “Fade Into Me” (below). So is the it his “Faithfully?” we asked. “I don’t know,” says Cook. “Every live video -- ‘Dead or Alive,’ Faithfully,’ ‘Home Sweet Home,’ ‘Don’t Speak’ -- is such a lofty comparison.”
On the Declaration tour, Cook played a mind-boggling 152 dates in just under a year -- the longest tour by an Idol alum at the time. Is he looking to break a record with this trek? Sort of. “I live for this,” says Cook, adding that additional dates with DeGraw are being sorted out along with a trip abroad next year -- to Europe and perhaps beyond. “I used to be such a studio nut and now I love nothing more than being on the road, so put me wherever. I’m into it. CAA, book those shows!”
See more from our time with Cook in THR’s exclusive video above and check out "Fade Into Me" below.