'Idol' Alum James Durbin: 'Happy to Be Writing Kick-Ass Songs With Kick-Ass People' (Q&A)
The season 10 finalist talks to THR about his new single and album and looks forward to season 13 of "American Idol."
It's been two years since American Idol season 10 alum James Durbin released new music. The rocker's debut alum, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, was issued on Nov. 21, 2011, and peaked at No. 8 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart. On Friday, the singer will follow it up with a new single, “Parachute,” and offer a taste of his second album, Celebrate, due on April 8, 2014 from Wind-up Records.
Durbin will also return to the scene in style -- appearing on the red carpet for the American Music Awards' pre-show on Sunday, Nov. 24 to preview a new behind-the-scenes video.
His appearance during the 5 p.m. EST hour can be seen live on Durbinrock.com, AMAS.com, ABC.com, Cocacola.com and Yahoo.com.
Durbin talked to The Hollywood Reporter about his new single and album and the show that started it all for him, American Idol.
Let’s talk about the new single, “Parachute.” Did you write this song with someone else?
"Parachute" was a co-write. It was written by my genius producer Scott "the Ninja" Stevens, the incomparable stylings of Andy Stochansky and yours truly. After a few successful songwriting sessions with Scott, he showed me a new idea he and Andy came up with called "Parachute.” It was just the bones of the song. It gave us so much to work with and had a rad concept so I jumped for it. Literally! "Jump, jump, jump, jump – without my parachute!" With its driving upbeat tempo, huge chorus and unforgettable hook, in my eyes there's no better contender for first single than "Parachute!"
How is the forthcoming album different from the first? In what ways have you changed since recording that first album?
My first album is a chapter in my history and I have a lot of chapters yet to be filled. I had a great time making Memories, given I had two weeks to record it. I'm forever grateful for the chance to even get to record an album.
In a past interview, I described my first record as "anxious and pissed off.” Where I am now in my life and given everything I've learned about myself, hearing that quote makes me unsure of who I was when I said that. That's not me anymore. I'm not angry. I'm blessed, I'm thankful and I'm grateful. I'm just so happy to be writing kick-ass songs with kick-ass people.
Tell us about writing the other songs on the new album -- who else you wrote with, how some of the songs came about, what were your inspirations ...
I can't tell you all my secrets [Laughs]. There were a lot of great sessions and then there were the amazing sessions! The majority of the record came about writing with the intergalactic Ted Bruner and my producer Scott "The Ninja" Stevens, respectively.
In a session, Scott and I usually get straight to work, after some inside-joke craziness and weird voices. In a Ted Bruner session, we go through our "rituals" and proceed to "zombie" around Venice Beach finding inspirations in the oddest of places, one being a hat store where we got the idea for the song "Celebrate.”
Are all the songs on the new album original, or are there any covers?
All originals on the album. I want to write and perform as many of my own penned songs in my life as possible. I think it's a beautiful tool to possess, and I have a lot to learn to perfect that craft. I'll keep some covers up my sleeve for tour. Can't wait to sing me some Journey!
What aspect of making and releasing an album do you like best -- the writing, the recording, the mixing, the promotion, the touring, or … ?
I love writing! Anybody wanna write? I'm there. [Laughs] The recording is great too, but I have too short of an attention span for mixing and mastering. Promotion and touring is the best. That's when I get to show all of my fans what I've been working on. This is my work I have to show for the past two years. This is another chapter of me.
Do you still watch Idol? What do you think of the new lineup of judges for season 13?
Idol is the original. I'm so fortunate to have been a part of such a once-in-a- lifetime chance. I'm hoping I get the opportunity to come back this season to the stage that gave me my career. And when I do, it'll be so much more special because one of my season’s judges is back on the panel -- Ms. Jennifer Lopez. I can't wait to show my Idol family how much I've grown.