• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

'American Idol': Alex Preston Talks Finale, Jamming with Jason Mraz and Casey Abrams

The eliminated contestant told reporters he "knew deep down" it would be Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson for the win.

Alex Preston P
Michael Becker / Fox

Caleb Johnson wasn’t the only sick finalist to stand on the American Idol stage on Wednesday night’s performance show. Alex Preston was fighting off germs as well. The only difference was Preston’s condition wasn’t publicized or diagnosed by an Idol doctor.

“I didn’t have any vocal hemorrhages or anything, but I wasn’t in top shape at all,” said the New Hampshire singer/songwriter on a Friday conference call with reporters.

Preston was fighting bronchitis, and was also taking steroids to deal with his asthma. So why didn’t he let the audience know his plight? Preston said the words by Harry Connick Jr. in Hollywood Week about not admitting illness stood out in his mind.

“I remember Harry during Hollywood Week [saying] ‘Don’t tell us you’re sick because that will take our attention away,’” he said.

OPINION: 'American Idol' Season 13: Why Caleb Johnson Should Win

Being under the weather, he added, did affect his voice -- but that’s show-biz. “I could feel the strain,” said Preston. “But I knew that stuff happens in this business [and] you have to push through it."

Nevertheless, the 21-year old multi-instrumentalist is happy that he made it to the top three, and has no hard feelings.

Jena [Irene] and Caleb [Johnson] are so good and their performances are so big, and I knew deep down that it was going to be them in the finale," he said. “But I was happy with top three and I was really proud of them, too."

Next week is a big one for Preston as well. He'll share the stage with Jason Mraz, whom he met through mutual friends and X Factor winners Alex and Sierra. He met the duo after they reached out to him on Twitter, and now they “hang out all the time,” he said.

“They introduced me to their friends Nancy and Michael Natter who wrote ‘I Won’t Give Up’,” Preston said. “They invited me to go get coffee with Jason and it just sparked from there. It’s a crazy chain of connections.”

OPINION: 'American Idol' Season 13: Why Jena Irene Should Win

Others have been reaching out to Preston after his elimination with offers as well. Preston told THR that season 10 finalist Casey Abrams called him on Friday with an offer to “jam” over the weekend.

“He’s the man,” he said. “We’re really good friends. We’ve hung out a bunch of times. He’s one of the coolest dudes and he called me up to say that he was proud of me and that we should jam this weekend."

But on which instrument? Preston told THR he plays 12 and never really took lessons, except for violin and piano when he was “really young.”

“I took like maybe three or four guitar lessons in my life and maybe two or three vocal lessons but that’s about it,” he said. “After that I fell in love with learning new instruments and writing songs on new instruments. ... I love buying weird exotic instruments and messing around with them."

Preston said he loved recording his song, “I Love This Feeling,” which was written by Drew Pearson, the songwriter behind Phillip Phillips’ “Home.” Although Johnson and  Irene’s songs have already been released to iTunes, Preston said he is not sure when his single will drop.

Right now, Preston is focusing on recording an album, collaborating with Mraz and other writers on songs, the finale and having a blast on the tour. 

“This competition has really taken  me out of my shell and I have learned a lot more about myself as a performer and I have become more confident,” he said. “I can’t wait to play drums and all the other instruments when I play live."

Twitter: @MicheleAmabile, @Idol_Worship