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David Cook to Perform on 'Idol' Next Week (Exclusive)

The season 7 'American Idol' winner will begin promoting his sophomore album by singing new single "The Last Goodbye."

Robert Sebree

David Cook is headed back to American Idol. The Season 7 winner will take the stage on April 21, premiering his new single, “The Last Goodbye,” and officially launching the promotional cycle for his highly anticipated second album. (His 2008 self-titled debut on RCA sold more than 1 million copies.)

And it’s about time. Fans have waited nearly two years to hear new Cook tunes, and while his cover of Simple Minds’ “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” was a welcome arrival (thank Idol creator Simon Fuller, who campaigned to use the song as Season 10’s send-off number), it also felt like a temporary holdover. So what took Cook so long? Read on for Idol Worship's exclusive chat with the fan favorite. 

The Hollywood Reporter: Next week, you’re coming back to a new Idol – new set, new judges, of course, new contestants, what are you anticipating? 

David Cook: I'm kind of walking in without expectations, purely for the reasons you mentioned: it's almost a whole new show. I'm certainly looking forward to meeting the new contestants, and also really excited to meet the new judges. From what I've seen so far, Steven Tyler is a riot, and I think J. Lo's been incredible. And I’m excited to see Randy, Ryan and everybody behind the scenes.

THR: You’ll be singing "The Last Goodbye," but it will essentially be a first hello for fans who’ve waited patiently for your new album.

Cook: Yeah, it's been a very long labor of love…. But I think it's how long this record needed to take. Lyrically, musically, emotionally, this record is open. There's some fresh wound moments, for sure. 

THR: At first, it was said to be coming out in March, now it’s looking more like June. Does it frustrate you that the record keeps getting pushed back? 

Cook: We never really set an official date for this record, so everything was kind of open-ended. I think I had images of grandeur about getting this album out quickly, and as we really got our hands dirty with it, it became very apparent that it was going to take some time. I set really lofty ideals for it, so as such, every milestone we hit with this record involved a lot of work to get to that point. But I think the goals we set for this record for the most part were met. 

THR: What kind of concerns did you have going into the album? 

Cook: It was mainly, “Can we take these ideas floating around in my head and really implement them properly?" I wanted to shoot for the moon and I thought we had a great base set up with the last record, so I really wanted this record to expand on that. You want to get better with every project you put out. The bar was set kind of high, and the pressure that I had was all self-imposed. 

THR: Idol Worship recently spoke with Ryan Tedder who complimented your songwriting skills. You’ve been creating music long before your Idol win, but is songwriting something you’ve tried to hone in recent years? 

Cook: When I started writing it was more therapeutic, and I’ve really tried to stick to that. I've always looked at music as taking negative energy and turning it into a positive source, so as far as honing skills -- your words not mine – it’s all kind of happened naturally. I just feel as I've gotten older and I've experienced more that's going to come through in your writing, and as I write with all these amazing people like Ryan Tedder and David Hodges and Raine Maida and Johnny Rzeznik, it's impossible to have their talent and expertise around and not rub off on you. 

THR: One of the songs on the album you wrote with your guitarists Neal Tiemann and Andy Skib, tell us about that. 

Cook: I've played with those guys now going on almost ten years in one capacity or another. We've got a great musical chemistry, so to be able to sit down and write with together and have those songs stand up against all the other stuff we kind of stockpiled for this record, I think that says a lot, not just about me, but also about those guys. They're extremely talented, and I'm happy and fortunate to have them around. 

THR: What’s the name of the song and what was the process like? 

Cook: It’s called “Goodbye To The Girl.” It’s a song that has a really cool mood and was just the right puzzle piece to the record. We basically sat in the studio at my house and worked on it. I think I was in my pajamas when we wrote it. 

THR: That, of course, begs the question: what do David Cook’s PJs look like? 

Cook: They look like flannel pajama pants adorned with flying cheeseburgers and such. [Laughs] What I think made that experience so fun in terms of writing with them was that we didn't go in with any expectations. At the time, we weren’t even writing for the record -- we were just writing because we wanted to. To me, that's when the best ideas come across and not when it's "from one to four, you're writing today." 

THR: You covered Simple Minds’ classic “(Don't You) Forget About Me,” can you tell us how that came to be? 

Cook: When I was approached about that song, my first thought was how iconic it is. Every time I hear that song I think of Judd Nelson on the football field with his fist in the air. How do you make it your own without completely bastardizing the original? It was an interesting experience. I'm extremely happy with the end result. It was a lot of fun to record. We got Kenny Aronoff on drums and Neal came in and helped cut some of the guitars. With Matt Squire's help -- he was on board as a producer -- we went in, had fun with it and tried not to worry about the inevitable pressure associated with that song. It was a huge honor. I'm glad we were able to do it for Idol this year. 

THR: Do you think it works as a farewell song? 

Cook: It's different than any other send-off song that I can recall, but from what I've seen so far this season, it seems to flow pretty well, which makes me very happy. 

THR: When did you first see The Breakfast Club

Cook: I don't even remember, that's how young I was. I've seen it multiple times since, for sure. As you get older, you start to understand a little bit more about what the characters are going through. That movie is a quintessential part of any. 

THR: You recently shot the cover art for the new album, should we prepare ourselves for a dramatic new look? 

Cook: I shaved my hair and it's all gone! I'm kidding. I think visually we had more time with this record and so we were able to create more of a sonic landscape across the board. I wanted the visual aspects of this record to emphasize that. This record's a bit more intricate. With the last one, everything happened so quickly -- I think it was four and a half months from start to finish -- so you try to conceptualize on the fly. But this time, we could really form ideas.  We played a little bit more with natural lighting as far as the photography was concerned. The album art was shot by Lauren Dukoff who did Adele's new record. She's just incredible. What she's able to do with natural light is mind-blowing to me. It really created a mood. 

THR: When the album comes out, it will be reviewed and no doubt dissected. Do you ever get sick of being judged?

Cook: Whether or not I do, it's going to happen regardless. I think as long as I'm able to make music that I’m proud of, that I’m comfortable putting my name on and can make a living for me or any future family that I might have, I'm good. There’s a phrase I use all the time: "If you can't control it, laugh like hell." So I'll just laugh instead. 

THR: What's the scariest part of the whole album process? Is it this moment, as it’s about to be released? 

Cook: Honestly, the scariest part for me has already happened and that's getting it done. I've been involved in records where you kind of get halfway through and realize, "OK, we ‘ve gotta backtrack, this is just not right." And with this record, the biggest challenge was making sure everything was right because we had the time. So the scariest part for me is over, and that's purely because I feel 100 percent confident in this record. And I feel we really hit the nail on the head as far as what kind of record I had in my head from the start. And that's not always an easy thing to say. So right now, I suppose I'm just hoping to enjoy whatever fruits of my labor lie ahead, if there are any.