After a quick trip back to his hometown of Blue Springs last weekend, “American Idol” winner David Cook is back in Los Angeles, where he started work this week on his first post-‘Idol” album. He talked with us on Wednesday about that record, his hometown and other “Idol”-related issues.
What can you tell us about the record?
It'll be a jazz calypso record.
No, I'm lying. It'll be a rock record. The goal is to put some twists and turns in it and make it a little interesting. We're actually in the writing process now. I have songs that I've done in the past that have been submitted. Nothing as of yet
Have you selected a producer?
We're in the midst of figuring that out. A few names have been thrown out but nothing solid. Hopefully we'll get that mapped out here in the next week or two.
When do you hope to release it?
The goal is mid-fall, mid- to late fall.
Will you be part of a band or will you be a solo artist?
I like the idea of the band atmosphere. Being out on the road you should to be able to have a "band of brothers" to kind of ease the transition. We're bouncing around a lot of ideas. Nothing is set in stone but I'm of the mind a band woudn't be such a bad idea.
What do you remember about your years in the Kansas City music scene?
I just remember playing shows for next to no money and having nobody there and still loving it. Doing those kinds of shows was probably more eye opening for me showing me this is what I really want to do as opposed to a lot of bigger shows.It's easy to get that feeling when you're playing in front of a few hundred people who are all really into what you're doing but if you can have that same feeling playing to an empty club it probably means you're doing something right for yourself.
Did you ever get discouraged?
Yeah, I got discouraged. That happens to anybody. You take your lumps and move on. In 10 years of being in bands there were times I got discouraged and wondered if I'd was going to be one of those sob stories down the road.
The road to where I'm at is paved with a ton of musicians who are far more talented than me who never got the opportunity. I feel like I'm not only representing myself but in a very small way representing a lot of those people, too.
Why did you move to Tulsa?
I'd been in the Kansas City scene for a long time. I just thought maybe a change of scenery would spike some inspiration. The opportunity to move down to Tulsa came up. I'd traveled to Tulsa a lot to play shows and had really kind of fallen in love with the music vibe. It seemed like a natural progression to me and it was close enough to home so I could come back and not feel like I had dropped a fortune.
For me it was about getting into an environment that cultivated the kind of music I wanted to write, which is good rock with a pop sensibility.
Towards the end of “Idol,” there was much more for you to do than prepare to sing a song or two. For the finale alone you had several songs and dance routines, a commercial, a skit with Mike Myers. How long were those days leading up to the last week?
It wasn't unfathomable to do a 12- to 15-hour work day, just kind of prepping for it. Oddly enough, it never felt like a long day. There were times when it got a little more maybe stressful, obviously, it's such a huge platform. But Archie and I were both pretty firm in our resolve to love what you do and do what you love, it. We were certainly, for lack of better phrase, living the dream at that point. They were long days but not grueling or strenuous.
But there was way more to memorize.
For sure. And how we both managed to make it through relatively unscathed is beyond me. You learn it then kind of have to omit from memory at that point and hope you can recapture the memory for what is supposed to happen then.
When did they tell you you’d be singing with ZZ Top?
I found out abut a week before.
Glee, really.I can't say I was a huge ZZ Top fan but to have any knowledge of music from a pop-culture standpoint you have to recognize and acknowledge how important ZZ Top is. To be able to share the stage with them was great. The fact that they were so down-to-earth and opted to make it as easy as possible for me with 20 mill other things going on, they were fantastic
What did they tell you?
They just tried to give me snippets of advice enjoy it for what it is and just have fun. That's what Wednesday was about. The votes were in; there's nothing you can do so you may as well just enjoy it. That's what I did. To share the stage with them and Brian Adams and George Michael and so many other people who were very giving of their time: That was massive.
How vastly have things changed since the show ended?
A little different. Obviously they have kept me pretty busy, which kind of comes with the territory. But it’s a different vibe. I’m out in the open more so I’m getting to experience some of the fruits of the labor a little bit.People have been great, very complementary and respectful and I’ve gotten a lot of great complements about my family, which is huge. From that aspect it’s nice. But I can sleep when I die. I’m kind of welcoming it all right now. It’s sensory overload but that’s part of what I like about it.
You realize everything you say is scrutinized. Apparently you said to someone that you’d like to get a dog. A lot of our readers want to know what kind of dog you want.
I would like to get a Great Dane and name him Quagmire.
They also want to know about the star necklace you’ve worn.
It was actually given to me by our stylist, Miles, at a merch shoot for the Top 10 tour we're going on. He gave it to me. I thought it looked kind of cool. I put it on and he explained to me what the vibe of the necklace was It s supposed to mean captured by fame: It’s got these two handcuffs kind of holding a star. I think given the context, its kind of fitting. You mentioned the phrase ‘everything I say is scrutinized' well that kind of plays into the necklace.
Talk about the process of picking and arranging songs for “Idol.” Is it all up to the contestants or does the band or someone else help?
The arrangements and song selection is all the contestant. Every week obviously with the themes we’re given parameters. But it’s on us. As far as the finished product, we send our notes on the arrangements to the band and they do what they can with those notes.
From that there is a little give and take. They give us as much time as possible to make sure we’re able to make the song suit what we want to do. But it’s on us.
Do you have a favorite?
I have to say “Music of the Night.” I’d gone into the week with a little bit of momentum, I guess, and had kind of done a lot as far as rearranging and felt as though people expected it of me. So at that point to be able to do this song straight and it was something I knew I could do because I have a theater background which is something I didn’t think a whole lot of people knew. So I was excited about that week. To do it straight ad have it be unexpected was a nice break for me.
During Dolly Parton week, you had to get some medical attention and there were all kinds of reports out there. What do you want to say about that?
Just that it was probably the first inkling to me that my life had really changed. It was so strange. It was such a precautionary thing. I was in no immediate danger. I’ve got genetically high blood pressure and it just spiked a little bit. It was nothing major. I wasn’t in any risk of death or anything. It was a precaution. It got blown so far out of proportion.
I learned a really important lesson and the lesson I learned is that 98 percent of this whole celebrity thing is so absurd. It’s nice to have some name recognition to be able to use for the things that are important to me. But I’d heard some news stations reported said that I died. I thought that was such a gross miscalculation. All you can really do is laugh about it. It was hard for me to wrap my head around it. I found it to be so abnormal that all I could do is laugh it off and move on.
What do you want to say to all the viewers and fans who are wondering about your brother Adam and the rest of your family?
All I can really say about it is thank you. To see everybody show such a huge level of support for my family’s well-being is amazing. Moving forward, every little bit helps. Donations and giving of yourself: To people who have done it and will continue to do so, all I can say it thanks
Looking back a month, what are your impressions of your homecoming?
To see that kind of support for a nerd who got lucky on a TV show, to see that many people rally around, it definitely recharged my battery going into the end of the season. I honestly have to credit a huge part of this win to that. To know that win lose or draw, I got that many people in my corner is pretty heavy.
So now it’s full steam ahead on the album?
We started the writing process yesterday. Once we get the producer mapped out, its gonna be kind of full steam ahead. We’re gonna be tracking this record while I’m on tour, which is a little bit of an interesting process. … I want to get this record out tomorrow, if possible. Obviously that’s not. So the goal now is to get this record done as fast as possible and trust your instincts and trust your guts and let the record speak for itself. I want it to be a snapshot of where I’m at.
Will you release anything digitally? Your “Idol” songs went crazy on iTunes.
I still have not wrapped my head around that, to see the single doing as well as it is and to have that many people spend their hard-earned money on these songs is amazing.
For me, I want this record to do well because obviously if it does well then I get to do another one. So for me the goal is to get the record out in a fashion that keeps people invested and makes this whole thing feel successful. I said after the finale that this is hopefully the next phase in the relationship between me and the people who support me and I want them go feel as much a part of the process as I do.
However we do that, if it means putting these songs out digitally a little early or do a little extra touring more, I’m down for all of it. I’m certainly in the position I’m at based on people investing not only themselves but their phone bills in me.
Will any of your “Idol” recordings make the album?
The option is always there. I don’t know if it’s something we’ve necessarily discussed in any serious length. For me I want the record to have a flow to it, so if any of those songs add to the flow then maybe. I said on the show I’m not much to look back. So for a song I’ve already done to make the record it’s going to have to be a situation where it fits.