“American Idol” season 10’s resident metalhead, James Durbin, is sitting with the rest of the Top 11 Idols in USAirways Center’s Toyota Club in downtown Phoenix watching the women’s soccer team lose to Japan.
When he swaggers by for an interview at a table away from the action, you know that he’s still connected, living vicariously through his friends’ screams of near-missed goals.
But Durbin, who famously was eliminated from the show prematurely, landing in fourth place, turns his focus to the reporter when asked about the American Idol Live! Tour 2011, which comes to Joe Louis Arena on Sunday.
“I try and bring everything that I am going to bring to my tour and to my album to this,” Durbin said intently. “This is kind of like the pre-show for my show. It really shows what I can do on a big stage. Every single city that we go to, my whole goal is to show everyone in attendance that I belong on that stage.”
He has several supporters who already believe that.
Stars tweeted their disappointment when Durbin was kicked off after singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” and the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller-penned “Love Potion No. 9.” One such backer is fellow rocker Chris Jericho, a former WWE wrestler who fronts the metal band Fozzy. Durbin’s love of wrestling was evident when legendary grappler Hulk Hogan made a guest appearance on the show.
“That was really cool,” Durbin said with a wide grin. “We exchanged numbers. I’m trying to get him to come out to the Orlando show. I’m going to see if he’s not too busy. It was intense.”
While wrestling is an important part of his character, the loves of his life are his fiancée and son, about whom he was depressed because he’s separated from them due to the tour.
“I’ve never been away from my fiancée before ‘Idol’ or my son,” Durbin said. “Literally, the longest I’ve been away from her is 12 hours. So it’s been tough, you know. I don’t get to see them for two months now. I just saw them and there are no other opportunities. She may fly out once or twice, I hope. We’ll see. It’s hard with the baby.”
Durbin dodged questions about a forthcoming album, other than to say he’s hoping to have “something out by Thanksgiving.” He was under orders not to discuss the collection, although he did let a bit slip out.
“I’m trying to do an album,” he said. “I’m trying to get everything together. The stars are aligning and everything is falling perfectly into place. For a little bit, it seemed like things weren’t going so great. Now things are looking really bright.”
He didn’t elaborate but he did say that believing in himself and “knowing that this won’t all go to waste” helped him through that time.
“I proved a lot and made a pretty big staple for myself on the show and that hopefully people will talk about for a long time,” he said.”It wasn’t just to get on the show. It wasn’t just to sing. It was to make my mark. I’m looking to be a big player in the game. (For my album, I’m) looking to go kind of a My Chemical Romance sort of feel, 30 Seconds to Mars, heavy and very heavy, dramatic. I think I showed some drama on the show. So I’m really excited. It’s a whole ‘nother path of the journey.”
Ironically, he called his performance of 30 Seconds to Mars’ “Closer to the Edge” one of his weaker moments on “American Idol.”
“As soon as I stopped believing in myself, I kind of flopped,” said Durbin, who suffers from Tourette and Asberger syndromes. “That’s the week I did ‘Closer to the Edge’ by 30 Seconds to Mars. The whole performance was pitchy and I totally messed up the last part. I did ‘Without You,’ which was extremely emotional. I kind of lost sight of the goal that week.
“But I brought it back the next week with ‘Don’t Stop Believin” and ‘Love Potion No. 9,’ which I think were both two of my best performances on the show. I’m my own biggest critic and I had absolutely nothing to say about those two performances. I thought that they went perfect. They showed great sides of me as a performer. I was surprised at the kick off. But if I was going to get sent off, what a better way to get sent off than with two kick-ass performances.”
His performances on the “American Idol Live! Tour 2011” aren’t too shabby as well. Besides the group numbers, Durbin is given the chance to shine during covers of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and Muse’s “Uprising.”
But he had one simple message for fans attending the show at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, home to the Detroit Red Wings:
“I’ll be sure to wear my (San Jose) Sharks jersey,” the Santa Cruz, Calif., native said with a sly grin.