“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.
MetalTalk.net recently conducted an interview with bassist Ian Hill of British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
MetalTalk.net: Before I start asking about the [forthcoming album, can you tell us what you thought about your surprise appearance to 30 million unsuspecting Americans on “American Idol”?
Ian Hill: It was a whirlwind! The lad James [Durbin] — we owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing heavy metal to the mass media. For that reason it was something we couldn’t turn down. We weren’t just representing JUDAS PRIEST but the whole heavy metal family, if you like. Because we’d had a couple of hits in the ’80s in the states, people know the band name well. We’re a well-known brand. They may not necessarily associate it directly with the music, but everyone knew the name, so it wasn’t a cold audience. It was fun; we had a great reception!
MetalTalk.net: Moving onto the new album, you have already publicly stated that it’s due next year and will be classic PRIEST. Who will produce the album?
Ian Hill: It’s still at a very early stage, but it will probably be mainly the band. Glenn [Tipton, guitar] will do a lot of the work. We produced “Nostradamus” ourselves with the help of a great engineer in Attie [Bauw].
MetalTalk.net: You did have outside influence on the “Defenders Of The Faith” and “Screaming For Vengeance” albums, via songwriter Bob Halligan Jr. Why was that?
Ian Hill: We’d already done a couple of non-PRIEST tracks in “Diamonds And Rust” and “The Green Manalishi”, which had worked well. It’s really something the record company pushed us to do, to get a commercial track on the radio. It’s funny because by the time we’d finish with the track it’s too heavy to release and we ended up going with one of our own! Bob Halligan‘s a good songwriter but our versions were just too heavy metal to release!
MetalTalk.net: And is your son still in the band HOSTILE?
Ian Hill: Yep, my son’s still in HOSTILE. It’s so difficult to get on now — it’s practically impossible unless you’re on “X-Factor” or “American Idol”. The infrastructure’s not there. It took us ten years to make any money, although we did build our name. Even when we started to earn money it all went back into the band — better equipment, better van… The infrastructure’s not there anymore. Record companies aren’t spending money on new acts. It’s as simple as that. Not unless you’re already famous. My lad’s band’s a great band and twenty years ago they’d have got on. But record companies aren’t investing money they won’t get back. As soon as a record goes on a shelf some idiot is giving it away for nothing online! That’s the problem with the Internet. Because potentially it’s a marvelous channel — totally global — anyone with a computer can access it and release their music to a wide audience. But with no record company money, bands can’t make high-quality recordings. They’re reduced to making records in their garage or bedroom! And even if a band gets on a tour the record company won’t put money into it because they still traditionally get money from record sales.
MetalTalk.net: What does Sony Music get out of JUDAS PRIEST these days?
Ian Hill: Well, as I mentioned, we are a global brand. We do still sell. But now all over the world, so now if we sell as many records globally as we used to do in America alone, that’s working for us. In the past though you went on tour and could break even or make a small loss — because record sales covered it. Now you make a record in order to promote your tour. This why everybody’s coming out of the woodwork! People we haven’t heard of for years are out on the road as their back catalogue’s drying up! It’s ok for us because this is what we’ve always done.
MetalTalk.net: Was breaking the U.S. critical in making PRIEST a global brand then?
Ian Hill: “We did concentrate on America — we admit it. Management and the record company wanted us to do this. But it worked. We’re a band that can tour worldwide. But we started doing what RIVAL SONS are doing now, (opening the show on the night the interview was conducted) supporting — possibly REO SPEEDWAGON, if I remember correctly. And some shows with LED ZEPPELIN.
MetalTalk.net: On which albums do you feel you had most influence?
Ian Hill: Hmmm… let me think… Probably the first two albums — they have lots of bass work on them. And “Jugulator”, that’s got some busy bass! Because we have two lead guitarists with distorted sounds, the bass has to remain clear so I don’t use any effects. I use a pick to help me play quicker and heavier but it remains a foundation. I haven’t changed my style much over the years. The basic JUDAS PRIEST sound is just a good foundation of bass and drums and we build on top of that.
Read the entire interview from MetalTalk.net.
SAN JOSE — James Durbin.
What comes to mind when you think of Durbin, his run on American Idol Season 10 and his fourth-place finish?
Running around in the audience during performances?
The outlandish punk outfits?
The shock at meeting pro wrestler Hulk Hogan on stage?
His love of metal music and his interpretation of a Judas Priest song when we got down to the Top 24?
You probably recall a little bit of all the above.
His love for the “metal” genre was unabashed. At one point he even launched the Idol crowd into a “Give metal a chance” chant.
So, does he really feel that his career path is paved to stardom with “metal” music?
“I’m all over the place, not just strictly metal,” Durbin admitted prior to the American Idol Summer Tour performance here last week. “Yes, the metal route is risky, but everything I did on the show was taking a risk. And it all paid off. So, no matter what I do and no matter where I go I’m always gonna feel satisfied.”
Metal, rock, ballads, soulful singing. It’s doubtful anything could change Durbin’s energy. Last Wednesday night he paraded through the crowd of 12,000, many from his hometown of nearby Santa Cruz, to make his way to the stage. And by the time he arrived to do his versions of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” (Guns & Roses) and “Uprising” (Muse) he had them in a frenzy.
He suffers from Aspergers and Tourette’s Syndrome which are apparent in an interview but disappears while he is performing.
Has he ever been so much as nervous on stage?
“Never, not once,” he explains.
And maybe part of that was in his genes. His father, Willy, was a bass player in a Santa Cruz area band. Willy died of a drug overdose when James was nine. James admitted he had a few memories of his father but not many.
“Before all this Idol stuff,” Durbin said, “I had never really heard or seen any videos of him playing. Now people are coming from everywhere looking back at his stuff and saying, ‘Oh, my God, I have these pictures and these videos.’
“There’s this one lady who has all these tracks, all these live tracks and she had them mastered and sent them to me.
“Yes, it gave me cold chills to watch them. I got this one video of him, I can’t remember what the band was called, but they were the opener for another band playing at UCSC (UC Santa Cruz).
“And the band they were opening for … the bass player was Randy Jackson. I mentioned that to Randy and he remembered the gig.”
And while the memories of watching his dad perform live hardly exist except on tape, the influence of his father is with him on stage.
“He (Willy) was a bass player and sang a lot of backups. Maybe that’s why I am so comfortable on stage, because of him.
“I am always amped and pumped and excited, adrenaline is just pulsating through my entire body … especially when Hulk Hogan is around.”
Durbin started laughing as his own aside.
When Hogan appeared on the Idol stage during the March 24th episode, Durbin came unglued, falling to his knees in mock worship to Hogan.
“That was incredible,” Durbin said of the Hogan moment. And for a wrestling fan, Durbin has been able to live his dream.
“I once drank a beer with the Iron Shiek, and went out on the town with Chris Jericho. I had dinner with Chris and then WWE champion The Miz. That was a very, very crazy night. We were in L.A. on the Sunset Strip at a restaurant called Boas. We went and saw Rod Stewart and Stevie Nix and then the New York Dolls, Poison and Motley Crew.”
And now his musical dream continues.
“I was in a lot of plays as a kid, a lot of musicals, my dad was a bass player. I grew up kinda watching that and it rubbed off on me. I wanted to do it (perform) from the first moment I saw it.”
Within the next week or so I will be doing an exclusive interview with Kathryn McCarney, DurbNet’s resident vocal expert. Topics for the interview will include:
- James’ voice and range
- His pre idol performances
- Those comparisons to Adam Lambert
- The “James can’t sing on pitch” nonsense
- And more
Kathryn has stated in her profile that she is willing to answer any questions about James from the public.
So Durbinators here’s your chance to ask Kathryn about anything “James Durbin”.
Post your questions in the comments below!
Alexia (Durbinator #380)
Even with sprained ankles and inconsistent stage times, “Idol’s” summer trek entertains.
As the 2011 “American Idol Live” tour blasts its way through 47 stages across the continent this summer, the Top 11 are sure to make lots of memories along the way. But Friday’s concert at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater brought plenty back, as the season 10 finalists returned to the spot where the May 25 finale took place.
“I have a lot of good memories from this stage,” Idol’s reigning winner Scotty McCreery said after his first song. “Right here is where my life changed forever.”
One of the elements that made this year such a strong season — musical diversity in that not one of the Top 6 was what you’d call a pop singer — also created a consistently engaging show. From Jacob Lusk’s impressive range with ’60s soul number “You’re All I Need To Get By” to Haley Reinhart’s effortlessly sultry and jazzy take on “Bennie and the Jets” (or “Jetsssss” as she sings in her trademark style) to Lauren Alaina’s powerful country ballads, the two-hour show oozed variety and talent.
Still, throughout the concert, one can’t help but wonder which of its stars are getting their first taste a performer’s life, destined to dazzle audiences around the world, and which ones should be savoring every moment of their summer before they disappear into the “where are they now” category.
If Thia Megia doesn’t make it, she could easily find an alternate career path as a Disney princess, and not just because she performed “Colors of the Wind” on American Idol. Her cover of Selena Gomez’s “Who Says” seemed to be sung right at the scores of young girls in the room as she pointed at the audience and swayed with wavy arms and palms outstretched.
Pia Toscano and Alaina both showed they’re ahead of the game with their own singles — Toscano in particular as she poured more passion into her own “This Time” than any other song on the tour.
But it was the high energy James Durbin who showed he’s most ready for show business. The first chords of his cover of Guns N Roses’s “Sweet Child O’ Mine” immediately got people on their feet. Where for the most part, the audience sat during most of the show, as if they were watching it on their own living room TV, and only reluctantly stood when commanded to by the performers, not when Durbin was onstage.
The 22-year-old rocker livened up the show, leaping off the upper riser, running across the lower stage and leaning against the show’s guitar player while demonstrating his own air guitar prowess. Durbin of course then performed his biggest hit from the season, his cover of Muse’s “Uprising.” No marching-band drum section for the live show, but there were still plenty of crowd-pleasers during the number, like the smoke machines shooting toward the ceiling of the stage that framed Durbin as he held the mic stand like a scepter casting a spell over the audience.
Naima Adedapo was featured in two other stand-out songs. Her cover of Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope,” sung along with Toscano, Reinhart and Megia was the one of the most theatrically pleasing numbers of the night. The screens around the stage displayed fast-moving graphics of black and yellow lines and arrows that seemed to be straight out of an early James Bond opening credits sequence. That paired with the ladies’ Supremes-like synchronized dance moves as they alternated lead singers with the other three expertly backing made for a lively number that felt like it was right out of the Summer of Love.
Adedapo rivaled Shakira with her hip-shaking as she covered Jennifer Lopez’ “On The Floor.” After she sang the lyrics “Straight to L.A., New York, Vegas to Africa” the Milwaukee native wowed the crowd with an interlude of traditional African dancing to African drumming, finishing off with a one-hand cartwheel and split.
McCreery didn’t make his first appearance until part-way through the second half, when he delivered the Josh Turner line that made him an instant national sensation: “Baby lock the door and turn the lights down low.” Though it would have been nice to see him perform more with the others, the crowd went crazy as the 17-year-old country crooner first took to the stage, with mothers and teenagers alike screaming their lungs out. With his line-up of ballads and boot-kickers, McCreery impressively showed that, not only does he have the chops, he knows how to connect with an audience without giving the cameras a constant come-hither look.
Alaina’s sprained ankle made for some limited movement during songs that could have had more complex choreography, like Katy Perry’s “Firework,” but the Season 10 runner-up gave it her all, and that bejeweled cast boot actually made for some sweet moments as her fellow singers held her hand to help her up and down the stage stairs.
Ultimately, what made the concert a fun night out was seeing the Top 11 talent enjoy themselves throughout. For proof, look no further than their final bow, a Journey-Whitesnake-Aerosmith medley, which featured a free-spirit moment when the whole group was just running and jumping around the stage. It ended with Durbin and Casey Abrams striking a Charlie’s Angels pose. As is the nature of American Idol, this group of hopefuls shot to fame in an outrageously short time, but it’s those moments when you realize: with these kids having such a good time, it’s OK to jump out of your seat, too. And that’s a memory worth keeping.
Check out the full set list here.
Durbin Fever, a highly contagious viral infection that raged throughout the U.S. last spring – Santa Cruz County was particularly hard-hit – is expected to spike again locally this week.
That’s right, folks. “American Idol” is back – at least for one evening when the “American Idols Live” tour, featuring Santa Cruz’s own insta-celebrity James Durbin, rolls into the HP Pavilion in San Jose on Wednesday.
“It’s been really good,” Durbin said of the tour so far. “Every single city has been receptive and fun. As soon as I go out – in classic James fashion, from a surprise area in the arena – everybody gets really excited and gets on their feet.”
Durbin, 22, shares the stage with the 10 other top finalists from the recently completed 10th season of Fox’s monster-hit show. The San Jose date will be the sixth concert in a national tour of 45 cities that will stretch into mid-September. It will also be the closest one to Santa Cruz and, as a result, functions as Durbin’s hometown show.
The concert is designed as a showcase for all 11 “Idol” contestants, so “Idol” fans predominantly focused on Durbin will have to wait for the show’s second half to see his solo performance.
Durbin will sing two songs – the Guns N’ Roses classic “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and Muse’s “Uprising” – and will participate in a duo with “Idol” runner-up Lauren Alaina (“Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake), and in group performances of Cee-Lo’s “Forget You” and Neon Trees’
“We have to do the same exact songs every night with no surprises or changes,” Durbin said Monday by phone from Sacramento. “That part really sucks. By the end of the tour, I will never want to hear or sing those songs ever again.”
During his unlikely rise from unknown amateur to America’s hard-rock standard bearer, Durbin established a reputation as a rebel in what is fundamentally a conservative show, bringing a fiery heavy-metal sound to a show historically associated with mainstream pop and country. Durbin is credited to bringing new audiences who otherwise would avoid “Idol.”
In that fashion, he talked of rebelling against the tight stricture of the “Idol” concert during his “hometown” date in San Jose. He said he’ll probably take some time between his two songs to address his Santa Cruz County fans.
“That’s what’s really missing from this,” said Durbin of the show’s structure. “That’s what I love to do. I love to see how the crowd is doing. I like to get them really riled up and excited about everything. But there isn’t room for that because it’s such a long show.”
Even though “Idol” ended more than six weeks ago, with North Carolina country crooner Scotty McCreery finishing on top, Durbin’s life is expected to be frenetic through the end of the year. He and his fiance Heidi are planning their wedding, to take place later this year, while he’s on tour. Plus, there’s the post-“Idol” career plans to work out.
After the San Jose show, the “Idol” tour moves to Los Angeles where Durbin will meet with longtime Aerosmith producer Martin Frederiksen and producer/performer James Michael of the band Sixx A.M., which features Motley Crue frontman Nikki Sixx.
In the meantime, an “Idol” produced five-song recording of Durbin’s best “Idol” performances entered the Billboard 200 charts this week at number 31.
He said he isn’t ready to make any announcements about a new recording deal, but he is looking at songs, as well as writing some material and talking with potential collaborators.
“The stars are aligning,” he said. “Everything is falling into place.”
OK these are the absolute best HD videos of James’ tour solos I’ve found to date!
Sweet Child O Mine:
I’m in absolute awe, I honestly have no words! Huge props to the uploader considering that there were camera restrictions at that venue.
For the record I’m not happy about the amount of stage time James is getting for this year’s Ameirican Idol tour. He did amazingly on the tour’s opening night, though he complained about the high altitude on twitter when he arrived in Seattle. Here are the videos of his two solo performances in HD:
Sweet Child O Mine:
Note the effect of the high altitude in the above performance, how he’s struggling for breath. One needs incredible lung power and breath control to sing this song the way he does.
He wanted to sing 18 & Life for Top 12 week but wasn’t allowed! But finally we get to hear him sing some Skid Row. In the following clip James sings 18 & Life and I Remember You acoustically, and he’s awesome as always:
IMO he could actually release I Remember You as an acoustic cover as it doesn’t sound dated at all, I could totally hear it being played on the radio.