We talk with former American Idol contestant James Durbin about his current summer tour with Buckcherry and Drowning Pool, and how he deals with obstacles in his life.
[By Monica Harris, Photo above by Michael Scott Slosar]
Q. First of all, are you on tour right now?
James: We’re beginning the tour. We actually just started driving yesterday. Our first show on this leg is in Tacoma, Washington, Hell’s Kitchen. Then up to Canada for a festival and then some shows with Buckcherry and then followed by shows with Drowning Pool as well as some headliners. It’s a fun summer. We’re looking forward to it. We’re just getting started out, rolling into it slow and steady. I think as soon as tomorrow comes and we all hit the stage and get back in our groove, it’ll be like we never ended.
Q. Speaking of touring, what are some of your favorite places that you have traveled to, or that you’re looking forward to going on this tour?
James: Long island was great this last tour. Carlsbad, New Mexico was really good. Columbus, Ohio. I’m really looking forward to the Boise music festival that’s coming up, that’s going to be a trip. Its me, fellow hometown singer Chris Rene, who was on the X Factor, we’re both from Santa Cruz. And Kelly Pickler, Smashmouth and LL Cool J is headlining. So its going to be interesting. We’re probably going to be the heaviest band on that day.
Q. That’s quite a lot of different types of music.
James: I think that brings a little bit of excitement to it. There’s going to be all kinds of people and all different kinds of tastes in music and genres. Its going to be a lot of fun. Growing up, you know, Smashmouth was my era, in middle school, listening to them at the dances and everything. So that’s going to be funny and awesome. Like a throwback. And Chris Rene, of course, hometown guy. And Kelly Pickler, fellow Idol alum. And LL Cool J — its funny. If someone would have told me four years ago, Hey, James, when you’re 23 you’re going to be opening for LL Cool J! [Laughs].
Q. Will there be any meet and greets on this tour?
James: Usually we go out, after the show, or after Buckcherry plays, or Drowning Pool. We’ll sometimes wait a little bit and take our time, especially right after our show. But yeah, we kind of toss them around. Sometimes there are specific meet and greets, and those are usually done by a local radio station. I think mostly we’re just really focused on putting on a kick ass show for everyone. Especially if we feel we’ve done our absolute greatest, then we’ll definitely go out and sign autographs outside after the show. The band is always walking around the venue and watching the headliners. We’ll be around for people to find us.
Q. Did you watch American Idol this year, and did you have any favorites?
James: My wife and I watched off and on, you know when I was on the road and everything, and I kind of kept up on it. I’d say our favorites were Josh and Skylar.
Q. Are you working on a new album right now? And what kind of music will it have?
James: We are going to start working on the next record in September. We’re all bringing together our song ideas and jamming on new things. As far as the style of music, I’d love to say what I’d love to do, but I don’t want to jinx it. That all can change once we get in the studio. If the energy’s flowing, and that’s where’s its going, then that’s where it will end up. But the producer is amazing. He’s a guy I’ve written with before, written one song in particular off the first record, “Memories.” Just really looking forward to it. I definitely have my goal of where I want to go. The first record was thrown together really quickly, so we’re gonna take it a little slower, and now I have my band. We’re really keen on working together and writing together. Gonna be in Nashville for a month and a half, living in Nashville, while we write and record.
Q. So you’re going to begin working on it in September?
James: Yes. From September 1st on.
Q. Do you know what your next single is going to be from the current album? Will you be releasing another single this year?
James: We were talking about. We were pretty close to doing so. But at this point it doesn’t really look like it. We’re real heavy on touring right now, we’re touring so much and playing so many shows, that’s our publicity, that’s what we’re doing to get ourselves out there. We’re more focused on being a top player in the touring industry for rock. Its hard to get music on rock radio, especially being from Idol. And if I can get the touring audience in my support, then radio audience should be no problem. So I think the next single will be released probably in December or January, and it will be off the next record.
Q. Your Canadian fans want to know when you’ll be on radio in Canada.
James: I do not know. Hopefully by the next record, next year. We’re going to be doing a lot of things we haven’t done and going outside the box, and outside the country, and all over the world and expanding. I feel I’ve shown America who I am and what I do, and what better reason to go outside the box. On the Idol tour we went to the Philippines for two shows, I have a good fan base over there, great fans. Hopefully we’ll go over there, and maybe Japan, maybe the UK. Who knows? The sky’s the limit.
Q. You also do some drawing. Can you tell us about that?
James: I design all of our merch. Most of it is direct from my drawings. They lift them off the paper and put them on t-shirts. I’m working on a few designs right now. I just realized — I have a lot of shirts. [Laughs]. There’s a lot of shirts in my store, its funny.
Q. Let’s talk about the documentary that’s coming out about Tourette’s Syndrome. Can you tell me how you got involved with that?
James: I was doing Idol, it was right after I got the proverbial boot. In the literal sense, actually. And my management came to me with an opportunity to do an on-camera interview and I asked them what it was about and they said a young guy who had gone through a lot of the things I had gone through, had Tourette’s and he had OCD. It was inspiring. What better way to bring attention to Tourette’s and Aspergers than to tell my life story and share my story with someone else who’s gone through the same exact thing. So I did the interview, played a couple songs for him, hung out with the guy, Ariel Small, for the day, and that was it. And then about a month ago, on our last tour, I took a couple days off in New York and did CNN and interviews and radio and promotion with Ariel. He’s a great kid. He’s just graduating high school. Off to college. Gonna be an engineer. Tourette’s and Aspergers can be limiting. But there’s no limit to what you can do with them. I think that’s the message that we’re trying to put out.
Q. How do you keep such an optimist view on life after having to go through so many obstacles?
James: Obstacles are just that — they’re a blockade in the way of you having a good time. You find a way around them, you find a way to get through them. You have to break through it. You have to break through it and kick ass and fight on.
For more on James visit his official site: Durbinrock.com
UPCOMING TOUR DATES:
6-29- TACOMA , WA – Hell’s Kitchen- Headline
7-01 – GIBBONS, ALBERTA – BOONSTOCK FESTIVAL
7-03 – BRANDON, MANITOBA – Houston’s with Buck Cherry
7-04 – PRINCE ALBERT, SASK – Art Hauer Center with Buck Cherry
7-05 – SASKATOON, SASK Odeon with Buck Cherry
7-07 – BOISE, ID – RADIO FESTIVAL –
7/10 – SOUTH BEND, IN – Club Fever with Drowning Pool
7-12- LANSING, MI – The Loft – Headline
7-13 – KANSAS CITY, MO – KC Live Power and Light Dist. with Buck Cherry
7-14 – CHESANING, MI – Showboat Rockfest- festival
7-15 – NEWPORT, KY – Thompson House with Drowning Pool
7-17 – FAYETTEVILLE, AR – George’s Majestic – with Drowning Pool
7/18 – TEXARCANA, AR – Shooter’s – With Drowning Pool
7-19 – MIAMI, OK – Buffalo Run – With Drowning Pool
7-27 – CHICAGO, IL – RIDGE FESTIVAL
8-9 – LOS ANGELES– Canyon Club
8-10 – LOS ANGELES – UNIVERSAL WALK – headline
8-11 – TEMPE, AZ -Martini Ranch
8-12 – SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA – Coach House