James Durbin was a contestant on season 10 of “American Idol”. James recently released his debut full length album titled “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster”. Media Mikes had a chance recently to talk with James about his experience on the show and what it was like singing with Judas Priest.
Adam Lawton: What was the “American Idol” process like for you?
James Durbin: I originally auditioned for season 8 of the show however I was not in the right spot mentally at that time. I just wasn’t there what so ever in my life. During my time between the two auditions I started a family and really got my life and my priorities together. I was working at a Domino’s pizza and had put in for the day off so I could go an audition. No one knew that I wanted to be a singer. Everyone figured I was just going to be one of the joke contestants so my boss said I couldn’t have the day off. Two days before the audition the owners sat all the employees down and told us they would be closing due to not having any more money. Everyone was laid off and we weren’t doing very well financially at the time. My fiancé and I went to San Francisco and waited and waited to audition. I just ended up going for it and never looked back. I had no idea what things were going to be like once I finally got on the show. You do a lot of waiting in between rounds for your chance to sing and then it’s over. The show is almost like a marathon.
AL: Did you start off auditioning for the main judges?
JD: You actually have 3 pre-auditions before you are in front of the cameras. All that they really show on TV is the final round of auditions and tons of people in the stadium. They never show the first round where upwards of 20,000 show up to sing for 5 seconds in hopes of getting their opportunity.
AL: What was your initial reaction when you were told you would be singing with Judas Priest?
JD: I was told right after I sang “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” during the Top 24 guy’s week. Judas Priest had contacted the show stating they really enjoyed my performance and if I made it to the finale would I be interested in signing with them. I thought holy crap! It’s Judas Fucking Priest and they want to play with me. I was in complete shock. I still am.
AL: What can you tell us about your album “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster”?
JD: The album is being released via Wind-Up Records and was produced by Howard Benson. The title comes from me looking back on moments in my life that I thought were disasters. However after meeting my fiancé and having a child those things that bothered me from the past I can now look back on them and see the beauty and the pain. Those events made me who I am today.
AL: What was the recording process like for you?
JD: Everything on the album is entirely new material. I enlisted the help of some writers who wrote songs specifically for me. They call it personalized song writing. All in all I finished the vocals in two and a half weeks as we were working with a deadline in place. I finished way ahead of time. The process of recording was really fun and learning about everything related to recording was great. I had never done anything of this magnitude before.
AL: Can you tell us about your involvement in the film “Different is the New Normal”?
JD: I was asked by a production team if I would be interested in talking to a young man by the name of Ariel Small. Ariel has tourettes syndrome and was in the process of making a documentary about himself. I immediately jumped on the opportunity. The film isn’t just about tourettes but it brings life to tourrettes and makes it well known. Ariel was inspired by me to make this film. I really respect that and am very honored. Meeting Ariel and seeing how much insight he has for such a young man was great. The title of the film actually came from one of my quotes.
AL: What are your plans for 2012?
JD: Surviving the Apocalypse. (Laughs) I am going to just keep living my dream of being able to sing and make a living by doing so. This really is a dream come true. Huge thanks goes to everyone who has helped me in the process especially my family and fans. I owe everything to my fans. I am working on securing the right tour for 2012 as album sales have been going well so knock on wood things will keep going well.