More than a year ago, a former bartender with spiky hair and an afternoon shadow won Season Seven of “American Idol,” a home-audience participation reality TV show that turns normal people into rock stars.
His schtick: Surprising the “Idol” by reimaging the songs he was covering. David Cook performed “Always Be My Baby,” a hit for Mariah Carey. And he did Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” — but a slower, growlier version. He seemed to make judge Paula Abdul more dizzy each week.
Cook performs at 8 p.m. today at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Auditorium. His self-titled album was released in November and includes the songs “Light On,” “Come Back to Me” and “Time of My Life.” The band Needtobreathe opens the show.
Recently, Cook talked about being on the show, Michael Jackson and the surprising response he got from some teenagers at a Baton Rouge food court. Here are the outtakes from the interview that appeared in Wednesday’s News Tribune.
WHAT SORTS OF THINGS DID YOU LEARN FROM PREVIOUS WINNERS OF ‘AMERICAN IDOL’?
Really, all I did [learn] from watching them, was realizing everybody’s kind of got their own way of going about it. There’s a million different ways to make something like this work. I kind of just took the fact that you have to create your own path, and that’s what I’ve tried to do.
HOW DID YOU APPROACH THE JUDGES?
I took their critiques for what they were, but sometimes fortunately, sometimes unfortunately, you kind of leave yourself up to the American voters.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR EVER-CHANGING APPEARANCE?
Everybody thinks it was such a planned deal. It really wasn’t. It was dumb luck. I hadn’t had my hair cut in a long time. When I got on the show I had really long hair. That was more out of necessity than anything. I just didn’t have the money to pay for a haircut. Yeah, and then it just kind of happened when it happened. I literally woke up late a couple times that week and forgot to shave.
DID YOU EVER GET A RESPONSE FROM THE VARIOUS ARTISTS YOU COVERED ON ‘IDOL’?
I remember hearing through the grapevine some nice things Lionel Richie had said. And then I remember reading some-thing Chris Cornell said about “Billie Jean,” because I did his version of it on the show.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
Whatever everybody is listening to. We as a band have pretty eclectic taste: CKY, Crash Kings … It kind of jumps all over the place … As I Lay Dying. Stuff like that.
WHAT IS A NORMAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
A normal day … probably roll into whatever city we’re playing in anywhere between 10 and 2 on a bus … go through press, do sound check. Usually get a shower. Walk on stage anywhere between like 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., play a show, hop on the bus, go to the next place. Somewhere in all that I feed my dog. [Dublin, a Scottish Terrier.]
I love it. I get to do two of my favorite things everyday which is travel and play music. It’s probably my favorite part of the gig.
HAVE YOU BEEN CALLED ON TO DO ANY BARTENDING SINCE WINNING?
I think it happened once right after the finale, I got asked to bartend for an article for a magazine. I thought
"This is cool, this will be fun.” And then I go there and I was like “Oh … I don’t know how to make anything." It was kind of a nightmare. The money went to charity… that was good.
DO YOU MISS THAT JOB?
Noooooo … I’m getting to do what I love to do everyday. This beats that. Hands down.
WHAT OTHER SURPRISES ARE AHEAD?
Hopefully a lot. I really got a kick out of messing with people’s expectations every week. For me, we put out this record, we’ve been lucky to see it do well and, yeah, I’m looking forward.
With the next record, we want to take the ideas and some of the themes of this record and expand on it. Outsell this one, I guess.