James Durbin Teases Tour Plans, Reveals Ultimate Pop Icon
James Durbin was always an ‘American Idol‘ favorite over at PopCrush, consistently delivering edgy, rock-metal paired with an unrestrained, high-pitched wail that would make Rob Halford jealous. He may not have snagged the show’s winning prize, but he got something even better — a deal with Wind-Up Records and a debut studio album, ‘Memories of a Beautiful Disaster,’ which drops on Nov. 21.
The Durbs stopped by our office (home to PopCrush and sister site Loudwire) not only to perform some raw acoustic versions of his tracks — the pop-laden single ‘Love Me Bad‘ and explosive ‘Right Behind You’ among others — but also to discuss a few of his co-writes (one an ode to his finacee Heidi), his upcoming tour plans, and his ultimate pop idol whom he claims “oozes talent.”
You co-wrote five of your songs off of your album. Which song you are really proud of and most impressed by?
I don’t know if they credited it but I co-wrote ‘Right Behind You,’ and man I love that song ‘Right Behind You’ — and ‘Screaming.’ ‘Screaming’ I co-wrote with David Cook who was in there on that — and they’re just two really really fun songs that I have so much fun singing because it’s like I feel something else in those songs. ‘Right Behind You’ is just intense, emotional; it’s just got that vibe and I love that vibe.
How was working with [‘American Idol’ alum] David Cook?
It was great, he’s a really cool guy, just real chill. I had no clue but he’s a really, really great guitar player, just really good. He was jammin’ and it was just cool to watch. It was cool to see that, you know, a different side of someone that you don’t see on TV.
With your album coming out at the end of the month, do you have plans to do a big tour next year? Are you going to headline with anybody else, and if so who would that be?
We’re looking it over. A really, really, really big name just came into the mix and we’re all just petrified. If that happens even for just a couple shows it would be like ‘wow.’ [Laughs] It’s just oh my God, just even the thought of the possibility that this could happen, is just jaw hit the floor. Just trying to figure stuff out for late January, early February to get on a big national tour.
But you’ll start touring sometime right after the new year or sooner?
Early December before Christmas — like a two-week thing. My whole thing is I just really can’t wait to put [out] this record and just give it to the fans, not just via Best Buy, Walmart, iTunes and Amazon. I want to give it to them, like hand it to them on a silver platter in a shed or in an arena or stadium or even in a freakin’ parking lot on a stage. I don’t care where it is, if there’s people there, they’re going to get one hell of a show. I just can’t wait.
You’re getting married at the end of the year to Heidi — congratulations! Can you talk a bit more about the track on your album, ‘Higher than Heaven,’ which you’ve said was written about meeting her and how she changed your life?
Yeah the song was a co-write with myself, James Michael from Sixx: A.M. and Marty Frederickson. We were kind of sitting there throwing ideas back and forth and I had mentioned that I really want to have a song on the album just really about my situation, my most recent situation that is. So we started writing and it became ‘Higher Than Heaven.’ I was at a down point in my life and just on a downward spiral, nowhere to go, dropped out of high school, just started hanging out with the wrong crowd and didn’t have a job, didn’t have a license, didn’t have any aspirations, no goals, no nothin’. I just didn’t f—-in’ care as long as I could get a cheap high … It’s sad, [well] it wasn’t that bad — I was just smoking freakin’ pot — but I don’t do that s— anymore, it’s bad for you; and so there I was and when I least expected it, I met Heidi. I’ll just [recite] you some of the lyrics.
“What was love / Something that I just dreamed of / Somewhere in the corner of my heart / Rippin’ and tearin’ me apart / I was numb and had my demons / I gave up you gave me reason / Going insane / I was on a one way train / Surrounded by my so called friends / This ain’t where the story ends or where it begins / I was numb and had my demons / I gave up but you believed / Angels saved me / God forgave me / But you alone take me higher than heaven.”
So it’s just a bada— way of saying ‘I’m forever grateful to you and I love you with all my heart and forever.’ She really changed me and made me a better person. Without her I don’t know where I’d be right now, probably just be in the same place I was before at my mom’s in my room.
Your track ‘Everything Burns’ was a demo with Ben Moody and Avril Lavigne; instead of recording it as a duet you decided to go solo. First, why did you decide to do that and second, would you ever consider recording with Avril, or is there another pop star that you would be interested in collaborating with?
I don’t really think there’s anybody in pop that I would want to collaborate with except The Biebs. [Grins] I actually just recently found out that Ben Moody had released that song like a couple years ago with a couple different singers on it so it’s the one cover on the record. Yeah, I heard it as a duet but I wanted it to be something I could perform live, I didn’t want to hear someone else’s voice on it and then go live and it’s like ‘Aw well I like that part and they’re not singing,’ and it’s like [the fans] lose something if they have a connection to the song and something doesn’t happen that happened on the record … [If] that person isn’t singing or I’m not singing on a certain part then they lose that live. So I just wanted to give them me and all of me.
… [But] I would absolutely be floored, floored if I could ever do a duet with Jared Leto, absolutely floored. The dude is unbe-fu—ing-lievable; as far as rock or pop, [30 Seconds to Mars] is very cross over and they just have this sick cult following and he just oozes talent.
My favorite record is ‘A Beautiful Lie’ — like my favorite record of the past 10 years is ‘A Beautiful Lie.’ It’s unbelievable, I can listen to the entire record.
So what’s your favorite track off the record?
‘From Yesterday’ is my favorite track. The video for it is unbelievable too and I think Jared Leto directs the video as well. He’s 40 and he looks younger than me!
Watch James Durbin Perform an Acoustic Version of ‘Love Me Bad’
Watch James Durbin Perform an Acoustic Version of ‘Right Behind You’