David Cook, winner of Season 7, has been touring almost nonstop since the end of his “American Idol” run.
He knows he has to strike while the “Idol” iron is hot before forging his own true post-”Idol” career. Touring is the ticket in this day and age. And Cook, who has honed his stage skills for years before he came on the show, is having no trouble selling tickets for venues such as the 2,500-capacity Tabernacle November 23.
Cook wasn’t originally planning to come to Atlanta for this current Declaration tour, which was set to end over the summer. But with sales going so well, he extended the tour into December.
Burnout alert? Cook denies being cooked.
“I’m good, man,” said Cook, who was on the phone between gigs in Ontario, Canada. “My life is pretty much my job. I sleep as much as my job allows me. I expend most of my energy on stage. It’s great cardio!”
His first post “Idol” album has actually done well, selling 1.2 million copies. (Only a handful of albums in this day of downloads ever reaches that mark.) And he has three hit singles under his belt, counting his “Idol” coronation song. ”Fortunately, we were able to put out a good record people rallied around, which has been really cool,” he said.
I joked that he won’t be like half the Idols and go Broadway. “No,” he said, with a chuckle. “Not yet. It’s kind of bittersweet [ending the tour.]. I’m looking forward to the next challenge. I imagine I’ll be happy to be off the road for like three days. Then I’ll get restless.”
He managed to get two weeks “off” from tour in late October but said he ended up running around anyway – including taping a segment for Carrie Underwood’s upcoming special. There, he and Carrie sang, of all things, Van Halen’s “Why Can’t This Be Love.”
(”Carrie has managed to become a cool friend,” he said. “Through the whole process, she reached out. When she asked me to be part of the special, I jumped at the chance. Anything where I get to be next to one of the most successful country acts is a good thing.”)
Once the tour is over Dec. 2, “I’m just looking forward to spending the holidays with family and hanging out with my dog and being a homeowner.” Yes, he used some of his hard-earned cash to buy real estate — in Kansas City. He decided not to go Hollywood and stick to his Midwestern roots.
He said he has no girlfriend since the breakup with former “Idol” contestant Kimberly Caldwell. Too busy, he said.
His coolest celebrity meeting: becoming friends with Steven Van Zandt, part of the E Street Band. “It’s strange when he’s in the crowd [of my concerts,]” he said. “I’m exponentially more nervous. Afterwards, I’m picking his brain. ‘Was it okay? What did I do wrong?’ Very sweet guy. And honestly, it’s very awesome to have him as a friend.”
He has seen Bruce Springsteen’s three-hour marathon concerts and remains in awe. “He doesn’t even sing slow songs. In San Diego. our opener had to bail so we had to cover two hours. I got off stage, ‘Oh my god! I’m going to die!’ To see Bruce at age 60 chliling it for three hours on stage – it’s a humbling experience!”
On singing Cutting Crew’s “(I Just Died) In Your Arms Tonight” during concerts: “We used to cover that in Tulsa. My rhythm guitarist was the lead singer. We were talking about messing around with it during a break before the second leg of the tour in June. We dropped it a full step into C sharp. It fit my voice. We were able to do our own thing… People may not know who sang the song but everybody kind of knows the song. It’s cool to us, something that transcends an age bracket. And it’s not something you expect to hear.”
“Sure beats ‘The Safety Dance,’ ” I mused, thinking up ’80s songs. Cook laughed. “Or ‘Rock Me Amadeus.’ ”
“Didn’t Bloodhoung Gang cover that?” he asked.
I had no clue. I checked later. That band did sample “Rock Me Amadeus” so Cook knows his Bloodhound Gang!
His thoughts on Paula Abdul’s departure (I know, I know, this is well past due but it’s still relevant): “Paula’s such an integral part of the process. I’m bummed she’s not there. I’ve met Ellen on her show. It’s funny. Off camera, she’s all about Idol. She’s really knowledgable.”
Here are his answers to questions from fans:
Do you still get nervous before going on stage? – Jane Robinson, Wisconsin
Yah. I do. It’s more manageable now. I think if there ever comes a time I don’t get nervous, it’s time for me to figure something else out. I’ve been able to perform my best when I have those butteflies.
Will there be a live concert CD or DVD – Jane again.
As of right now, it’s too early. But I’d like to do it down the road.
Do you find Tweeting a chore or do you enjoy it? – Jane again.
A bit of both. It’s something else that consumes my being at this point. I try to make it as fun as I can. Hopefully I never tweet anything overly mundane, maybe something intelligent.
How do you measure success as a professional musician and as a person? – Jen, a truly dedicated fan who has seen him 50 times (not a typo there!)
As a human being, just being happy. As long as I’m enjoying where I’m at, I’m being successful. As a professional musician, I think being able to play to a big crowd and being able to put out a good record, everything else just falls into place.
Is it unnerving or comforting to see familiar faces in the crowd? – Jen again.
If people want to come out for one show or 200 shows, come on out. We’re just happy people show up!
How did the appearance on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (airing next year) go? – Sharon Baker (geminigal on Davidcookofficial.com)
It kind of happened real quickly. Actually the town we did it in was right next to my mom and dad’s birthplace. It was a chance to do something that had nothing to do with the tour or Idol. It was doing something for someone else. I had a great time. I did a little bit of everything. Put up some drywall, helped design some rooms, did some stone sheeting on the front facade. They had me all over the place. It was heartwarming to see a family that deserved it.
A third single in the offing from the album? – Sharon again.
As of right now, this record’s cycle is done. I’ve learned never to say never but I plan to just get busy on the next one.
Anything you learned from this long tour? (Actually my question)
Audience connection. Every crowd is different. It’s a matter of giving a great show to everyone of those audiences no matter what vibe you’re getting.
What does the tattoo 14 stand for on his arm? – Vicki Smith (who sent 32 questions but I was almost out of time)
I’ve been asked a lot but I’ll never tell!
Besides golf and baseball, any other outdoor activities you enjoy? – Vicki again.
Man, that’s really it. I like sports in general, the camaraderie, the team vibe, especially when I was younger.
Why do you like cowboy boots so much – Vicki
Growing up in Kansas City, moving to Tulsa, you just see them everywhere. It’s comforting.
Any details on the new album – Jaclyn Queen
It’s hard to say at this point. We’re still in the early stage.
Does it bother you that things you say in concerts, interviews or just about anywhere gets quoted and analyzed ad nauseum on fan sites? If so, do you feel pressure to draw the line between Celebrity David Cook and Private David Cook? – Deborah Clevinger.
That’s a tough line to toe. I’ve tried to maintain some semblance of a private life. Past that, I don’t know. I’ve seen everything I’ve said analzyed. A lot of cases, it’s misconstrued a little bit. But if you can’t control it, laugh like hell. I think I’d lose my mind if I had to mentally stop before I said anything.
David Cook (The Script opening)
152 Luckie St., Atlanta GA
November 23, 2009, 7 p.m.
$26.50 (floor), $32.50 (reserved)
www.livenation.com, $12 to $12.20 per ticket extra fees