“American Idol” winner and Leesburg native Phillip Phillips is a man of few words.
But he’s not a brooding, Clint Eastwood type. He’s more of the aw-shucks, happy-go-lucky variety of star.
He’ll bring his humble charm and musical chops Sunday to the sold-out “Idols Live” tour stop at Gwinnett Arena in Duluth.
And since he’s still recuperating from intensive kidney stone removal surgery a few weeks ago, he’s also going to be a man of economy in terms of movement. You won’t be seeing him running around or busting out any fancy dance steps on stage – or off.
“I’m just getting as much rest as I can, taking it slow,” he said, in a phone interview last week from a tour date in Glendale, Ariz.
During the interview, he discussed his “Idol” experience, desire to be a working musician and his upcoming first album:
AJC: You have now done 15 cities out of 45. How’s it been going?
Phillips: It’s been a lot of fun. And tiring also. We’re all getting as much sleep as we can. It’s coming along very well.”
AJC: I know you get this question every day since you had your kidney surgery but how are you feeling?
Phillips: I’m doing good. I really don’t try to do much.
AJC: Are the other “Idol” contestants bugging you about it?
Phillips: They’ll hassle me over it a little bit but not too much. They’re there to take care of me. It’s all good.
AJC: How comfortable is the tour bus?
Phillips: It’s very comfortable. We all sleep like babies. The guys do, at least. The worst part is if we have only a two-hour drive to the next city and have to wake up to go into the hotel. I prefer when we have long drives.
AJC: You were an early favorite to win the show and you did. Did any of that cross your mind while you were competing?
Phillips: Man. I tried not to think of anything like that when I was on the show. I just went out there each week playing music. It’s just a TV show. We were all out doing our best. People would get upset over who was eliminated. We all support each other. I honestly blocked out everything.
AJC: How much time have you spent in Georgia since you won the show?
Phillips: Zero percent. None. I’m excited to come to Duluth, eat some Southern food somewhere.
AJC: I expect a lot of your friends and family are coming up from Leesburg?
Phillips: We get a day off so I’ll get to spend some time with friends and family. I’m really excited to see them.
AJC: Have you had much of a chance to see your girlfriend?
Phillips: We’ve seen each other a few times. She’s doing great, supporting me 100 percent.
AJC: How long did it take after your surgery before you could sing or play guitar?
Phillips: It was at least two to three weeks. I couldn’t even bend over or anything. It would hurt to sit up. I just sat and stared at the TV or the walls for hours. I got a little paranoid! It was horrible. I hope the rest paid off.
AJC: Are there any foods you can’t eat?
Phillips: Mostly anything with calcium. I can’t take too much caffeine. And I can’t drink too much sweet tea, which sucks. I love sweet tea- especially my mom’s sweet tea.
AJC: How likely will it be that you’ll have more kidney stones?
Phillips: We’re working on preventing it. I may have them my whole life. I just have to prevent them from getting too big so they can pass.
AJC: You don’t get on stage until 90 minutes into the show. What do you do until then?
Phillips: It depends on the day. I might write. Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie.
AJC: How far along are you on the album?
Phillips: We’ve recorded 15 songs I’ve written. I’m still writing, trying to get as many songs as possible.
AJC: What type of music should we expect?
Phillips: It’s going to be rock with jazz and funk. Some songs will be acoustic. We’re still messing around with the songs. I’m excited to get them out there.
AJC: You haven’t travelled much before this tour. What’s been your favorite food so far?
Phillips: I ate some Chicago-style pizza for the first time. It was pretty different, took me a few bites to get used to it. I actually liked it.
AJC: Do you enjoy being on the road?
Phillips: I am. I am getting to see so many different cities. I’m not trying to be a huge star. If it happens, it happens. I just want to play music for the rest of my life and make a living at it.
AJC: Are you looking forward to your own tour bus?
Phillips: If I can afford it? Else, I can see myself driving little vans!
AJC: What’s it like being fawned over like a rock star?
Phillips: It’s strange to have people wanting my picture or autograph. I’m still feeling weird about it. But I love meeting new people. It’s just fun to get to hear their stories. They inspire me to keep going and keep writing music and keep doing my thing.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk