James Durbin Talks “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster,” “American Idol,” Motley Crue’s Mick Mars, and All Things Hard Rock and Heavy Metal

I use to have to shamefully admit that I watched “American Idol.” I wasn’t proud of that fact; I’d always claimed I only watched it because my wife did. Sure there were quasi rock guys like Adam Lambert, Bo Bice, Chris Daughtry etc, but not until this last season was there a true hard rock performer and fan. James Durbin came out of nowhere and literally lit the stage on fire. I got the chance to chat with Durbin about his new album “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster.”

James Durbin: Hello

Zoiks!: Hey James, how are you doing?

JD: Good, yourself?

Z!: Good. Thanks for taking the time to do this with me.

JD: No problem.

Z!: On “American Idol” you showed us a wide range of your rock and metal influences, from the classic Judas Priest stuff to the more modern Muse stuff. What type of album is “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster?”

JD: I’m not going to go out and say that it’s a metal album. I took the aspects of metal that I love and the stirring vocals of people that inspire me like Bruce Dickinson, Dio and Halford and people along those lines. I put it into something that can reach a wide variety of people. It’s a rock album, a hard-hitting hard rock album. It’s got its ballads and it’s absolutely great. I’m just really excited to put it out there and put it in my fans hands and hopefully anybody who likes rock, pop or metal can find something they enjoy in it.

Z!: I don’t know a whole lot about how the whole “American Idol” thing works, but now that you’re done with the show how much input do they have with what you do with your career after the show?

JD: It’s not “Idol.” I’m not under them. I’m under 19 management, managed by Josh Klemme who managed Steven Tyler and Buckcherry for six years. I’m on Wind-Up records. I was able to take my own route. I really have a lot of say in what I want to do and where I see myself and what direction I can go in. I’m really happy about that. I really embrace that. If I could quote Queensryche, “I take hold of the flame.” I design my own merch, I like to be in control.

Z!: What was the song writing process like and did you have any experience in that department before making this album?

JD: I had no experience prior to making the album actually. I mean I’d write my own songs here and there, but nothing I would really put on a record. I got the chance and opportunity to sit down with amazing seasoned writers like Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmth, Ozzy Osbourne), James Michael (Sixx: A.M., Motley Crue) and DJ Ashba (Guns n Roses, Sixx: A.M.) to name a few and Mick Mars, Hardcore Superstar. It’s like these guys have been doing it forever.

Z!: You mentioned Mick Mars, tell me a little bit about that amazing experience?

JD: I got to the studio a little bit before hand. I was heading down to the bathroom trying to squeeze that in…trying to squeeze that out so that I didn’t shit my pants when I met him (laughs). I was finally able to hit the bathroom and in walks Mick Mars. It was pretty crazy. It was funny. As soon as he pulled out the guitar and plugged it in, found his tone, we got to work on finishing the song “Outcast” which is written by Hardcore Superstar an amazing metal band from Sweden, Mick Mars and myself. All through long distance, they sent it over and we tweaked it and went with it. Mick was never the guy that was shredding scales; he was much more than that. His solos and his riffs are so much more recognizable, so much more memorable. It’s absolutely great. He really put his stamp on that song and really brought something great to the record.

Z!: That’s awesome. Just over a year ago nobody really knew who you were, now you have Mick Mars talking about how honored he is to be the only guest on your album, Rob Halford can’t wait to hear your album. How do you take all of this in, in such a short period of time and still remain grounded?

JD: I have a great family. I have an awesome, amazing fiancé. Heidi is my rock. She keeps me grounded, she keeps me humble, and she keeps my head clear of the smog and the smoke and the haze. I owe everything to her; she’s my coach (laughs).

Z!: One thing I noticed on “Idol” was that you seemed to be aware of what you doing and the strategy involved with the show. You seemed like maybe you’d be the next Adam Lambert, he immediately dismissed that, which bugged me. Were you a fan of Lambert when he was on the show and do you think it was good for you that he kind of dismissed any comparison between the two of you?

JD: I was definitely aware of what he was doing. I respected it, I still respect it, he opened the door for someone like me. I actually auditioned that same season and didn’t make it through. I waited a couple more years in between and did my thing. He did his thing I did mine and I respect it, but I don’t know. I extended my hand to the guy and that is where it left off. I really enjoyed his performance, but I don’t know why he would go that far.

Z!: Now that you’re out of “American Idol” you get to deal with the bloggers and sites like blabbermouth with the stupid comments. For every good thing said there are ten bad things said for all artists.

JD: If not more. (Laughs) That’s the whole thing about Blabbermouth. The people that are writing the articles are giving me great reviews and that’s all that matters to me. For every one person that is writing a bad comment there are a hundred people saying great things. I’ve looked at blabbermouth long before I was doing anything on this scale and I knew that people have always written stuff like that. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone from “Idol” or if it’s Dave Grohl, there are always nasty people out there. Like I said, for every one person that writes something nasty a hundred people are saying something great. As soon as you see that nasty comment, that’s what kills you. It’s like, ‘really? Am I really?’ I don’t read that stuff.

Z!: How do you avoid it, do you just not read them at all?

JD: If I find a great article that someone wrote something nice about me then I might read it, but I definitely stray away from the comments section (laughs). There’s a community board on my website, www.durbinrock.com and those are my real fans. Those are the people that are making profiles and making kind words. That’s what I pay attention to, my twitter (@durbinrock) followers, my facebook fan page. Those are the people that are there for me. They’re the ones buying the record; those are the people discovering new fans. They’re out there doing the work on the street team. That’s who I listen to. That’s who I aim to please, not some guy who’s pissed off and hates music and hates what’s going on in music. You can’t please everyone, you can only try.

Z!: Do you have touring plans lined up?

JD: We’re getting that situated. We’ll be doing some here and there stuff to promote the album. I partnered up with the NFL for the rock single “Stand Up,” that song is playing all over the country in every stadium. We have a video up on the titantron or as Chris Jericho would say, the Jeritron 5000. We’re getting a lot of great support from that. Partnered up with the US Army for the song “Right Behind You,” which is on the album. They’re putting the song into USB drives on 100,000 wristbands. Our boys over in Iraq and over seas have those songs on their wristbands, putting the song into their headphones and listening to them while they’re out there doing work. It’s a song that can give hope when you’re out there on the battlefield. It’s also a song that can get you amped up. It’s not just for on the battlefield, it’s for anything that you’re doing that you need inspiration for, it let’s you know that there is always hope.

Z!: I’ve heard two songs so far on the album and I liked them both a lot and I can’t wait to hear the whole thing. I consider myself a fan, thanks for taking the time to do this.

JD: Thank you so much, I really appreciate this, it was great talking to you.

The interview ran long, so there is a part two here.


Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

Share |


Anonymous said...

Great article. Thanks for writing and posting. Love Durbin..love everything I've heard from MOBD album so far.


'Like' Us on Facebook:

Zoiks Online on Facebook

Kevin Smith Pimps Zoiks!: