James Durbin’s American Idol Journey Came to an Unexpected End

Courtesy: FOX/Michael Becker

America got it wrong last week on American Idol with the elimination of James Durbin, but it won’t be the last time and it certainly wasn’t the first time. The 22-year-old metal enthusiast from Santa Cruz, Calif. was eliminated after two great performances: Journey‘s Don’t Stop Believin’ and The Clovers’ Love Potion No. 9.

It brings to mind the early exits of Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry from the singing competition and how little effect it had on their long-term future success. One can only hope the same for Durbin, who singlehandedly is hoping to bring back metal music. He used what time he could on American Idol to showcase the genre to the approval of Steven Tyler.

But Durbin caught America’s attention for more than his singing ability and now he talks about planning his wedding, how he dealt with Asperger’s Syndrome and, of course, his plans for a future album.

What was going through your mind when your name was called?  It was a huge shock.

James Durbin: Wow.  That’s insane.  Wow.  It’s been a real whirlwind of emotions, but I’ve been really thinking about why I came on this show and why I even auditioned in the first place, and I’m brought back to those feelings.  It’s for my family and it’s to try and give a voice to a genre of music that seems like it’s slowly fading away.  I just really accomplished a lot on the show and I’m just really grateful and thankful for the opportunities.

You finished fourth, and that was the same time that Chris Daughtry went out. When he went out he said that he was kind of glad that he didn’t win Idol because he thought that would have ruined his rock and roll cred.  What do you think about that for yourself?

James Durbin: That makes plenty of sense, but winning would have been just great too.  I don’t know.  There’s the first instinct when you’re up there and Ryan says, “You’re going home.”  First instinct is like, “Gosh, I wanted to win so badly, and it feels like I failed.”  But now thinking about it, it’s like, “I haven’t failed at all.”  This is just the beginning.  It’s like a roller coaster but it’s not how you would think.  You would think, “Wow, you’re on Idol. The roller coaster is doing all of its turns and loops and corkscrews,” but that’s not it. Idol is still just clicking up the track before it drops down into the craziness, and so I’m still clicking.  I’m still just clicking up the track, and it’s amazing.

How were you affected by the Tourette’s and the Asperger’s?

James Durbin: When I was a kid, I took medication and when I was about 16, I just decided, “I’m not going to let a manmade substance control me.  God made me a certain way, and I’m perfect in His eyes.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m just going to run with it and I’m going to be me.”  So I’ve been looked at funny.  Who cares?  I don’t care. I’m different. I’m a freak.  Different is the new normal.  If you’re not different you’re not in.

Can you talk about what your record might sound like?

James Durbin: Man, it definitely has to have a real throwback feel, you know. Holy Diver is probably my favorite album or Neon Nights by Black Sabbath with Dio, All Marshals, definitely All Marshals and Les Paul.  My guitarist is a total shredder and he’s amazing.  It’s going to be awesome and we’re going to force it on the airwaves, definitely.  It’s no joke. We feel, real strongly about our music and real strongly that it seems like it’s dying out.  That just can’t happen.  It was taken off the list for Grammys, and we’ve got to find some way to get it back out there.

On the encore your fiancée Heidi came up on stage. What was her reaction been and have you seen your son?

James Durbin: I didn’t get to see him last night. He’s back at home with my mom and my sisters and Heidi’s mom. When I was standing up there, I just kept looking over at Heidi and trying to reassure her, “You know, it’s okay.  It’s okay.”  Looking back, what’s the whole reason I auditioned in the first place?  It’s because we couldn’t afford diapers.  I don’t think I’m ever going to have to worry about affording diapers now.

Did she have any words of support for you on the stage?

James Durbin: Just that she loves me, loves me to death, and that’s all that really matters.

Are you going to start planning your wedding?

James Durbin: Yes. Oh, my gosh.

Is there anyone you’re really pulling for in the finale and I guess who were you closest with?

James Durbin: I was definitely closest with all the guys really.  I mean Stefano. Stefano is going to be my best man in my wedding.  Paul‘s going to be one of my groomsman.  We had a little jam band with myself, Paul, Casey, and Stefano.  We won’t go there.  It was just fun just hanging out making up silly songs.  Boy stuff. Songs about boogers, that sort of thing. I have a feeling who might take it, but at this point you can’t really choose.

American Idol continues its search for the next singing sensation tonight at 8 p.m. on FOX.

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