Lee Dewyze Looks Ahead to Post-’Idol’ Career

by | May 30, 2010 at 7:33 AM | American Idol, Eye on Idol, Interviews, RealityTV, TV News

Lee DeWyze on American Idol's finale (FOX)

Lee DeWyze on American Idol's finale (FOX)

Semi-fresh off of becoming the ninth ‘American Idol‘ crowned, Lee DeWyze took advantage of a chance to open with reporters on a conference call about his frustrations with the show’s the limitations while still expressing gratitude for the opportunity it’s given him.

Asked about his past recordings surfacing on the Billboard charts, Lee preferred to look forward to the album he’ll soon be releasing. He also talked about getting a chance to say goodbye to Simon Cowell, meeting some of the show’s previous winners and contestants and what advice they gave him.

Check it out:

On what he felt America saw in him…
I think that throughout the show — even in the beginning when I was a little more reserved — that I think I’m a real guy, and I stayed true to myself, and I really wanted my experience on the show to be about me, my performing and my music, and I think I can connect with an audience because I know what it’s like to be on the other side of it. I remember all that and I know what it’s like to be starting trying to do something and having a goal and trying to reach it. So, throughout the whole show, I was just trying to be myself and make it about the music and not so much about things in the past or any of that. For me, it was about that moment when I was up there and I put my emotion into every song.

On his past original music resurfacing, including “Slumberland” making its way onto the Billboard “Heatseekers” chart…
As far as anything I did before the show, that was a stage in my life that I’m obviously proud of and I’ve learned a lot from my past experiences with music. It’s cool to hear things like that, obviously, but I’m really looking forward to the album I’m going to be making now. It’s nice that the fans have reached out and found interest in other things I’ve done because that’s what I’m about — I’m about being as original as I can and staying true to myself. But through this experience, this has given me a platform to really, on a major scale, make a really unbelievable album and that’s really what I’m looking forward to now. So … right now I have an album to make and I get to take time on it.

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On having time to work on the album…
It’s interesting, because on the show you have a limited amount of time and I’m the kind of person that, when I’m on stage, I like to build up to something. But, you know, we get a minute and a half, and that’s the game. So that was a challenging part of it all. And so, for me, I’m just excited to get on the big stage and put on a performance without time limits and without judging, and going through the process that I did really helped because those are the scariest conditions you can be under — being judged by people on national television. It’s a rough thing to do, but I’m psyched to make a new album. I’m really looking forward to it.

On meeting the past winners…
Meeting the past winners in the beginning of the show was really almost intimidating because you’ve seen what they’ve accomplished and you just want that. There’s a sense of “I want advice, I want to know how you got through this” and all of these things. And in the beginning it’s different because there’s a lot of us. But, as you get closer to the end, we got to meet more and more of the past Idols and I’ve been able to talk to some of them and they’ve been really amazing. Adam Lambert was awesome on the show, and he’s a real genuine guy and he’s original and I like him and he’s got a good attitude and I think he’s real and he says it how it is, and I like that about him.

On other past Idols he met…
I got to talk to David Cook a little bit and he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve noticed a trend with all the Idols is that they’re all very genuine people and they all know what it’s like to be on the other side of it where I was at. So, talking to David Cook, I got to talk to Kris Allen, Ruben. I saw Carrie for a little bit at the ‘Idol’ party and she was just so supportive. She’s been awesome. There’s a line you cross once you get to this point with everybody and it’s almost like you’ve joined them, in a sense. I see all the accomplishments they have. And, for me, because I won ‘American Idol,’ it’s amazing, but, at the same time, it’s also a new beginning and a time to show what I have and what I can do. So I just look to them for inspiration. They’ve been through the same process and they’ve been able to make their marks on music the way I want to make my mark on music. So to see that they’ve been successful, it’s really awesome.

On whether he got to have a final toast with Simon…
I did see Simon and we “cheers” and he gave me congratulations and he said he was proud of me and was excited to be working with me and I told him thank you for the opportunity, because without ‘American Idol,’ obviously I wouldn’t have had this platform and start on a major level. So it was cool, we got to spend a little time together and talk and it was a moment that I won’t forget because that was a big moment for me.

On “the paint store thing”…
The paint store thing was made into a whole thing this year, being the “average American, working guy.” Initially, I was, like, “Why do they keep talking about that?” But, at the same time, that’s what this is all about — just giving people the opportunity that you would never have had if you wouldn’t have tried out for the show. So it’s good, it keeps me grounded and remembering where I came from and I know what it’s like on the other side.

On being true to himself despite the show’s genre restrictions…
I think a big part of ‘American Idol’ that scares people and has, I’m sure, stopped people from trying out is the fact that you do have to do things that are necessarily your genre. But my thing on the show was that you’re given a song and you do have some say in it. You go with whatever song you have to go with, and the judges say “make it your own,” and sometimes it sounds repetitive when they say that, but, at the same time, you really do. It’s one thing to take the song and play it as it was originally, and if that’s the case and that’s what you want to do, then just go buy the original artist that did it. My thing was I just wanted to take every song and make it a song that Lee sang. We were given free reign to arrange the songs how we wanted and I did, and that was kind of what got me through that part of it. Because if it was just a matter of going through and singing the songs exactly as they were written, that would’ve been a lot more difficult for me. Like, when we did Shania Twain week, that was kind of a rough week for me because it’s so out of my element, but I did what I could with the song and that was one of the tougher weeks. But I think that’s part of the game, though. That’s what ‘American Idol’ is — it’s go out there on stage, play cover songs and do them the best you can your way and make them original, and I think that I was able to do that. It was frustrating at times, I won’t lie. It was, because there were some songs that I would’ve have sang in years, but I signed up for it and that’s the rules, so you play by them and you get by as best you can.

‘American Idol’ Finale Delivers Series-Low Rating

On having his first single be a cover…
As far as the single that they’ve put out, you know, I like the song a lot. It’s a really good song. Is it something that is necessarily in my genre? No. But, again, there were songs on the table and I went with the one that I thought would represent the moment the best because this year they didn’t have an original song written for this specifically. Whatever the reasons for that, there’s reasons. I don’t know all the ups and downs and the behind-the-scenes stuff. But it’s just been a big game of “play by the rules.” And that’s really what it is. If it was up to me, there’s certain things I would’ve done differently. On stage, maybe a little bit longer sets would’ve been cool to be able to get into the songs, as opposed to just, “Ready, go.” But, again, that’s all part of it. Just being able to accept it was the hard part, but once you accept it, you can kind of just roll with it. You can make the song your own and just move on. And it’s cool to listen to the tracks after they’re done.

On how much his hometown visit motivated him to win…
At that point of the competition — by the time you get to that last three weeks, you are just exhausted. There is so much mental stress going on, not in a bad way, there’s just a lot to think about. You want to win, you want to get as far as you can, it’s just stressful. But going back home and being able to play in front of everybody was just the most amazing thing and I’ve been told by so many people, “Man, it just seems so different than when you’re on ‘Idol.’” For me, I play to a live audience. That’s my thing. I really get into it when there’s a live audience in front of me and when I can build up to a song and build a set and those are all things I’ll be able to do now. But seeing all the people come out and support me was so huge, because it was definitely not all me, it was a mixture of a lot of things. But seeing all the fans and support really allowed me to get a good grip on how intense the situation is, and how seriously impacted people can be by music. They all showed up and it was the most surreal experience. I was scheduled to play three songs and I played, like, nine or 10. How could you not? They were all there to see me and I didn’t want to leave them empty-handed, I didn’t to be, like, “Alright, guys. Have a good night.” When I came back I had a rejuvenated energy and I was ready to do it.

On whether any of his original songs are going to be on his new album…
The new album we’re going to go into the studio and work on some stuff, and I’m definitely going to get a chance to write and put that on the album. Whatever we choose to do with any music I already have, there’s a lot of stuff that goes into these kind of things, so we’ll see. I can’t say that it would bother me, but at the same time I’m really looking forward to the next step.

On sharing the spotlight with Simon on his winning night…
He definitely shared the spotlight, and that’s OK because he’s been a huge part of the reason the show’s been a success and it’s a huge part of the season, so they’re definitely going to have to make mention of that. It was kind of expected to be that way. For them to say goodbye to him was really cool and I thought they did a good job. I got a chance to talk to him and he was just happy for me. He’s a really nice dude, so I don’t feel like he stole the spotlight or anything like that. It was two big things going on in one night, I just thought it made the night a little bit better. It made the night really big and it was cool to be a part of it.

On what kind of album he wants to make…
First, I want the album that I make to be something I’m happy with. I’d like to have some kind of folk-rock, alternative vibe to it. I want it to be very earthy, but at the same time be able to reach out to a lot of different people. I’ve expressed that to the people in charge and they’re all for it. They’re all ready to work with me and it’s a really good relationship, working with 19 and those guys, they’re really a great group of people and they really know what they’re doing. A lot of people when they try out [for 'Idol'], they think they’re going to make you do this or do that, but the truthfully I think what they want is to do what you’re best at and proud of and confident in and run with it, and that’s what they’re doing. We have a lot more things to talk about, but I just want to make an album that will really speak to people and I want good stories and good music to back it up. Because that’s the kind of stuff I like to listen to. I want people to listen to it and say, “That was a song that reminds me about this time in my life.” It’s going to be really cool to put a lot my experiences into song and be able to make something new.

On whether he’s going to move to L.A. …
I think for a while I’m going to be doing the tour and also recording at the same time, which is going to be intense and it’s going to be fun. I’d like to stay in Chicago and maybe have a place here [in L.A.] as well, or vice versa. Just because I’d like to be able to go back to where my family and my friends are, but as of right now, a lot of the things that I’m doing are out here. So I’ll probably be hanging out here for a while, but Chicago and Mount Prospect, everybody out there has been so amazing and the fan support is just incredible, so I definitely want to remain close to home as much as I can. It’s weird being out here [in L.A.] and calling this home right now because I’ve been out there for so long, but I won’t be stationed here, I’ll be all over the place. But I’m definitely going to make my rounds in Chicago as often and as much as I can.