David Cook, spoke with the AV club recently about his run on American Idol season 7, from his audition to the finale, where he prevailed over fellow finalist, David Archuleta. He also reminisced about his friendship with another season 7 Idol, Michael Johns, who died of a blood clot in 2014. Currently, David is promoting his 3rd post-Idol studio album, Digital Vein.
The lengthy article is a fascinating read, but I’ll pull out a few of the most interesting bits below.
So your thought, when you’re walking into a room and you’re going to see Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul—
DC: I mean, obviously nervous. I think to that part I still wasn’t sure if I was a quote-unquote real audition, or if I was the audition-round fodder… I was like man, I knew at the time my haircut was pretty damn god-awful, so I was just hoping that I wasn’t one of the joke ones. And they put me through to Hollywood and I thought, “Well okay, maybe I’m still one of the joke ones but at least I’m not terrible?” So, I don’t know. I never really went in with any expectations through any of it, really. I didn’t think about winning until maybe top three.
AVC: Your group didn’t seem to have much drama; people seemed very nice every week. Were they competitive behind the scenes?
Even at the finale, I remember they came up to us that Wednesday we were doing last-minute prep for that Wednesday night show, and Archie and I were sitting on the stage. And Nigel Lythgoe, who was producing at the time, came up and goes, “So here are the vote totals. I’m not going to tell you who got what,” but he told us the totals, and there was like this 12 million vote discrepancy. I was like, “Oh, Archie killed it then. So I’m cool with second, man. Whatever.” So when they said my name it was just like, “Uh, what?”
Nigel really is a bastard, isn’t he…
AVC: It seemed like they were tried to play up the David-David rivalry, but you and Archuleta were not about to play into that.
DC: We still talk. He came to my wedding. I love that guy.
On Michael Johns:
I said this right after he passed. Mike was the glue on our season. I do remember the vibe changing pretty abruptly when he left. Mike was great about just keeping it light. Mike was always there with a joke, so when he left, that was when it kind of started to feel like a competition. Getting to tour with him over the summer was great; he and I got in our fair amount of trouble with the tour staff, but that’s okay.
As a viewer, I felt that abrupt chance. All the light-heartedness seemed to leave with Michael. The tone instantly turned angsty.
I remember I was out with family and [Idol contestant] Carly Smithson called me and told me that Mike had passed. I was floored. I think without him I might’ve unraveled on that show quite a bit sooner than anticipated. He was such a huge talent, such a great heart, a good guy. Mike was great about seeing things for what they were, and on that show it was so easy to get caught up in the moment to moment, and Mike was great about just kind of making a joke about the absurd aspects of it. You know the personal shit, that doesn’t matter.
AVC: Just thinking about the moment when you first go on live: It’s one thing to do the audition rounds or whatever, but that first night where you’re live on television in front of all those people—is your heart in your throat? Can you breathe?
But I remember those first two weeks going by and being like, “Well, I’m going home next week.” So ’80s week, it was like, I just did something that I thought would be absurd and fun. I thought, “If I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out,” and it ended up being a Lionel Richie cover.
AVC: And you were doing your own arrangements, which not everybody was doing. Things seemed to turn for you with “Billie Jean,” because you basically deconstructed it.
DC: Complete necessity. Just being observant of the situation and looking at people like Syesha [Mercado] and Carly and Mike, and David Archuleta and Brooke White and being like, okay, vocally I’m not there. Vocally I still consider myself to be a lot rougher around the edges, so I was like, man, what can I do? And I thought, okay, I’ve been in a band since I was 14, 15 years old. Maybe I can work these songs out in a different way… because how many times do they say in a season, “Make this song your own”? So I was like, all right, here we go.
Read the rest at AV Club