Nick Fradiani On Finding His Confidence and Hit Songs

AMERICAN IDOL XIV: Finalist Nick Fradiani is the  American Idol XIV winner AMERICAN IDOL XIV airing Wednesday, May 13 (8:00 PM-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Frank Micelotta / FOX. © FOX Broadcasting

On the heels of being crowned the winner of American Idol season 14, Nick Fradiani talked to reporters today about his wild and unexpected ride to the top, on his relationship with mentor and Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta, and what kind of music he’ll make. Read the Q & A below.

Is he heading straight to Nashville? Or coming back home to Connecticut? Any chance for a local performance? “I dont’ really know right now. I think I’m going to be meeting with Scott over at Big Machine, as well as 19 Records and we’ll probably start discussing what I’ll be doing with this upcoming record. I do think there [are] going to be a couple days I’ll be back home in Connecticut. I’m flying back into New York. In terms of shows, I don’t really know. I hope to get a chance to play back in Connecticut again. When I went back home and got to play for the [homecoming] it was pretty amazing.”

Do you have a girlfriend right now? “I do not.”

Was it awkward being older (28) than the rest of the finalists? Was it a positive for him to get a glimpse into a younger generation? “I have my masters degree in secondary education. I interned at a high school and student taught at a high school for a year. I was used to relating to kids 16, 17. A lot of these kids–I think I got along with them great. I listen to all different types of music. I never really had a problem with current pop music, or anything like that.”

On the cancellation of American Idol, “It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be gone forever. It means that FOX decided not to pick it up. I’d love to see the show continue. It could be cool to see a revamp of it. Maybe they could do something a little different. There will never be another American Idol. If it does end next year–it was an incredible run. The amount of success this show has had–to be on for 14, 15 years–it’s truly amazing. To have been able to be a part of it is really awesome.”

About the coronation single, “Beautiful Life” written by fellow Connecticut native, Chris Carrabba, from Dashboard Confessional, “I love the song. I was really happy with [the single]. As a songwriter, it’s always kind of scary to get a song handed over to you. You just don’t know what it’s going to be like. Luckily for me, I got the demo, and I started listening to it and I’m like ‘That Chris Carrabba!’ I just know his voice. I looked at Scott. ‘Yeah man, he wrote the song!’ I lucked out with that one. It’s spot on to the type of music I wanted to do, and what I was doing prior to Idol. It was a real special thing.”

What was going through his mind when Ryan Seacrest called out his name, “I’m trying to go back and remember everything. It’s kind of hard. It’s such a blur yesterday. I remember when I got off stage and [they] brought me back to my dressing room, and brought my family down, brought some friends down–it was just a real special moment. The whole night–everything was done so well. I [never] once [imagined] that that something like this was going to happen to me. It’s just beyond words. Really amazing.”

He’s ready to hit the ground running, “I’m ready to work. This is what I signed up for. I’m ready for it. I’m just so happy to have this opportunity. It’s going to be a wild ride.”

What will his tour set be like? “I don’t know yet. I know that I’m going to be getting a decent amount of time. Probably more than any other season, because there’s only 5 of us this year on the tour. I’m going to get a solid set. I don’t know if my record will be written by then. It probably won’t. I have a lot of original music that I’m going to share that my band wrote, as well as the single I have right now. I’m looking forward to playing some original songs for people.”

On singing original songs on the show. He wanted to play ‘Coming Your Way,’ I was trying to play that on the show. They wouldn’t let me do it for fairness issues. I wanted to sing some original stuff the whole time. I’m excited to do some of those on tour…I’m hoping to be able to recut that one [Coming Your Way] for the record. I”m going to have to show it to Scott and see what he thinks.”

Did he ever think he’d become a role model for the younger generation? “Whenever you’re on TV…or in the public eye like this, you should always be aware that you could be a role model to somebody. That’s very important to me. I’ve always been involved with education and working with kids. I’ve been a high school basketball coach. I’ve taught in high school. I’ve always known you can be so impressionable to young kids.  I’m always trying to do the best I can to lead with a good example.”

What advice would he give to an aspiring artist who wants to follow in his footsteps? “Never give up. I know they make the ‘grandpa joke’ [affectionate nickname by his fellow contestants] at 29. I grinded this music thing out for a long time. There’s a lot of times I could have given up and said ‘Go get a normal job. Start making some money.’ I just truly felt like I was supposed to do this. I never gave up on the dream I had and I’m glad I never did.”

Do his friends treat him differently? “Not really. My buddies. They’re still all the same. A lot of them flew out here. Everything is pretty much the same still.”

What can we expect from his first album? “The single that you’re hearing, ‘Beautiful Life,’ to me, is a good example of the type of genre it’s going to be. If you want, my band is called Beach Avenue–if you want to listen to some of our past stuff, that could give you kind of an idea, as well. I’m sure I’m going to come up with some new ideas and I’m hoping to write with some cool co-writers.”

What does he think is his appeal to the people who voted for him. What sets him apart from the other contestants? “There have been some powerhouse vocalists on this show. I could sing, but I never considered myself to be some powerhouse vocalist. I do the best that I can. I do what I need to do as a rock/pop singer. A lot about American Idol is just hoping that people like you. I tried to paint a picture of how I am as a person, and get my personality to come through. I think that happened. Hopefully I’m just a relatable guy. I’m just a regular dude who likes to play music. People liked it. Still shocked, but so happy to be in this position right now.”

At what point did he know that he was going to win? “I felt it when I sang my coronation song on Tuesday. When I ended the show and sang it, it felt big. It felt really big. It was so loud, it got so loud when I finished. At that point I was ‘I think you’ve got a shot at this now.’ I never really gave myself much of a shot. At that point I thought I had a really good one. It was probably one of my favorite performances of the season for me. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Tuesday was a good day. I was happy with the song choices, and the order in which they went. It showed all the layers of me as an artist, including getting to play an original song. It was a special day.”

Other than singing his own music, is there anything else he’s looking forward to doing on tour this summer? “I’m looking to collaborate with some of these top 5 people. We’re sitting around in the dressing rooms. We’re always messing around with our guitars and pianos and what not. Probably to do some duets with Jax, Clark, Rayvon, Tyanna. I think that’s going to be really cool.”

What’s the one piece of advice from the judges that helped him the most? “All the judges said it at one point–trying to get me to break out of my comfort zone, and let loose out there. I needed to get my confidence up. Once that happened, it kind of took off. Let loose man. That’s what they kept telling me. Break open.”

Why was he lacking confidence early in the competition? “It was…me mentally preparing for whatever. I think that’s how I would react to things. I was always considered the underdog. Everybody always had Jax and Clark up there. They’re very talented. Obviously they brought it every week. I don’t want to go in there thinking that I’m definitely going through, so i was always ‘Yeah, I’m going home.’ I said that since Top 8! Not really an intimidation thing, or down on my performances.”

What does he plan to do to stay relevant. Is he worried about being taken seriously because of the American Idol title that’s going to follow him through his career? “Not at all. The biggest thing is the songs. American Idols that come off the show and don’t have a hit song–that makes it tough. If you come off the show and the song isn’t big, and it takes a couple months to get your single out there–that time could be damaging. One thing I’m excited for–I think the single is going to do well. The one thing I’m really the most confident in as an artist is my songwriting ability and ear for pop music. I’m really excited to show that off. It was a side that I wasn’t able to show on American Idol. That’s what kind of shocked me, that I was able to win. My songwriting is what I consider to be my strong point. I think that I’m going to be able to succeed because of that. The most important thing is having the songs. You got to back it up with good songs, and I think I’m going to have that.”

Have he and Scott sat down and had any discussions about his album? What about going country as Scott has mentioned in interviews? “We had discussed that at one point. I think that might be something–maybe in a couple of years it could be an option. The direction that the single is, is the kind of direction that I’m going [in]. I’m happy. It’s where I’m most comfortable. We haven’t really sat down yet. We’re going to be doing that in the next couple of days, where I’m going to really be able to put my input in on everything. The artist side of it, and the songwriting aspect, is what really excites me. I can’t wait.”

Will he front a band? Is he hoping to bring his bandmates with him? “Once you win American Idol, I’m going to be putting out an album as Nick Fradiani. But the music I play needs a band–it’s not like I’m going to be there singing to back tracks. I want to take Nick and Ryan–they’ve been with me for the last four years. We’ve been through a lot. Without them, I wouldn’t have been in this situation at all. We were ready as a band. It just so happened that [Idol] happened instead. I’m really hoping that those two can join me on this ride and the record label can fill the bass and whatever else needs to be used. We have a bass player too that can maybe come with us…I’m just really hoping that they can play with me. They’re my best buds. And they’re ready for it.”

Was there something new about himself he learned from American Idol that he didn’t know before? “Overall, I didn’t know that I could perform at a high level. I knew I could just sit behind a guitar and play with my band right next to me. Towards the end I learned that I could move around–not that I could dance–but I could work a stage and get the crowd involved and feel really at home as a front man. It felt good to know that I could do that. Scott was really working on getting that out of me and it finally started happening towards the end there.”

How does he think his new found success will affect his relationships and dating? “Being in music has always made it kind of difficult to have relationships. Especially when I’d be travelling a lot. I’m sure it will make things more difficult. I try not to look for those things. Hopefully the right thing just happens, and that would be pretty cool.”

What does he think are three important qualities in a partner? “Humor. I like to laugh and have fun. Somebody that’s funny. Somebody I can trust. Somebody I can just be myself around.”

On his relationship with his father? What did he say to him after he was crowned the American Idol? “Me and my dad have a really cool relationship. He’s my buddy. We had this music connection since I was a little kid. It’s been something really special. It was really cool being able to see him after I won. I don’t even remember what He said. He was crying. It was an emotional moment. Just so happy that we we got to share that together.”

What advice from Scott or one of the guest mentors did he feel was really valuable? “Scott was so helpful throughout the whole season with me. We had a good rapport and we worked well together. He was giving me non stop advice that really helped me to win this season for sure. In terms of one mentor–I think Florida-Georgia Line actually helped a lot. They wanted me to own who I am, and just rock the stage. That was when I finally broke loose–their mentor session when I sang a Katy Perry song. Ever since then it went well.”

Were his clothes chosen for him? “I get to choose what I wore. They would give me a rack with all the stuff. I felt comfortable in jeans and a t shirt. That’s all I wanted to do was feel comfortable up there. As long as the wardrobe signed off on it, I was good to go. We all got to pick what we wanted to wear. They looked at what we were wearing and just got nicer stuff. I would wear $10 t shirts and then they were giving me $100 t shirts!”

Nick Fradiani Talks Winning American Idol | On Air with Ryan Seacrest

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Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!