The Hot Seat | Indie

Gabrielle Aplin David Cook
Hayley Holmes
It was on a rainy Friday night when we got a chance to sit down with singer David Cook. Tucked away in the basement of the popular music venue The Abbey in Chicago, Cook talked about touring, his new album, his past as one of the most successful winners of the popular television singing competition American Idol  and what his future in music looks like. The singer sat down for a one-on-one with Musiqtone and gave us a glimps into what drives and inspires his music career.

Amaris: Well first thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with us for a little bit...
David: Of Course

Amaris: Have you played here before?
David: Not at The Abbey. In fact I am trying to remember the last time we came through I believe we played Lincoln Hall maybe. We try to come through Chicago on most tours if not all of them. I love it here which makes it a hell of a lot easier to come through here. We had a day off yesterday and I went to Pequod’s Pizza I think. Whatever it was it was solid. I think I put on about five pounds yesterday which was fun.

Amaris: Just with yesterday? Oh my gosh (laughs). What is your favorite part about touring? Is it the food?
David: (laughs) Depends on where we go. I get bored really easy so I think being able to wake up and have different stimuli every day; I see a lot of hotels, venues, and airports but occasionally I do get to get out and see the places we play at. I think I love that. I love just getting lost in a city. Walking in one direction for a while until you see something cool and stopping there. And you keep going in that direction until eventually you have to call a cab and get back to where you started. I love that.

Amaris: Is there a certain city you are really looking forward to playing this time around?
David: I’m a little biased to the eastern United States. I think just since there is more history there. I think from like Chicago east is usually where I tend to enjoy myself a little more. We have tonight in Chicago and tomorrow in Indianapolis, go back home to Nashville for a little while and then head east. So we have done all the west coast stuff so I’m just really looking to get up into the New England states.

Amaris: Nice. Are you taking a little break while you’re in Nashville?
David: Yeah. I get a few days at home where I am sure there is a list of things I have to do at home (laughs). The yard probably has to be mowed but we are going to take two or three days at home, play Nashville and head back out.  

Amaris: So this tour is to promote your new album…
David: New record yeah. Just had a new record called Digital Vein, it came out in September. I mean I can say I am excited, it’s kinda cliché it’s the honest to God truth. I can’t recall having enjoyed making a record more than Digital Vein and the fact that we get to go out and tour. Even on the first show in Phoenix and having some of the crowd singing the words back to us it makes it feel like we are doing something right.

Amaris: How did you prepare for this album?
David: This record was a little different. The last two records especially I kinda relied on the producers of those records. Rob Cavallo with the self-titled one and Matt Serletic with the last one. This time it came up for me to self-produce and me being the control freak that I am I thought I’d give it a shot. I took the experiences I have with those two producers who are obviously big name producers and them I kinda cherry picked from other producers that I admired. Kinda puzzled piece this album together. And I got to do it with my friends and I got to do it with people that I trusted with my creative process and I think the vibe on this record really steams from the fact that I was free to enjoy making the record.

Amaris: and you co-wrote or wrote a lot of the songs on the album…
David: Yeah yeah. There are two on there; one is a cover of a Chris Isaak song called “Wicked Games” and the other is a song written by Chase Foster called “Better Than Me” but everything else I co-wrote.

Amaris: Do you feel as a songwriter you have evolved as time goes on?
David: Yeah definitely. I think moving to Nashville was a big moment for me. I think some of the best songwriters and some of the best story tellers in the world live in Nashville. So going to a writing session there is like going to school. I do feel like I am more in tune with telling a story than maybe I have in the past. Historically I would write in vaguer terms and leave the song open to interpretation but yeah constantly evolving. I don’t want to make the same record twice so I try really hard not to.

Amaris: This one definatley does that and I could tell it was more of a story.
David: Thank you, thank you.

Amaris: Back to producing, is that something you can see yourself doing even for other artists?
David: I hope so yeah. I think anytime I can be involved in the creative process I am always kinda up for it especially in the context of helping someone realize their artistic vision I think that’s an ideal place to be.

Amaris: Do you feel any added pressure because your first self-titled (David Cook) album was so big especially after everything you got after Idol? That you have to keep producing hits after hits?
David: No (laughs). I probably should. I wanna write hits just like anybody else in this industry does but I am not really driven by it so much. I like making great records, I like trying to make great records because when I got into music as a fan those where the things I gravitated towards where records and album cuts. I didn’t listen to the radio a whole lot so for me to find a band and get into them it had to take some stars aligning. So I ‘ve always concerned myself with making a cohesive record or an album of music I got excited about and one of these days if I stick it out long enough maybe one of those two will line up. I feel like I actively pursue hits I will end up making an album I am not proud of.

Amaris: Who were those people? Who were those bands that you found?
David: Double Drive. Injected. Big Wreck. Our Lady Peace. Rock bands for sure but bands that for the most part have stayed just left of centered. And that’s kinda where I want to live. I like a lot of alternative music that’s coming out now and even with Digital Vein I was listening to things like Massive Attack and Nine Inch Nails a lot of programming element bands and really trying to incorporate that into what we are doing. I don’t have any images of Top 40, if it works out great but that’s not really what I am shooting for.

Amaris: Can we talk about American Idol for a little bit?
David: We absolutely can (laughs).

Amaris: How did that feel after winning such a big show?
David: It was… (laughs). I was so damn exhausted by the time the finally came around. I tell people that my recollection of Seacrest saying my name I remember from the YouTube video I watched three months later. I was not conscious at all. Look, it’s been such a great platform for me and allowed me to do something I love to do for a living. I got to tour the world. It has been incredible and every time I think it’s gonna stop being incredible something else happens. I owe that show quite a bit.

Amaris: Do you still watch it?
David: Not as much as I should. I didn’t catch much of it last season. Every time it was one I was either recording or something but I am hoping to catch a little bit of it this year.

Amaris: Do you feel like you could ever do what those judges did? Mentored in some way for other shows?
David: I went back and mentored a couple seasons ago on Idol and I wasn’t sure if I would be into it but I actually really enjoyed it. I don’t think I could do the judge thing but I could definitely do the mentor thing. I think in the context of again just helping people realize their creative vision becuase it is so easy on those shows to get tide down with all the bullshit that doesn’t really matter. For us, it was fun shooting those four music videos every week but it’s not really the reason why we are there.

Amaris: It’s not the focus?
David: Yeah. So it’s easy to get bogged down to the moment to moment and lose focus so I think if the opportunity came up to do that I would enjoy it. But not judging.

Amaris: Why not?
David: It’s just sitting in judgment of somebody else in that moment. Knowing what it is like on the other side I don’t know if I could wag the finger at anybody.

Amaris: They don’t get to see everything that happens?
David: Yeah yeah exactly.

Amaris: What do you see now after Digital Vein? What do you think of going forward?
David; I know we are looking to go back out in the spring for another leg. Our last show is right before Thanksgiving so I am going to go home and do the holidays and start writing another one. My fans have been incredibly patient and loyal cuz this record came out in 2015 and the record before that came out in 2011. That’s a long time. So my goal is to not make them wait nearly that long. I am looking forward to it.

Amaris: Any big surprises you have up your sleeves? Anything we should keep an eye out for?
David: That’s probably something I should have thought about (laughs). You know I think as we write new music we will test it. One of the things I loved about Digital Vein is that we wrote these songs we incorporated them into the set. So half of these songs saw the light of day before they were put on the record and I enjoyed doing it that way. It allowed me as a producer to see what songs worked, what didn’t; and the songs that didn’t, why didn’t they work. So I am sure people will start hearing new songs sooner or later.

Amaris: Thank you so much for sitting down with us.
David: I thought this was gonna be hard (laughs). Thank You for taking it easy on me.

David Cook is one of those artists who do what they do because they actually enjoy it and nothing could have made that more clear in the interview. An artist who might have had a show to launch a career but also had the talent to back it up is pretty rare, Cook being one of the most talented. While Cook finished warming up in the basement of the Chicago venue, a couple of floors up his fans where ready for a great show in which he would not disappoint.
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