‘I’m just a normal guy who wants to make it in the world’

PHOTOS/Jill Lejano

Phillip Phillips may have won “American Idol” Season 11, but he claims that he’s “just a normal guy.”

Want proof? At the “American Idol Live!” Tour press con, while his fellow Idols had colored and heavily styled hair or were flaunting trendy accessories, P-squared wore a T-shirt, a pair of shorts—and flip-flops. He even showed us one of his weird habits—rubbing his feet together—to further prove his regular-ness.

But while his actions, such as laughing the loudest whenever Heejun Han would crack a joke, showed us how normal he is, Phillip’s honest and candid answers to our questions showed even more just how regular and authentic he is.

For example, while he said that he doesn’t regret how he “played the game” in AI, he wasn’t too happy about one performance.

“I’m proud of all the performances I did,” he said. “The only performance I wasn’t proud of was ‘Time of the Season’ because the sound messed up in my ears. That was a really bad performance. I don’t even mind saying that, at all.”

Phillip also knows how to credit other people. He mentioned how grateful he is for the great band in “Idol,” and that, when the “Idol” tour is through, he will miss not just his fellow Idols, but members of the production staff and security, too. And when we brought up the comparisons with Dave Matthews, he was quick to say that he takes those as a compliment.

“I love Dave! He’s one of my heroes,” he professed. “He’s an amazing writer and his band is amazing so I take it as a compliment. Our original stuff is different from one another. I’m not as complex; he’s got some pretty complex, crazy things going on. He’s an amazing guy, such a nice guy.”

The reluctant star

PHOTOS/Jill Lejano

One amazing thing about Phillips is how he doesn’t want to change—how he doesn’t really want to be a celebrity. We all saw this on the show, like when he defied designer Tommy Hilfiger’s fashion advice. During our interview, he proved that he hasn’t changed his perspective. While not really being specific, he said,

“There were times when they wanted to change me. They tried to change me a lot of times, and I told them, ‘This is me. I’m going to go out and I’m going to go out as something I’m proud of.’”

Phillip is actually big on highlighting how he likes doing his own thing, and being different from others, proudly mentioning how he did all the arrangements for his numbers because he wanted people to see the kind of artist he is and hear the kind of music that represents him. He also explained that while a lot of people see him as just another “white guy with a guitar,” just like a lot of the past Idol contestants and winners, he feels they’re different from one another.

“[Especially with] the way I play the guitar. I really connect with my guitar. If I didn’t play the guitar, I wouldn’t be singing.”

Phillip almost didn’t become the season’s winner. Everyone knows how he suffered from kidney stones and had to get around seven procedures done during the show.

“It affected me a lot because I didn’t have a lot of energy,” he said about being sick while competing. “I was always just so tired and I would be hurting and I always had to take some pain medicine, which I hated to take because it always made me feel even more tired.”

“It hurt,” he added. “I couldn’t get comfortable sleep. I would just try to get comfortable, and it would just hurt on my side. If I bent down, it would hurt. As the show went on, I kind of got used to the pain. I was always hurting everyday and I would cry all the time.”

It was so bad he wanted to quit the show. “One day it was hurting and I felt like it was getting worse so I went up to all the producers and talked to them [and said], ‘I think I need to get out, it’s hurting too bad.’ I’d rather be healthy than die trying to do it. I was ready to give it up. I’m not a competitive person. I wasn’t trying to win. The reason I tried out, I just wanted to see how well I would do.”

Good thing the producers gave him some extra time for rest or they’d make him come in a bit later than everyone else. Phillip didn’t talk much about it, however, because he didn’t want it to be an issue; he didn’t want the others to think he was getting special treatment.

But he was, in a way, and he’s grateful for that.

“It was very, very tough, and I’m thankful for the people around me. And my girlfriend helped me out a lot.”

Proud to be taken

Phillip’s girlfriend, Hannah, is actually with him for the Philippine leg of the “American Idol” tour—and he’s not keeping that a secret, unlike other celebrities who’d rather make it seem like they’re single. He said that they’ll be together for three and a half years by the end of the year, and that his “Idol” experience has changed both their lives.

“Both of us aren’t used to it, there’s always something different,”he said.

PHOTOS/Jill Lejano

So how do they make it work, considering they’re not together all the time, and a lot of women throw themselves at his feet? “We always talk about how it’s going to be whenever I’m on tour,” said Phillip. “We need to make way for dates and see one another, keep it fresh because it’s going to be very tough.”

“For the romantic part… she’s really the romantic one. When I do something romantic, it’s pretty big, and I probably won’t do it for a while—not that I don’t want to! I guess some guys are like that,” said Phillip, who is undeniably in love with his girlfriend. “She always does little romantic things. She’s a lot smarter than I am with a lot of things. She kind of keeps me in the right place.”

This “American Idol: champ seems to be in the right place right now, considering all the prizes he won from the contest, plus all the fame. However, he looks at things a little differently, of course.

“I don’t really feel that I’m famous. I guess I am, but I’m just a normal guy who wants to make it in the world. I’m not trying to be huge or anything but I just want to at least make a living doing something I love, have some extra money if I want to have a family later on and do a vacation—you know what I mean?”

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