But he’s not a brooding, Clint Eastwood type. He’s more of the aw-shucks, happy-go-lucky variety of star.
He’ll bring his humble charm and musical chops Sunday to the sold-out “Idols Live” tour stop at Gwinnett Arena in Duluth.
And since he’s still recuperating from intensive kidney stone removal surgery a few weeks ago, he’s also going to be a man of economy in terms of movement. You won’t be seeing him running around or busting out any fancy dance steps on stage – or off.
“I’m just getting as much rest as I can, taking it slow,” he said, in a phone interview last week from a tour date in Glendale, Ariz.
During the interview, he discussed his “Idol” experience, desire to be a working musician and his upcoming first album:
AJC: You have now done 15 cities out of 45. How’s it been going?
Phillips: It’s been a lot of fun. And tiring also. We’re all getting as much sleep as we can. It’s coming along very well.”
AJC: I know you get this question every day since you had your kidney surgery but how are you feeling?
Phillips: I’m doing good. I really don’t try to do much.
AJC: Are the other “Idol” contestants bugging you about it?
Phillips: They’ll hassle me over it a little bit but not too much. They’re there to take care of me. It’s all good.
AJC: How comfortable is the tour bus?
Phillips: It’s very comfortable. We all sleep like babies. The guys do, at least. The worst part is if we have only a two-hour drive to the next city and have to wake up to go into the hotel. I prefer when we have long drives.
AJC: You were an early favorite to win the show and you did. Did any of that cross your mind while you were competing?
Phillips: Man. I tried not to think of anything like that when I was on the show. I just went out there each week playing music. It’s just a TV show. We were all out doing our best. People would get upset over who was eliminated. We all support each other. I honestly blocked out everything.
AJC: How much time have you spent in Georgia since you won the show?
Phillips: Zero percent. None. I’m excited to come to Duluth, eat some Southern food somewhere.
AJC: I expect a lot of your friends and family are coming up from Leesburg?
Phillips: We get a day off so I’ll get to spend some time with friends and family. I’m really excited to see them.
AJC: Have you had much of a chance to see your girlfriend?
Phillips: We’ve seen each other a few times. She’s doing great, supporting me 100 percent.
AJC: How long did it take after your surgery before you could sing or play guitar?
Phillips: It was at least two to three weeks. I couldn’t even bend over or anything. It would hurt to sit up. I just sat and stared at the TV or the walls for hours. I got a little paranoid! It was horrible. I hope the rest paid off.
AJC: Are there any foods you can’t eat?
Phillips: Mostly anything with calcium. I can’t take too much caffeine. And I can’t drink too much sweet tea, which sucks. I love sweet tea- especially my mom’s sweet tea.
AJC: How likely will it be that you’ll have more kidney stones?
Phillips: We’re working on preventing it. I may have them my whole life. I just have to prevent them from getting too big so they can pass.
AJC: You don’t get on stage until 90 minutes into the show. What do you do until then?
Phillips: It depends on the day. I might write. Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie.
AJC: How far along are you on the album?
Phillips: We’ve recorded 15 songs I’ve written. I’m still writing, trying to get as many songs as possible.
AJC: What type of music should we expect?
Phillips: It’s going to be rock with jazz and funk. Some songs will be acoustic. We’re still messing around with the songs. I’m excited to get them out there.
AJC: You haven’t travelled much before this tour. What’s been your favorite food so far?
Phillips: I ate some Chicago-style pizza for the first time. It was pretty different, took me a few bites to get used to it. I actually liked it.
AJC: Do you enjoy being on the road?
Phillips: I am. I am getting to see so many different cities. I’m not trying to be a huge star. If it happens, it happens. I just want to play music for the rest of my life and make a living at it.
AJC: Are you looking forward to your own tour bus?
Phillips: If I can afford it? Else, I can see myself driving little vans!
AJC: What’s it like being fawned over like a rock star?
Phillips: It’s strange to have people wanting my picture or autograph. I’m still feeling weird about it. But I love meeting new people. It’s just fun to get to hear their stories. They inspire me to keep going and keep writing music and keep doing my thing.