Did you know “Home” was going to be used by USA’s gymnastics team?
I’d seen a while back when they had used it. I think they were just qualifying—there’s a video on YouTube [embedded below]— and I heard people in my management talking about it, but I didn’t know if it was a sure thing. Then, a couple days ago, I saw a lot of people tweeting, “Oh, it’s so cool ‘Home’ is being used in the Olympics!” We don’t really get to watch much TV, man, with the concerts every night, but I wish I could have seen it. I really just found out through Twitter and my management texting me. I thought it was really awesome.
Admit it. Do you have a secret gymnastics past that made you a sensible musical representative for the Fab Five?
Yeah, I’m really flexible and I do a lot of flips… [laughs] No, the only thing I used to do is baseball. But I’m really proud of them, and it’s really awesome that they chose the song.
Are you feeling the extent to which “Home” has boomed again following its Olympic placements?
Yeah, man, it’s unreal. Television is an amazing thing. It’s a big promotion. People keep telling me what it’s done and everything, and I’m trying to keep up with it, but, like I said, we’re just staying so busy. It’s kind of overwhelming when I hear it went from like 83 to number 7 in a day and a half or something like that. It kind of wowed me, and now it’s number 2.
Is it number one? I didn’t know if it had gone down or anything. It’s just crazy for me, and I’m trying to wrap my head around all of it.
Glad to hear you’re excited. You ruffled some feathers after winning American Idol when you said that the song was “not really something [you] would write.” Some people felt that you didn’t like it. How do you feel about “Home?”
I never said anything bad about the song; I just said it’s not really my style. I’m more into jazz stuff. But it’s an amazing song, and I love it. Each time I play it, I’m getting it more and making it more of me. The more I play it, I have a lot more fun with it, and the band, they’ll change it up. So it’s coming to be a lot more me. It used to be I just kind of went in blind with a song that I didn’t really know, but it’s coming along a lot better now, and I’m enjoying it.
Many people seem surprised to learn it’s by an American Idol winner.
Someone told me that yesterday. He said, “I didn’t know who you were,” and he said he heard the song on gymnastics. It’s kind of cool that people like a song and they don’t recognize it from an American Idol. I never watched American Idol because it was really poppy, but [he says this quickly and determinedly] I’m proud for what I’ve done and what I’m going to do afterwards because I’m me, and I just love playing music.
Have you recorded anything for you upcoming album?
Yes, I have. It’s coming along good, man. I’ve just been recording mostly acoustic stuff, [but also] drums, and sax, and electric guitar. I’m just still writing songs and what not.
What sort of sound will your album have?
Some songs are just going to be acoustic with just maybe some light background stuff going on and maybe violin or something like that. Or sax — I mean, I’m definitely having some sax. That’s just what I love. It’s going to be jazz-rock stuff. That’s what I’m aiming for.
Will you feature the sexy sax lady [Mindi Abair] from Idol?
[Laughs] I haven’t seen her in a while! One of my good friends from back home plays the sax, and he’s amazing. His name is Fred, and I’m hoping to get him on the album. Or Mindi!
Do you feel like you are being heard in the recording process, or do you feel like you’re more just part of the post-Idol machine?
You know, it’s mixed feelings. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s also a lot of give and take — for both sides, not just me — the producer and other people as well. I know what my sound is. I’m just trying to get it out there how I can explain it. I’m not trying to write or put out some music that doesn’t represent me. I told people before all this, I’d rather sell 10,000 records that represent me than 2 million that don’t represent me at all. But it’s coming along well, and I’m excited about it. I’m excited to get the music started. And there are a few musicians I want to get out on it I’ve connected with, so I’m excited to get the production down.
For now, you’re on the road, though. How are you recovering post-surgery?
I’m still taking it slowly — I’m doing good though. It’s coming along each day. I get tired after concerts sometimes and have to rest, but for the most part, it’s coming along really well.
Has anything funny happened onstage?
I turned off Josh’s ear pack [the in-ear device that allows a singer to hear the band while performing] right when he went on stage one time and he couldn’t hear anything.
Oh yeah, on purpose! He looked back at me when I came back on stage all mad, but it was so funny.
Are you performing One Direction with your fellow Idols?
[Breathes heavy] Yeah… yeah.
Hey — that’s one of my favorite albums this year. It’s a great pop record!
Oh yeah? It’s… yeah.
You’re going to leave that one alone?
Uh, no comment. [laughs]