LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - It's been six months since David Cook was crowned the latest "American Idol" but after a summer "Idols" group national tour, he had only six weeks to put together his debut album.
Cook, 25, who was working as a bartender while trying to break into the music business, talked to Reuters about his self-titled album, which was released this week, and his hopes for the future.
Q: How different is this first album from the David Cook we saw on "American Idol".
A: "In the show, we had a different set of boundaries -- Mariah Carey songs one week, songs from your birth year another. With this record I was able to make my own rules ... Lyrically the songs have a mature angle but there is a youthful energy to the record because we had to do everything quickly. I think the time worked out in our favor. We wanted the record to come out of the gates with all guns blazing, and it does."
Q: You wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 12 songs on the album and some of them are very personal.
A: "Family is very important to me and 'Heroes' is a pretty accurate vibe to that. 'A Daily AntheM' ... all fell into place very organically and I finished the song before I realized it was about my brother Adam. 'Permanent' (also about Adam) is bare bones, piano, strings and vocal. I figured out through the process of making this record that sometimes the most powerful songs don't have all the bells and whistles on them."
Q: "American Idol" viewers heard about Adam's battle with brain cancer on the show. How is he doing?
A: "Adam's good. He is plugging along. We remain cautiously optimistic."
Q: Was the summer "Idols" tour in those huge stadiums good preparation for life as a solo artist, or are you more of a smaller, club venue performer?
A: "I hope I get to do that a million times over! I feel I have an aptitude for both (venues) and I think this record can play to both. Hopefully in the next year I will be playing as many venues as will have me."
Q: Does the perceived rivalry with David Archuleta grate on you?
A: "It does a little and I am sure Archie would share my opinion. We both recognize we are completely different artists and so it is comparing apples and oranges. Even in the 'Idol' finals, we didn't feel like we were competing against each other. Archie is a good person. I consider him a really good friend and wish him all the success he deserves."
Q: How did you feel about your "American Idol" make-over, and is it true you are dating former "Idol" contestant Kimberly Caldwell?
A: "Yes. She has been a steady, well-needed break. She is great. Very supportive. The make-over didn't hurt! It was weird the way it panned out. I had been talking for some time about chopping off my hair and one week we decided to do it and that same week I literally lost my razor and so I just didn't shave. I remember the reaction (from fans) after that performance. It was just dumb luck."
Q: What's next for you? Are there any plans to tour internationally?
A: "In early January we are going to Iraq to play for the troops. I am very excited about it. It is a huge honor even to be asked. Then hopefully we'll start the U.S. tour in early February and keep going until the wheels fall off. I realize that this whole thing is a kind of a one shot. So if someone wants to hear me play in the farthest reaches of this planet, I will do it."