David Cook stepped back into the spotlight this year with his highly anticipated and critically acclaimed sophomore record, This Loud Morning. In support of his latest music endeavor, the singer and season seven American Idol winner kicked off his current co-headlining tour with singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw, along with L.A.-based band Carolina Liar on October 9.
Earlier this week, Cook spoke with me about how it feels to be back on tour and playing new material, his desire for listeners to take in This Loud Morning, and spilled some details about his upcoming music video for his new single, “Fade Into Me.”
How has the tour been going for you, so far?
Good, you know? It’s been a little grueling, I think, getting back into the swing of being on the road, but I’ve really enjoyed it. We’re out on the road with Gavin DeGraw and Carolina Liar. We get along great with those guys. It’s a good vibe out on the road right now, which makes it all that much more fun.
Were you at a point where you were ready to get back onstage and perform?
After the last tour, we spent a year on the road, and I was ready to get off the road for a minute and that lasted about a month. I spent the next year and a half waiting to get back on the road, so I’ve been ready for some time.
So, how was that first night of the tour being back onstage?
[laughs] The first night of the tour was awesome. We had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction, but other than that, it was great.
For fans that haven’t seen you in awhile or haven’t had the opportunity to see you live previously, what can they expect from you during this tour?
A lot of energy. I think being off the road for a year and half has really afforded us the opportunity to refill our tanks. With these new songs, musically, they’re really challenging, and I think what that does is it kind of forces us to walk on stage every night with our A-game. With acts like, again, Carolina Liar and Gavin DeGraw, I think they keep the bar pretty high for us. So, just a lot of energy, a lot of fun. I make a few sad attempts at cracking jokes every night.
We just try to keep it organic. I never want to play a show where it feels overly programmed, processed, and all that. For anybody that comes to one of our shows, the goal for me is to make sure that’s their show. That nobody else is going to see that show ever again. You know what I mean? I try to make it different everyday.
So, how do you approach and prepare for a tour like this?
You know, this one was different. The last one, we were operating on one record, so we pulled from prior Idol stuff and [played] quite a few covers. This time around, with two records to pull from, we had more original material. And so with this one we created a few different set list templates, and we try to like spice ‘em up every night and do something different. But really, I pushed myself vocally on this record, so it involved a lot more prep work to be able to do that night in and night out.
You mentioned your set list, are you starting with songs from your self-titled record and working in the material or is it the other way around?
It’s kind of the other way around. But, we do a pretty even mix. I think it’s hard to argue with the success of the last record, but I’m really proud of this new record. I really want people to go out and buy it, listen to it, like it, find something for themselves in it. And the live experience is part of that. I think, you know, as you get into the advent of YouTube and whatever else there is out there now at this point where you can watch concerts from home, you have to be able to find some way to make that live show unique. Make people want to spend the money on that ticket. It’s a little harder now than it used to be.
It’s really just all about packaging, again, this new record in a way live and reallybreathe new life into the record. But it’s something I think, so far we’ve done a decent job of. I think we can always do better, but I think we’ve done a decent job so far.
Very cool. So, how did this tour with Gavin DeGraw and Carolina Liar kind of come about? It seems like a really eclectic mix of music for one show.
Well, I have two random stories of both of these bands. You know, I met Gavin three years ago at a radio event in Orlando. We just kind of hit it off. He’s funny as hell and just kind of a goof. And so, when his name got brought up again three years later for this tour, it just seemed obvious. For me, it’s like I want to go out with artists that I admire and respect and enjoy listening to and can get along with. I want this tour to be fun, you know? To me, it’s that communal vibe of inter-band relations, hanging out with the crew and stuff is just an integral part of touring for me. And so Gavin really fit that bill.
With Carolina Liar, I writing on the last record in Sweden and Chad was out there, the singer from Carolina Liar. And we ended up randomly meeting up and bar-hopping around Stockholm. And fast-forward to this tour and their name gets brought up, and I’m like, “That’s perfect.”
You bring up the fact that it’s a little bit of an eclectic line-up; I love that. I think we compliment each other. But, I think there’s something for everybody there. And as such, I’ve been to concerts where every band on the bill sounds the same, and it gets a little boring after a while, for me. I’ll go to see the headliner, but then to sit to three other bands that sound exactly the same, it’s like, “Okay…” On this tour, every band has their own identity, every artist has their own identity, and so there really is kind of that constant stimulus for the audience, which for somebody who likes going to concerts, I think that’s awesome.
I know the tour just started, but do you have a favorite song to play live off of This Loud Morning?
It changes every night. I think lately, I really enjoy playing our new single, “Fade Into Me,” which sounds like a plug, but it’s not; I really have enjoyed playing it. I think past that, I’m really excited about playing all these songs. Again, to be off the road for a year and a half and toiling in the studio and all that, the light at the end of the tunnel for me was like, “Okay, I’m going to get to play these songs live at some point.” To finally be there now, it’s kind of the gas in the tank for me.
You have a new lead guitar player, Devin Bronson, on tour with you guys now. What’s the onstage chemistry been like between him and the rest of the band?
Great! You know, I was worried when we made the change. My last guitar player, Neal, I’d known him for a long time. Neal got an opportunity that he had to take. We love him, and we wish him well. And so, we went through the audition process and Devin came in and really just did a great job, not only just playing guitar, obviously, he’s a good guitar player, but really acclimating himself to the group. I think he’s made a real seamless transition for us. I love having him out on the road; great hang, great guy. We’re kind of firing on all cylinders right now, it feels good.
That’s great to hear. In about a month, it will be three years since your debut record came out; how does that record resonate with you now?
I say this, and it’s not to discredit that record or anything like that, but it really feels like every other record that I’ve done up to this point. I go back and I listen to it, and it seems like a very accurate, very honest, I guess, self-portrait at that time. You know, I hear a lot of energy, a lot of spastic energy on that record.
I think coming off of Idol, finally after 10 years of toiling in clubs, and bars, and coffee houses, and stuff like that, I’m finally at this spot. There’s a great vibe to that record. I’m really proud of what that record did. I’m glad I got to make it. With this record, the new one, I think there was just a bit more of a concise focus. I think I was able to put blinders on a little bit with this new record and focus on a singular idea.
Speaking of your new record, how did you decide on “Fade Into Me” as the second single?
With a little bit of help. [laughs] I’m admittedly a record guy. Singles and I are a different beast. I’m definitely an overall picture thinker. That song kind of got picked in conjunction with the label; people who are much better at deciding that stuff than I am.
Alright, I heard you shot the video for “Fade Into Me” last week; do you have any idea what the time frame for the release date is, and can you talk a little bit about the video concept?
I don’t know a release date. The content of the video, I wanted to showcase how we are live. I feel like it’s really easy sometimes to throw a tie on, and comb your hair, and put together this really sweet storyline; and I think “Fade Into Me” could have definitely taken that angle and it would have worked. I wanted this video to be kind of a no frills, no pretense kind of look at us on the road. It’s a lot of live footage, really just for lack of a better way to phrase it, it’s more of a day in the life kind of thing.
So, are you planning on staying out on the road after this tour with Gavin and Carolina Liar wraps up?
Yeah, yeah, we’re working on dates. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough confirmed where I’m allowed to saying anything. But, I can tell you that I made statements through the promo of this new record that I wanted to tour until the wheels fell off. We did 154 shows on the last record, and I’d love to double that. Where I sit right now is that’s still true. We’re working on dates that are going to keep us out for the foreseeable, which is awesome. I think as long as people want to watch us play, we’ll keep playing.
10/20 - Santa Rosa, CA – Wells Fargo Center for the Arts
10/21 - Reno, NV – Silver Legacy Resort Casino
10/23 - Phoenix, AZ – Arizona State Fair
10/24 - San Diego, CA – Humphrey’s
10/26 - Pomona, CA – The Fox Theatre
10/29 - Houston, TX – Arena Theatre
10/30 - Austin, TX – ACL Live
11/01 - Grand Prairie, TX – Verizon Theatre
11/02 - Memphis, TN – Minglewood Hall
11/04 - Winston-Salem, NC – Wake Forest University
11/05 - York, PA – Pullo Center
11/06 - Cleveland, OH – Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square Center
11/07 - Cincinnati, OH – The Taft Theatre
11/09 - Greenville, SC – Peace Center
11/10 - Athens, GA – The Classic Center
Photo credits: Lauren Dukoff