Lee DeWyze battled his way through season nine of American Idol, ultimately becoming the winner. He seemed tentative in the early weeks of the competition, though Simon Cowell was very supportive from the start. DeWyze showcased his raspy voice to good effect and as his confidence grew he emerged as the one to beat. Since July 1st, 2010, he has been headlining the American Idols LIVE! tour, bringing audiences to their feet throughout the country. I spoke with Mr. DeWyze prior to his performance at Seattle’s Key Arena.
How’s the tour experience been?
Good. It’s coming to an end soon, which is kind of weird. But I’ll be heading home to see my family and friends soon (August 28th in Chicago), so I’m excited about that.
Any special highlights from the tour? Favorite cities you’ve played in?
All of them, man. They’re all good for different reasons. Seattle’s probably been one of my favorites, I’m not kidding. Got to hang out here a little bit, went the piers and the waterfront.
When is your album being released?
Middle of November. It was going to be in October, but they pushed the release date.
What sort of vibe are you going for stylistically with the album?
It’s going to be folk/pop/rock/soul. That’s the best way I can put it.
Will you start working on it as soon as the tour concludes?
I’m working on it now. Been working on it since day one of the tour. Every day off I fly out somewhere and write. I’ve been writing a lot of my own stuff. I bring it to the table, we work on it and make it what it is. It’s very me, it’s my style.
Regarding your songwriting process: are you collaborating with other writers?
No, I’m on my own on quite a few of them. I’ve been working with some other people on other songs, and I think there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, I’ve never been part of a co-writing process before, so for me it has been a really cool experience to work with some great artists. It’s just been cool.
You had an album, Slumberland, released earlier this year by Wuli Records. Did that cause any friction with the people at 19 Entertainment?
The deal with that was, going into American Idol you can’t be bound by any contracts. I wasn’t under any contract when I went on Idol. So the other company released the album after I left, they own the masters. So they could release them and there’s no reason they shouldn’t. It’s their right – they recorded the album.
Are you playing guitar on the album as well?
The reason I ask is, looking over the credits of some previous Idol releases, they don’t always contribute instrumentally even if they are in fact musicians.
Well sometimes they have other people record it, then you play it live. But either way, it’s definitely going to be put together well. And I’ll be playing guitar on stage. You know I’m going to put that down, that’s my thing.
Who do you consider your primary musical influences to be?
Dave Matthews, James Morrison, as of recently. I like folk music. Fleet Foxes, Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens. But I think I’ve found my own little sound, and that’s what I’m doing.
Throughout the Idol season, did you have problems with clearing songs you wanted to do?
There were definitely some weeks I didn’t like the themes and I didn’t like the songs. I did the best I could with what I was given, that’s part of the game of American Idol. That’s why it’s been so successful, it puts you in a weird place.
What were your personal favorite performances?
“The Boxer,” “Simple Man,” and “Hallelujah.” Those three were pretty cool, I really liked doing those.
My favorite of yours was “Treat Her Like a Lady,” that was awesome.
Oh thanks! I play that on the tour.
Had you played that song in the past?
No, I just listened to it and made my own version really quick. As soon as I heard it I was like, “I know what I want to do with this.”
Do you have a solo tour planned to support the upcoming album?
I will. It’s in the works right now.
Fans can expect that shortly following the album’s release?
Thanks for your time, Lee. Enjoy the rest of the tour.
Thank you very much.