Siobhan Magnus was a surprise elimination fairly early during season nine of American Idol. Her powerhouse vocals and dramatic style made her an early favorite, but as fate would have it she wound up finishing in sixth place. Magnus has spent her summer touring with American Idols LIVE!, giving fans from city to city plenty to cheer about. I was fortunate to speak with her before her performance at Seattle’s Key Arena.
Any special highlights you can share from the tour?
There are definitely times when you meet fans and it hits you in the face, what’s going on. It’s really easy to let things happen so quickly that you kind of lose perspective. I can be aloof because I’m tired or just overwhelmed.
It’s easy to get kind of lost in it, but sometimes I’ll meet someone that expresses the impact I’ve had on them. I can’t believe that what I did made such a difference to that person. It reminds me to be humble and remember how blessed we are to be here. To have the opportunity to share that with so many people, it’s really the coolest thing.
Did you do much performing before you where on American Idol?
Yeah, I’ve done a lot of musical theater. And not musical theater. Different competitive vocal groups and school choirs, things like that.
Tell me about your band Lunar Valve.
That was me and four of my best friends, all guys. I’m just one of the guys with them. We’re still together really, we never broke up. It’s just an obvious hiatus we’ve had to take. But we’ve been playing together since we were about 16. We’ve recorded a whole album’s worth of original stuff together. We would play out at home, play different battle of the bands, stuff like that.
How did your Lunar Valve bandmates react about your decision to audition for Idol?
They were extremely supportive. This whole time they’ve all been optimistic about it, looking at it as a possibility for lots of doors to open for all of us. I know that I write best with them. We know each other and are comfortable with each others’ styles. I don’t want to continue in my career without them, if its going to be original stuff.
How would you describe your sound with them?
It’s heavily influenced by all of our separate influences. I would describe it as something like alternative rock, experimental metal/punk.
Who are your own biggest musical influences?
My two favorite bands, that are equal, are Hanson and Hole. Which are total opposites. My next favorite bands are Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, HorrorPops.
What was it like when you were a guest on David Letterman’s show?
That was really cool. It was strange to see how that works. They’re very organized there and everything is on schedule. It was an honor to play with Paul Shaffer and the band. They were super nice. It was really cool what David Letterman said to me. [“You should be our American Idol.”] That was incredible.
What are some other highlights, outside of the show and the tour?
There were things that happened between leaving the show and starting the tour that blew my mind. I got to meet Hanson. I met them the night of the finale at the party afterwards. I was surprised because no one told me they were coming. I was in complete shock. I cried and cried. Then a few weeks later when we started rehearsing for the tour, I got to sing with them. So, pretty much I can die happy.
How did that come about, getting to sing with them?
One day after rehearsal I got a phone call from one of our tour managers. He said, “You know how they were going to try to make it so you could see Hanson again, but it didn’t work out? Well, how would you like to sing with them in their show tomorrow night?” I was just stunned. I just started crying. He was like, “It’s okay – you don’t have to if you’re too tired.” I said, “That’s not why I’m crying!” It was really short notice, but I went before their show and rehearsed with them. We ended up doing four songs together.
What was your favorite week during your time on Idol?
It’s really hard to say because each performance meant something in its own way. One of my favorites was singing “House of the Rising Sun.” It was a perfect coincidence that I picked the song for that week, because I found out my dad was coming out to see the show after I picked it. I wanted to do it for him anyway because it’s one of his favorite songs. It’s my big connection I have with him, that song and how much it means to me. It’s such a beautiful story. So I was really excited about what I was able to do, sort of combining the Animals’ version with the Sinead O’Connor version.
What was your relationship like with the other Idols throughout the season?
Very close. We’ve been told by crew members that of the different groups of Idols we are some of the closest; the most like a family. We’re really lucky for that. It’s not easy all the time, nothing ever is when you’re with the same people every day. We need each other, that support, because they’re the only other people I know who know what it’s like to do this. As much as I can talk to my other friends and family about it, they can only understand so much to a certain extent. But these guys here, they know what’s going on. When you’re feeling weird about something, or something happens that has to do with this, then they see what’s wrong. They got your back, because they know how crazy it can be.
What are your short term career goals?
My first goal is to record an album and release it. But I have a lot of ideas, crazy things I want to do. And not limited to singing by any means. I have so many thing I’d like to conquer and not ever regret having not done. I don’t want to be somebody who looks back saying, “Oh, I was all talk.” I have really big ideas all the time.
You mean non-career oriented? Personal challenges, like bungee jumping or something?
Well, no! Like, I’d love to do things like be an inventor.
Okay. Anything in particular?
Like a flavor engineer scientist for Jelly Belly, and make new flavors of jellybeans.
I think that’s a good place to wrap things up! Thanks so much, Siobhan!