Interview with American Idols! Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey, Sanjaya Malakar and Chris Sligh
On Sunday, before attending the American Idols Live! show (which you could read my review for here, in case you missed it), the kind people at Billboard were able to get me into the press hour where I'd be able to interview some of the contestants from season six. Me being absolutely freaked out was an understatement. Sure, I had interviewed people before... but that was mainly for the high school newspaper back in the day. I also interviewed a band once, but they were local and it was via email. Really, the Idol Press Hour was going to be my first official big press thing and I was so scared. It didn't help that the day had started out bad - I woke up late, my hair refused to not frizz, I spilled a drink on my favorite jeans and even when I eventually got to the Honda Center (mind you I sped there because I thought I was late) I had a massive freak out thinking I had lost my voice recorder (I even called my mom almost in tears!).
I was under the assumption that this is how press hour worked: a ton of journalists crammed in a room where they unleashed all 10 idols on us at which point we'd have to fight to the death for interviews. Boy, was I wrong. We got five pre-selected Idols one-on-one for about five minutes each. Oh, and there was only three of us. Wait, what? You mean I'm actually going to have to sit across from them and TALK to them? I'm sorry, but they're IDOLS and I'm just a kid who won a contest and gets to run around and do awesome things for Billboard.
In the press room, Lisa Tucker from season five sat down next to me (she was there as a reporter). Psh, do you know how much money I spent on front row tickets to the Idol tour last year? Of course I had to talk to her! Eventually I ended up flat out telling her something along the lines of "this is crazy and I really don't think I'm supposed to be here." Lisa responds, "You know what? If there was a reason for you not to be here, you wouldn't be here. You're here and that's all that matters."
Thanks Lisa, I needed that.
During the course of the hour I got a chance to talk to Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey, Sanjaya Malakar, Chris Sligh and the American Idol herself, Jordin Sparks. Everything from weight issues to novel writing to charities were brought up. And let me tell you, even though I was super nervous, it was such an amazing time
The first person I got to interview was the lovely Melinda Doolittle. I remember when I first saw her audition on Idol I was ready to put my money down for her to win. During the competition, I'd tell my friends "Why do they even bother competing? We all know Melinda is the Idol this year!" Interviewing Melinda, I was really curious about a number of things, one being a recent trip to Africa that she had taken.
Me: When Idol first began everyone saw you as a front runner to win… even when I saw your audition I had a feeling you might be the one. When the show was over, even Simon made a comment on a talk show that you should’ve been crowned the winner. But in the end even with all that hype, you did come in third place. Are you content with that?
Melinda: I am amazingly content with it. First and foremost, I believe that God has a plan for all of us and it all works out His way so I believe the right thing definitely did happen. I could not be happier with the way things have worked out, my baby girl [Jordin Sparks] won and I’m so proud of her. I would much rather have it be her than me, I mean it was so perfect! In the end it worked out great, I can’t complain about anything. I feel very honored that people say such great things and everything but I’m like ‘No! The right thing happened!’ It’s all good, I’m loving it.
Me: You’ve sung back up for SOOOO many people and to be on
Idol you have to be the center of attention. Is that really hard for you?
Because you really seem like a modest type of person.
Melinda: It was extremely hard and sometimes it still is just depending on what’s going on… I’m just so used to supporting somebody that it’s just like… ‘okay, I’m just out there, it’s just me…’ But we have great support here, like the band and even the back up singers here… I call them ‘support singers’ though because they’re totally not back up! [laughs] I mean, it’s a hard journey but it’s so rewarding and so much fun. People are just so great about it that I can’t… I just have absolutely no complaints.
Me: I heard that you went to Zambia?
Melinda: [almost surprised] Yessssssss!
Me: And you went with Malaria…
Melinda: [finishing me off] I went with Malaria No More
Me: Well I was wondering how that was? I support an organization called Invisible Children which is tied in with Uganda –
Melinda: Oh my gosh!!!
Me: … but of course I’ve never been, so I could only imagine… so how was it for you?
Melinda: It was one of those events that was just so life changing. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa, first off all, so that was a life long dream that happened and it just blew my mind that I got the opportunity to do it. Then with Malaria No More, they were a huge part of Idol Gives Back so I kind of got to see what Idol Gives Back did. We gave out like half a million bed nets there! I just got more educated. I went there with Mrs. Bush, our first lady and the first lady of Zambia and it was just heaven on Earth to just be in the midst of royalty and to be included as part of that. I really got a chance to raise awareness and everything. I was just so honored. I was like “Are you serious? You want ME to go?” It was just an amazing trip. I got to sing with the choir there and go to some clinics and really see first hand what they need and how easy it is for us to help. I just want to tell EVERYBODY how easy it is!! It was a great GREAT opportunity.
Me: You said you were able to see all the stuff Idol Gives Back did… were you able to distribute any of it?
Melinda: I didn’t actually get to distribute any of it to people but what we did is we put together care packages and we handed them to Mrs. Bush and then she put it on a bike and the bikes were used by what they call ‘caregivers’ to take it out into the community and hand it all out. So we were able see how they were put together, get them on the bike and later on they were distributed. It was exciting just to know that it was out there.
Me: That’s great! I donated money to the
foundation and it’s good to have a first hand account of where it went.
Melinda: YAY! Thank you!
Me: Now, how were you asked to go on this trip?
Melinda: I think it was because of Idol Gives Back. They teamed up with the president’s malaria initiative so I think when they were planning the trip they wanted someone from Idol to go and I have no idea how I got chosen but I’m just grateful. I was like “I’m not going to ask any questions, maybe they couldn’t get somebody else but that’s okay!” However it worked out, I was just honored to be able to go and experience that. I came back and I’ve just been screaming about how it’s so easy to do! And what’s great is that there’s actually a fan group called “Melinda’s Back Ups” and the Back Ups are just the best people ever! For every show I do they’re donating bed nets and that’s their gift to me.
Me: That’s so great!
Melinda: I’m just so grateful. It’s great to see it continued.
Me: Well I have time for just one more quick question, so of course I have to ask you if you’re working on an album right now…
Melinda: Well… not really… I mean, I’m doing a little writing and just trying to prepare because I don’t really know what the future holds. So I’m just trying to prepare for that.
Me: Well when you’re all prepared and ready… do you know what kind of music you’re going to do?
Melinda: Oh yeah… well I love old school… like a little old school mixed with new school. I’d love to just put that all together and give it a little soul and just have some life stories on there. That’s the plan.
Me: Well I’m out of time so thank you so much for talking to me.
Melinda: No problem, it was a pleasure to meet you!
Melinda was a great way to start off the interviews with. Next up was Phil Stacey. To me, Phil was always memorable because of how he missed his second daughter's birth to audition. Obviously, that's some dedication he has right there. Though in the beginning of the competition I wasn't that big of a fan (I really thought he was going to be Josh Gracin part two) towards the end of his stay on Idol, I began to really enjoy the guy a whole ton. With Phil, as he is a father of two, I was quite curious about his family life.
Phil: Hi, I’m Phil!
Me: Hi! My name is Frances....
Phil: and you work for…
Me: Billboard? That’s kind of weird to say though because I won a contest to work for them, and this is my first huge interview thing and it’s all surreal for me [laughs].
Phil: Wow, that’s great! Congratulations!
Me: Thanks! Well… I was doing some online research and I found out that you’ve lived in a ton of places. Kentucky… Ohio… you went to school in Kansas and Tennessee… you’re in Florida now and that’s just crazy! [laughs] I guess the question is Why?
Phil: You forgot Oklahoma, Colorado,
Me: Maybe you should update your Wikipedia page!
Phil: I should probably! But yeah, you know, I’ve had an exciting life. I’d always complain about moving around when I was a kid and now I’m like a nomad at heart. When we’re settled down somewhere for more than like three years I start to get all fidgety and am just ready to move on, you know? But it turns out we’re getting ready to settle down now that my oldest daughter is getting ready to get into kindergarten. So we’ve decided to settle down in one location, which is going to bug me for sure at least for the first few years. So we’re going to move to Nashville this fall.
Me: Nashville… so you’re going to leave Jacksonville, which is where you’re at
right now, right?
Phil: I’m stationed over there
Me: So is your contract with the Navy over….
Phil: Yeah, this is the fourth year of my contract so I have a week left on it when I get back there when this tour is over.
Me: Wow well, that’s pretty cool. Alright, I gotta ask… any plans to grow out
Phil: Uhhh… yeah I don’t know….
Me: Cuz I see some stubble and I’m so used to like that clean look you had on Idol….
Phil: This is really just laziness more or less… I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. I haven’t thought too much about it.
Me: Weird Idol fans think about it – trust me.
Phil: Yep, there you go.
Me: So to audition for the show you missed the birth of your second daughter and I guess you can say that it was worth it because you made it on the show and made it quite far… but I’m just wondering, how did your wife and family feel about that?
Phil: Ummmm, well. It was actually my wife who pushed me to go do it. I didn’t want to… the baby came early though. She was due the 17th of October and she came the 5th of October but even with it being so close I didn’t want to leave because I had a feeling that even if I left for that short amount of time that I would miss it. I didn’t want to do it but my wife just believed in me that I could make it to this point so she just pushed me out the door to do it. Especially since by that time I had already made it through three or four rounds of auditions already. Because the Memphis auditions actually started in September. September the 2nd. You have to go through different rounds of auditions just to make it to Randy, Simon and Paula.
Me: Yeah, I was about to ask, I heard you have to go through different producers and stuff…
Phil: You have to go through the huge cattle call thing to see if you get cut… I think for us it was about 16,000 people got cut down to 400 and then you go through the first producer and they cut about a hundred people and that’s Nigel… no, the first one was Camden, Nigel was the second one and he cut it down to like about 100 people, and that’s all Randy, Simon and Paula saw.
Me: Wow, that’s not what you see on TV.
Phil: Yeah, exactly! So I was one of the 100 people so my wife made me do it.
Me: Well how does she feel, and how do your kids feel… I mean, their daddy’s an idol!
Phil: Well she [my daughter] doesn’t really have a grasp on it… I mean, I’ve been traveling with the Navy band so she’s been seeing me do this on a less glorified scale for years. She thinks it’s funny that people know who I am everywhere we go now! Other than that, she doesn’t really understand what’s going on.
Me: So are we going to see an album coming out for you soon?
Me: What kind of music?
Phil: I’m going to do country music… yeah, I’m moving to Nashville. I mean, I write and mainly who I am is a country singer… I mean I grew up listening to country music. I have a lot of gospel influence and I’ve been singing with the Navy rock band for the past five years so I have a lot of rock influence.
Me: Aren’t you working with the other Idols? Was it Chris Sligh who wrote a
song for you?
Phil: Actually, Chris Sligh and Chris Richardson have both written songs for me to pitch to the labels and obviously the final say, because it’s my first record, will be my labels decision. I hope I get both their songs on it because they’re both amazing songs.
Me: Well I’m out of time, so thanks for the interview.
Phil: Thank you for coming! You’re awesome!*
Me: Wow, thanks!
*for the record, I had to re-listen to that part of the recording to make sure I wasn't hearing things. Turns out, I wasn't hearing things and he did say I was awesome. Obviously, I win at life.
Next up was Sanjaya Malakar. I was most excited for this interview... not even, actually. I was excited to just MEET the one that is known as Sanjaya. The night before I was having dinner with some friends and we totally started to sing the "Sanjaya Anthem" all loudly to the dismay of other people dining in. The thing is, like many others I was not a fan of Sanjaya when the show began. Little by little though, I realized that he may not have the best vocal chops but damn, was he entertaining! I have to admit when he exited the show, I got a little bored. With Sanjaya, I wanted to know... well, what it's like being Sanjaya!
Me: While you were on Idol you obviously went through a ton – with vote for the worst and all that other stuff. While some of it was harsh, did you find any of it humorous? Like the SNL skit…
Sanjaya: When I saw the SNL skit I was freaking out! It was like an honor to be able to be parodied on SNL in my opinion. I think it’s really important to be able to laugh at yourself, and I did. Anytime I ever saw anything making fun of me, I just laughed at myself and it made it a lot easier because I just think it’s important to remember not to take yourself too seriously.
Me: That crying girl, Ashley Ferl… did that freak you out at all?
Sanjaya: YES. [laughs] I’m not going to lie, it did freak me out. But I think it would’ve freaked anyone out. I mean, she’s a sweetheart but [pauses] I don’t know… it was just really awkward at first. I was just like “Wow, how do I react to this? Do I comfort her? Or what do I do?” I saw her a couple of other times and every time I saw her, she cried. I just started to get used to it like... okay, that’s just how she is.
Me: Over the course of the season, your hair was the topic of many discussions.
Did you come up with those ideas?
Sanjaya: I had general ideas, like I knew for Diana Ross week that I wanted tight curls. The hair guy just kind of executed them for me. It was a joint effort.
Me: I read that you wanted to go to Berklee to get an education of the whole music industry…
Sanjaya: Yeah, I think it’s really important to know, like if you’re going to go into the entertainment industry to just know everything or just as much as you can about it. I mean, I really just want to focus on music. That’s the most important thing for me. But if at some point someone offers me something to branch out, I would definetly consider it.
Me: So you’d be open to modeling, acting…
Sanjaya: Yeah, of course!
Me: So that short you did with Will Ferrel… how did that come up?
Sanjaya: I don’t know… they just told me to come to L.A. early and brought me to this place and I was like “um, okay?” I mean, I had no clue what was going on but I trusted who I was with so I knew it wasn’t crazy and then the people that were there were like “Hi! We’re with…[forgets the name] we’re with uhh… “ I don’t know… [laughs] oh! Funnyordie.com! And they told me it was Will Ferrel and I was like “Oh, that’s cool!” and then they were like “Okay, we’re going to do this.” And I was just like “Okay?” but then it turned out to be really funny! And then they put it on the internet and people reacted a lot differently than I thought they would! I actually had to do a disclaimer afterwards to say that I was actually me and not the person I was in the video. It was pretty cool though.
Me: Alright so I was just told I can only ask one more question. I read that you finished high school early, graduating after sophomore year. You’re only 17 and I’m 20 and I couldn’t even imagine missing prom, graduation or any of those big high school events. Has not finishing high school on that kind of level affected you in any way?
Sanjaya: Well I was never into high school dances… I went to this one and it wasn’t too spectacular and then I was going to go to homecoming and ended up not going. The way I saw it was that I’d rather finish [high school] now and then continue doing what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. [Looks to see if the lady who’s timing the interviews is watching us and notices she’s not and whispers] Sneak in another question real fast!
Me: [quickly] Are you working on an
Sanjaya: Yes! I’m working on music write now and my sister is helping me write stuff.
Me: That’s awesome that you’re working with her and I guess that’s it for real now? [laughs] Thanks for sitting down with me!
Next up was the American Idol herself, Jordin Sparks. During the course of the season I think I could honestly say that she was not one of my favorites though I knew that she would be one of the main contenders to win it. Still, I was excited about being able to sit down and interview THE American Idol. After doing my research on the kid, I found out that she is actually pretty amazing for all that she's accomplished in 17 years. Plus, she shops at Torrid! Heck yes! When it came to Jordin, I wanted to know what it as like to be the youngest ever American Idol as well as the issues that came up after her win about her weight. Also, after reading about her past work in the Christian community, I had a few questions about that too. And for the record, interviewing Jordin didn't even feel like an interview! I felt like I was talking to a really good friend or something. The girl is probably the most genuine person I've ever come across.
Me: Jordin, you’re the youngest
Jordin: I KNOW!!!!
Me: You’re only 17! And I know that a lot of people think that when something
like this happens to someone so young and so sudden that it just goes straight
to their heads and with you it obviously hasn’t a-
Jordin: [cuts me off] Oh well, thank you! [laughs] Thanks so much!
Me: Well I don’t think it has at least! [laughs] Well, how do you keep your head on straight? I mean, you’re 17 and THE American Idol!
Jordin: I think part of it is that it’s still weird for me to even think about. It’s like “WHAT?” It’s just crazy. I would have never thought in a million years that I would’ve won this contest because I’m such a die hard Idol fan and I got to be a part of the show and now I won it and it’s just like… Whoa. I’ve got Melinda and she’s my life line and we all just have such a great time together and then I’ve got my mom because I am underage so my mom’s with me and I have a guardian and talk to my brother all the time. I just talk to my family all the time and they’re always like “Jordin, you can do this!” and when I feel I can’t they’re just like “Hey, don’t say that!” and I’m like “Okay okay mom, I’m sorry!” [laughs] They totally keep me grounded.
Me: I saw your Torrid ads from last year and I just wanted to let you know that you looked SO pretty in them! I was just wondering how you got into that and if you wanted to model in the future?
Jordin: Well thank you!! I would LOVE, I mean absolutely LOVE to model in the future. It would be so much fun! I just love taking pictures and it’s not in a… conceited way? I mean, I just like cameras and I love smiling! Smiling is my favorite! And I actually shopped there [Torrid] for awhile because I couldn’t fit in some clothes and I just needed to find something cute, right? So I went in there and there was something that said ‘model search’ so I picked one up and a few months later I was like “Hey! It would be awesome if I could do this” and I looked and saw that it was coming to a mall in Arizona and I ended up going and they chose me to do their model search and it was for an online catalogue and we just got along so well that they were like “Hey, do you want to do something for our Fall campaign?” and I was just like “Okay!” So that’s how that got started but I would love to do some more modeling stuff in the future. That would be awesome!
Me: Now, kind of on the subject along the lines of Torrid… and it sucks
bringing this up, but I don’t know if you read after you won Idol that there
was this lady…
Jordin: Yes! I know what you’re talking about!
*For those of you reading this that don’t know about what happened after the finale, here’s a direct cut and paste from Jordin’s Wikipedia page: MeMe Roth, of the National Action Against Obesity group in the U.S., said of Sparks, "When I look at Jordin I see diabetes, I see heart disease, I see high cholesterol. That's what's so sad about this - she is not the vision of health - she is the vision of 'unhealth'. Her extra weight is a reflection of today's society and a culture where many of our children have compromised health due to unhealthful food choices and inactivity ... We have to stop with the 'baby fat,' 'curvy,' 'goddess' euphemisms and own this child health crisis."*
Me: I just want to say that sucked, cuz I was like “jeeze, I’m bigger than her. What does that make me!” [laughs] But I mean, you are defying a stereotype right now because you’re not a size zero and you’re not only the Idol, but a popstar…
Jordin: You know, when she said that stuff I was just like “Okay. [pauses] So what are we doing today Mom?” I mean, it wasn’t one of those big things for me. I’m comfortable with myself. If she’s not comfortable with me then I guess there’s kind of a problem there! [laughs] But, I’m okay! I’m good! I’m not going to say that every day and I’m content with myself and stuff like that because nobody is but I’ve learned to love myself, you know? I’m happy with who I am and I’m definitely in a good place right now. Life is so great right now. I mean, she can say stuff and people can say things and focus on it but I’m like “Whatever.” Second of all, I could NEVER be a size zero! I would die, I think! [laughs] I love food way too much to even try to be that small! It just wouldn’t work!
Me: You used to do a lot in the Christian music community… do you want to continue with Christian music or do you just want to stick to pop music?
Jordin: You know what? I will never let go of my Christian roots or anything like that because my faith is something that is just so important to me. But I think I’m going to stay in the pop region but I still have my connections to like… Michael W Smith and I would love to do a duet with him someday if it’s in the cards. I’m still going to do it and maybe I’ll have some crossover songs! I would love to do that too.
Me: Do you think it’s hard since you’re such a devote Christian… weren’t you on
the cover of… is it “World” magazine?
Jordin: Yeah! I just saw that the other day and I was just like “Wow, that is a HUGE picture!” [laughs]
Me: Well, being that you’re young and there’s people out there like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan who are all in our same age group representing us… do you think it would be hard for you to continue living your Christian faith in the world of Hollywood?
Jordin: Well… I guess it would be hard for anybody. I mean, you’re thrown into this thing and you’re going 24/7 and you’re just stressed out all the time. Just stuff like that. I guess it could be hard but that’s what family is for! And we’re all good friends and they’re the ones who are supposed to keep you.. like “It’s okay, breathe! Take some time off for a little bit. Hey, why don’t you come sit with me for a little bit? We’ll talk.” It’s when I think that I don’t have anyone to talk to like that is when I just kind of freak out and stuff. But… I think I’ll be okay.
Me: Well, being that you’re so young a lot of people in our age group look up to you because, hey! You made it. Do you have any advice for people in our age group who want to audition for Idol? I actually have a friend who’s auditioned before and made it pretty far...
Jordin: Oh oh oh!!! Your friend has auditioned before? I definitely think that people should stay persistent because you never know what they’re looking for at the tables. One person could be looking for this and another person could be looking for something else. If you stay persistent they will see how much you want it. Also, sing a song that shows off your vocals but don’t sing a song that EVERYBODY’S going to sing because after the judges have heard it like 20 times? They don’t want to hear it anymore. Just be yourself because you know they’re going to try and see if you’ll crack under pressure and just be aware of that. And just keep good people around you if you make it and you’ll have a blast.
Me: okay well, I got the time warning earlier so I have to wrap it up but I
just want to say that you are so awesome! I know with your attitude you’re
going to make it so far in this industry.
Jordin: Thank you so much!
Me: I totally mean that! I can see why you won now.
Jordin: You’re awesome! [hugs]*
*Yes, Jordin Sparks also thinks I'm awesome. And I got a hug! I really mean it when I say that kid is amazing!
Next up was Chris Sligh. As I stated in my review of the show on Sunday, Chris was a favorite of mine up until his elimination (which was way too soon, in my opinion). I think he had me at "I want to make David Hasslehoff cry." Since I often get bored at my day job I lurk a lot of blogs and Chris' is one that I frequent. I'll be honest with you guys, I was actually really scared when I found out Chris was one of the Idols I got to interview. Pretty much because from reading his stuff, I know the guy is smart and I also know the guy is witty. I for some reason had this vision in my head of Chris using some huge word I had never heard of and me smiling stupidly at him like "uh huh...." not having a clue what he was talking about. Don't ask me why, I just did. My interview with Chris was actually my favorite after Jordin though. Since I knew he was a blogger and had run into some drama, I wanted to know about that. I also know that his band, Half Past Forever, at one point was a Christian band so I wanted to inquire about his thoughts on Christian music. I ended up finding out that Chris is actually writing a novel that sounds pretty awesome which you'll just have to continue reading to find out about...
Me: So I read that you wanted to quit the show like two weeks before you were actually eliminated. Why?
Chris: Well it was actually one of those passing thoughts. The way that I compare it is like… and I’m sure you’ve had this moment, especially when working with anything creative… there’s times when even though you love your job, there are times when you have a rough day and you just want to quit. And for me it was a rough week, that top 12 week. There was a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. We had one less day to prepare everything… my wife was in town for four days and I saw her for literally like 45 minutes. And then the song didn’t go as well as I obviously hoped it would and I was just like “oh my gosh, I can’t take this anymore.” … and then 30 minutes later I was fine. But it was more of a passing Oh my gosh, I can’t take this and then going “Wait, I love my job because I get to do what I love for a living…” It’s awesome.
Me: I read on your Wikipedia page
that you spend 10 years in Germany?
Chris: Yeah, my parents were actually missionaries over there actually.
Me: Oh really?
Chris: Yep! So I grew up from the time I was 7 to 17 over there. My parents worked with a little charity over there. I grew up near an Army and Air Force base and went to school with all the Army and Air Force kids there.
Me: Well that makes sense now, I just wanted to find out why because I was like “10 years in Germany? That’s random!”
Chris: [laughs] Yeah!
Me: Well, I read your blog… I actually read it today because you updated today for everyone to see. I also know for a fact because I lurk other blogs that people will take and exaggerate every little thing that you say on it. Does it irritate you that like, you’re just a normal guy but now you’ve gotten to the point of celebrity where people would actually care enough to do this?
Chris: I think that I went into this whole thing a little bit naïve. I was a blogger before and I’ve had my blog for a couple years now. I originally did it for just friends and family to keep up because like my band started to play a lot and we had just started to work on the album and I was just writing stuff for friends and family to read. And I don’t think I realized that what is happening now would happen to me. It bugged me for awhile… it really bugged me for awhile. And then I would try and clarify everything but then I was like, you know what? Ultimately I started doing this for friends and family and if people want to take it out of context or exaggerate or read into it, then that’s their prerogative and they’re going to do it no matter what. I’d rather just be myself and have fun with it. And you know, I have about 100 to 150 fans who are on it almost every day leaving comments and discussing stuff and those are the people that I really care about.
Me: You write some music reviews on your blog and I have to say, they are really damn good. Did you ever want to become an entertainment journalist by any chance?
Chris: I actually would love to do that like on the side. Being a classically trained musician and now that I’ve been doing it for like seven years, and I’m a producer and produce other acts… and actually, when I went to college I wasn’t a music major, I was actually a journalism major because I really loved to write… I wanted to write novels, actually. So, that’s a side of myself that I’d love to do on the side and I’ve actually already got some offers from some publications to do some writing for, so that should be fun. I’m also working on a novel. I love that side of things but obviously music is my first love. The thing that’s great about American Idol is that it gets me opportunities in other areas to be able to do that kind of fun stuff.
Me: Your band Half Past Forever… are you guys mainly a Christian rock band?
Chris: No, actually we’re just a mainstream rock band. I mean, we started off as a Christian band because I grew up in the church but about two and half years ago we started to make the move to move away from the church and just do mainstream stuff.
Me: That kind of throws out my next question [laughs]
Chris: Well, you can ask anyways!
Me: Well, I was going to ask if you think that Christian music has a chance of ever becoming mainstream. Like, do you think there’s ever going to be a day where I’m going to flip on the pop station and hear a Christian song?
Chris: Well, I don’t know if mainstream Christian music, as far as like… coming from my world, the Michael W Smith’s and the Steven Curtis Chapman’s, that’s like mainstream Christian music… I don’t know if that stuff will ever be, but I think you see some Christian acts that are kind of making their lyrics more universal like Switchfoot and Relient K… and Mute Math is actually one of my favorite bands. And all those guys are Christian and they started off as Christian bands but they make music that’s really universal and that’s the place where I’d like to be at. Obviously I’m a Christian and it’s a huge part of my life and it’s important to me, but at the same time if you’re not a Christian I still want you to be able to enjoy my music and understand that when I’m writing about love, the love that God has for me or that I have for God, is the same love that anybody can experience. That’s the way I look at it – I want to be able to write lyrics about love that people can understand and I want to write positive music that anyone can understand, obviously not just Christians. I don’t know if there ever will be a day… I think that there will always be a line where that mainstream kind of Christian music will never be in the general market.
Me: Well, I want to go back to your novel that you said you’re writing… what is it about?
Chris: Well, the name of the novel is actually “Lock, Stocks and Sylvia Romero” and it’s about this guy who works in stocks and he decides one day that he’s going to jump off a building and it’s like that day in his life. He’s just a really screwed up guy and he’s in love with this woman named Sylvia Romero and then there’s a policeman who he’s befriended in his subway ride every morning… so it’s kind of a dark comedy kind of thing and I’ve got like 15 chapters done so far. It’s going to be short novel, I’m about half way through with it.
Me: That sounds very Chuck Palahniuk like…
Chris: Yeah! [laughs] I think that it’s going to be really cool. We’ll see what happens with it. It’s not like any novel that I see out there so I think there’d be a market for it.
Me: Yeah, I was just about to say that in a world where everything seems to be a rip off of something…
Chris: That’s the thing. The novel ends up being this story about a day in this guy’s life and how he kind of comes to redemption. What I’ve written so far I’ve let a few friends read and they’ve been like “Wow, this is really really funny.”
Me: Well before I have to wrap this up I have to ask the album question so are you going to come out with an album or one with your band?
Chris: We’ve been discussing and trying to figure out what we’re going to do.
Maybe Chris Sligh and Half Past Forever or maybe just be Chris Sligh. But they’re
going to be my backing band no matter what on the road. In August I’ll be
signing with the management company that I plan on signing with then I’ll be
going with a record company soon after that. As soon as I get off tour I’m
going to be in the studio recording… in fact I have a demo studio here, iProTools
on the road and I record a bunch of songs with it.
Me: Well awesome. Thanks for your time and answering all my questions!
And that was it! It was such a great experience and as someone who has been a die hard Idol fan since I was 15... I'm totally going to remember it forever. Sure, I didn't get to meet imaginary future husband #93483043 Blake Lewis, but hey! I won't complain. I'm truly grateful for getting this chance to sit down with five of the Idols and ask them questions. It's always nice when you find out their personalities either match or are better than you expected.
Thanks Billboard for the chance of a lifetime. :)
Oh yeah, and for the record... the first thing everyone asked me when I got home was "WHAT DID SANJAYA'S HAIR LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU INTERVIEWED HIM?"