James Durbin, last season’s most enigmatic “American Idol” hopeful, says he “most definitely” feels the Bay Area helped fuel his mod-metal-rock vibe.
Thanks at least in part to The City’s leanings and the creative juices of his hometown Santa Cruz, the 22-year-old rose to meteoric heights on “Idol.”
He may have been the head-turning, surprise third runner-up, but like “Idol” alum Chris Daughtry, who came in fourth several years back, Durbin has generated more attention as a nonwinner.
“Memories of a Beautiful Disaster,” the singer’s recently released first studio album, is filled with anthems and other surprises. Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, songwriters James Michael (Sixx A.M, Mötley Crüe) and Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Buckcherry, Ozzy Osbourne) come along for the ride; “Idol’” David Cook also co-wrote an entry.
As for the album’s title, Durbin chuckles.
“It’s all about me looking back at my life,” he says. “Looking back at things that, maybe at the time I wished hadn’t happened, but now, where I am in life and who I’ve become — a father and soon-to-be husband — I can look back and appreciate what those times actually were … instead of what they weren’t.”
Durbin — passionate, deep and outspoken — has talked openly about the effects that Tourette’s and Asperger’s syndromes have had on him — basically, that he has both conditions but they don’t “have” him.
He views his rise as somewhat heaven-sent.
“I got laid off at my job at Domino’s pizza right before the ‘Idol’ audition,” he says. “I was like, ‘OK, it’s a sign.’ I thought, it’s now or never — really. I took a chance. It was a leap of faith.”
With upcoming concert appearances on the agenda, he’s taking time to appreciate that he’s able to support himself by doing what he loves.
“I’ve never been one where I was like, ‘I want to be filthy rich — huge cars, giant houses.’ That’s not my scene,” he adds. “I don’t take anything for granted. It’s a difficult thing. But it really is true. It could all be gone in a second.”