James Durbin certainly has a full plate this holiday season. The American Idol castoff and rocker, 22, is not only releasing his debut disc, Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster, on Monday, but he's also prepping for his upcoming New Year’s Eve wedding to fiancee Heidi Lowe (psst: the pair's two-year-old son Hunter will be the ringbearer, and some of his fellow Idol alumni will be guests!). I recently dialed up Durbin to get the skinny on his "small" day.
US: So tell me about the new album.
James Durbin: I got to work with some amazing people. Howard B I got to write with my favorite band in the world. They're from Sweden and called Hardcore Superstar. It's been amazing. It's been a dream come true.
US: And what's the significance of titling your record "Memories of a Beautiful Disaster"?
JD: It's about looking back at the times in my life, when at the time of growing up I thought, "How did I let this happen? Why did I let this happen? This is a disaster. I wish this never happened!" But now being older I realize that these moments in time make me who I am today, and without them, I’m nothing. I might as well not be here because they make me who I am, and I never want to change that. So I am the beautiful disaster, and those are my memories.
US: So are you glad you did Idol? Do you think it helped you with your career?
JD: It was an amazing experience and I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am right now if it wasn't for being on Idol and having that experience. There's nothing like it. There's so much that had to be done to get on the show and then everything, like Hollywood Week and Vegas Week and just the whole ringer they put us through prepares you just a tiny bit for what's going on in your career. I had never done any sort of interviews. I didn't know how to act on camera. I didn't know how to tell my story or say the right thing or say the wrong thing. You know, I had no filter, and now here I am on the road in the press circuit with my album for my career and I've had that experience from being on the show to give me a little bit extra of knowing what I'm actually doing, and what's actually going on. I had no idea of any business things. I just thought, "Alright. I'm just going to write music, make music. I'm going to sing my ass of and someone is bound to notice." But that's only half of it. There's so much you've got to learn.
US: Totally. So how is it planning your wedding to Heidi while launching an album? That's got to be a lot of work!
JD: I think a lot of the work happened because I was on the Idol tour and she was at home trying to figure out all this stuff for the wedding and being gone, and not being there for support - that's tough. We've gotten the time to organize our stuff and to get all our decorations figured out and our food and everything, and she's got her dress figured out. And I'm still figuring out what the hell I'm going to wear! But we've got our invitations sent out and we're getting out RSVPs. At this point, we're having such a small wedding that it's not this big hassle that we can't handle. We're planning it all ourselves. We don't need a wedding planner. We're not that crazy about it, you know. It's not about everyone else. It's about us, and we're keeping that mindset. Only 85 people will be there.
US: It's New Years Eve. Is there anything significant about that day?
JD: Oh we're just getting married at the end of the year. Nothing special but us and it's our day. It doesn't matter what day it is. It's our day.
US: How long have you been together?
JD: Almost four years, and we have a son now. We met at a karaoke party. My friend was hosting it, and Heidi was there for a co-workers going away party and I was there because I went every week and I didn't have a life, so I would go to the karaoke show and it was very crazy. She was there for a going away party, and I was singing karaoke and she came up to me and said, "Hey. I'm Heidi. Do you remember me?" I said, "No." And she said, "Our moms were friends at church." It turns out our moms were friends at church when I was four and she was thirteen! So she's nine years older than me and fifteen years later, I was nineteen and she was twenty-eight. We met coincidentally there, and it's crazy because I was able to channel this into the record of where I was and what I wasn't doing and then meeting Heidi. It's actually the first song on the record. It's called "Higher Than Heaven." And the lyric is, "What was love? Something I'd just dreamed of. Some more in the corner of my heart, ripping and tearing me apart. I was numb and had my demons. I gave up. You gave me reasons. Angels saved me. God forgave me, but you alone take me higher than heaven. I don't need mercy. Nothing can hurt me as long as your with me, I'm higher than heaven." And if it wasn't for that night and meeting Heidi that way, I wouldn't have anything to say for my life, you know. She really picked me up and showed me the way and everything from birth to 19, I accredit to my mom. From 19 to now, almost 23, I credit Heidi. Behind every successful man there's an even better woman. I wouldn't be anywhere if it wasn't for Heidi.
US: How has it been being a dad?
JD: I mean, having a child brings anyone closer. It's unbelievable just being able to be a dad and being able to share in this relationship with each other. It's absolutely amazing you know. It makes me feel so much more worthy of life now that I'm able to share my love and give my love to my son. It really makes me mature and it really gives me that sense of living.
US: Is there any milestones with your son? Is he a budding musician already?
JD: Oh there's tons and tons of musical ability. Every time he picks up a guitar, or holds a guitar, he has to hold a pic. He can put his shoes on himself already. He's two and a half. He puts his sandals on. He unvelcroes them and lines them up with his legs and figures out with side to put them on and puts them on, and laces them up real nice and tight and says, "Daddy! I put on my Spiderman shoes!" And I'm like, ‘You're two and a half! Not only should you not be talking like that, you shouldn't be putting your shoes on.’ It's absolutely amazing. He know s all the songs I sang on Idol. He knows the words to "Stand Up" and the "Love Me Bad" already.He's a little jukebox. Whenever a song is on in the car that either I sang on Idol or that - Heidi loves country, so she plays a lot of country when she's driving around, when I'm not home with Hunter - He's two and half and he literally knows all the words, and will sing along with "She's Country" by Jason Aldean. He knows the song completely. It's so funny. He doesn't have idea what he's saying. It's very cute.
US: Are any Idol people going to be at your wedding? Is J-Lo going to be standing there giving you away or anything?
JD: (laughs) Definitely not J. Lo. No offense. My Idol guys Stefano Langone, Paul Mcdonald and Casey Abrams are going to be there.. Like I said, it's very small. We're keeping it to people we spend a lot of time with and I spent the past year with those guys, you know, learning, and getting to know them. I haven't seen those guys in a while. But it is great, great, great, great, great to be home in Santa Cruz. There' s still so much love and support back there and my favorite sandwich shop has a sandwich called the Durbinator. It's what I always get. I've been taking the band there. A place called Zoccoli's. I The band always gets a chicken with artichoke with pesto sandwich. And so they just named that the James Durbin Bandwich!''