Phillip Phillips was happy to spend his fifth anniversary with girlfriend Hannah Blackwell at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.

The "Home" singer wasn't onstage. He and Blackwell were in the audience enjoying Lionel Richie's June 25 show.

"It was a lot of fun," Phillips said on a break from his current co-headlining tour with O.A.R. "I'm so glad it worked out."

After all, Phillips, who is promoting his new album, "Behind the Light" (Interscope), and the hit "Raging Fire" on his current tour, is pretty busy these days. However, Phillips is thrilled about how much time he has now for his music compared to the days when he was busy winning "American Idol."

"Behind the Light" is so much deeper than your debut album. Are you happy with how it turned out?

I'm so proud of it. It's so much better than the first album. It's more mature and I got to spend more time on it. All the songs have a little more heaviness to them -- musically and lyrically. You can definitely hear the difference. ... It has so much emotion. It's a little bit deeper. To me, it sounds more like a band record than just me. I brought my band in that plays with me live and we would just jam on all of these songs until something started to feel right.

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And it seems like there are two halves to the album -- the upbeat half and the more experimental half. Was that by design?

You hear "Raging Fire" and then you hear "Trigger," and they're both acoustic songs, and they both have a heaviness to them. ... But "Trigger" is a little bit darker. Then you hear "Thicket" and that started just as a guitar riff. I used it as a guitar exercise. ... It's the coolest song on the album to me. Then you hear "Unpack Your Heart," which is just a good love song. You gotta waltz some with labels on albums. You gotta write the singles. ... There's a lot of rock on it. It's not as folkie as the first album.

How do you feel about "Home" being the song most people associate with you?

"Home" has gotten me to do some great things, and it's gotten my foot in the door for a lot. I'll always have a special place for that song. But I feel that "Gone, Gone, Gone" and "Raging Fire" -- there's been such great reaction to those songs live -- make it more than just about "Home" now. I think "Home" surprised everyone. No one, not even Iovine, realized that the song was going to do that.

Did it create a lot of pressure when you were working on this album to match that success?

For me, I'd rather have five or six songs that sell a million copies than have one song like that that sells 6 or 7 million. I wanted this album to be seen as a whole and not just one song or two songs. I feel like this album has that. ... You never know.


WHEN|WHERE 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh

INFO $25-$99.50; 866-558-8468,