"American Idol" might have bid its year-end adieu from TV in May, but the show's cycle doesn't truly end until the annual American Idols Live! tour, which features the top 10 finalists from the most recent season. The 2014 edition arrives at Nassau Coliseum tomorrow and will be headed by Caleb Johnson, a 23-year- old hard rocker from Asheville, North Carolina, who took home the season 13 crown after a run where he stormed through roof-raisers like Wings' "Maybe I'm Amazed" and Whitesnake's "Still of the Night." (His full-bodied, octave- leaping voice brings to mind the pipes possessed by Whitesnake front man David Coverdale.)
Johnson, whose debut album, "Testify" (19/Interscope), hits stores Aug. 12, spoke by phone while joining some of his "Idol" castmates on what sounded like a particularly raucous Guitar Center run.
You've been working on your debut album and doing the tour at the same time. How is that going?
It's been a whirlwind, but it's been awesome. It's been going 100 miles an hour, and it's a wild, crazy experience. I've been working nonstop, and I love it. I can't wait for people to hear the record! It's a huge thing where I get to write and be involved 100 percent.
What kind of songs have you been writing?
Really heavy, soulful songs with visceral conviction -- rock and roll songs with soul. "Testify"] goes from theatrical songs to bluesy, soulful-stripped-down, visceral songs to bombastic, over-the-top stuff.
Before you won "Idol," you played with a band, Elijah Hooker. Did you tour widely?
We did regional stuff. This is on a national scale, and it's just been pandemonium. The crowds have been awesome. It's been complete madness in the best possible way.
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What's on the horizon for you after the tour?
I'll be promoting the record and touring the record, and doing shows. We'll be holding auditions . I want to get a band I can vibe off so I can have killer live shows.
Are any of your former bandmates going to try and step up?
Possibly. I'm not 100 percent sure yet.
You were the first person to bring Rush to "American Idol" when you covered "Working Man," and the response from the band's fan base was pretty positive. Did you ever hear from the band?
I heard from their management, but I didn't hear anything from the guys. I wish!
'AMERICAN IDOLS LIVE!'
WHEN | WHERE Friday at 8 p.m., Nassau Coliseum
INFO $47.85-$80.05; nassaucoliseum.com