We spoke with “American Idol” winner Lee DeWyze
when he was in Manhattan recently.
What made you decide to go on “American Idol”?
I really wanted to be a musician, and I really wanted to sing for everyone. So “American Idol” gives people the opportunity to do that.
Did you have to go to school to learn music?
I did not go to school to learn music, there are schools set up for music, and they’re actually very good. They can teach you a lot, especially if you want to be a singer or a guitar player, or if you want to play an instrument. I personally did not. I just started playing when I was really young, and I kind of got into it, but I went to real school obviously, but there’s music schools that I did not go to. I went to one guitar class one time, which was a lot of fun actually.
Was Simon mean to you sometimes?
Yes. Simon was mean to me sometimes. You know, he’s not really a mean guy; he’s just trying to be honest, and sometimes it sounded mean. I think that’s just his way of giving encouragement. You just got to learn not to take what they say to heart because a lot of times people say things, and you don’t always have to listen to it — especially if it’s negative. You don’t always want to listen to that stuff. Just try your best every time, and it doesn’t matter what anyone says.
Did you play an instrument in elementary school?
I think I messed around with the guitar a little bit. I played the drums, also. But in elementary school, I was a little more shy about it. I wish I wouldn’t have been. It’s really fun playing in front of people, and in elementary school I just kind of started to play the guitar and stuff.
Who or what inspired you to sing?
A lot of the bands I listened to growing up, my parents inspired me to sing. Do your parents listen to music? Well, I used to listen to music with my parents, and when I would hear songs that I liked and stuff, we’d put a CD player or record on, and we would listen.
How much time did you spend a week on music?
Every day, I’m doing something with my music whether it be writing something, playing or performing or doing something outside. I’m always concentrating on my music. The thing about it: If you want to do something, you always got to dedicate a lot of time to it. You got to work really hard at it. If you don’t, you’ll never reach your goal. I try to spend every day doing something with my music.
Who is your favorite singer?
You know who John Lennon is, The Beatles, right? He’s my favorite singer of all time. There’s a lot of artists out there that are really good that I like to listen to. I think that singing, it’s kind of like art, a lot of people do it differently but appreciate it all the same.
When you first joined “American Idol,” did you have a feeling that you would win?
Yeah, it’s kind of why I joined. I thought that maybe I could win the show. That’s why everybody signs up. Everything was a step process. Every week, I just tried to concentrate on that week and then set a goal for myself every week, and then follow through with it.
What was on your mind when you were picked as the “American Idol” ?
I don’t remember so much. At the time, it was kind of like a big blur. Everything kind of came at me quickly. It was really fast. I do remember being happy. I knew that song was going to start playing, I was going to have to sing. I tried to focus on that a little bit. It was really fun. It was really amazing to have started something and then you have won. It was really good to hear my name.
Did you play any sports when you were younger?
Yes, I played baseball for a long time. When I was a kid all the way up to high school, I played baseball. I was a catcher. When I was younger, it was always kind of sports. As I got older, when I was 15 or 16, I started playing the guitar and playing stuff like that. Yeah, I loved sports, and I still love sports.
What is your plan after winning “American Idol”?
To make a CD. To go on tour and have fun with a lot of the friends I made on the show. We’re going to have a good time.
What did you do with your friends in your free time?
We kind of hung out. We just kind of did this. We hung out and sat around and talked. There wasn’t much time always for us to go out and do things. The show was pretty busy, so what we’d do was just kind of hang out, talk about the show, talk about what was going on outside the show, and just try and enjoy the time we had together because we’d be eliminated, but we’re all friends. We’d just hang out.
How did you feel when you stepped out onstage and sang in front of all those people?
It was pretty scary. I’ve got to admit it was pretty scary to be in front of all those people for the first time. It’s a lot of people watching; you’ve guys have seen the show — it’s a lot of people, and it’s hard to get over that. It’s a big part of facing your fears. I was afraid to go out there at first, and then I was able to do it because I realized it was what I wanted to do, and I had fun with it. It was a little scary at first.
Did you like Ellen, Randy and Cara?
Yes. They are very nice people, actually. We didn’t get to spend much time with them other than when we saw them on the show; but when we did get a chance to meet them, they were very nice people, and it was really cool to meet them off the show because we only saw them on the show. They’re really nice people, they’re cool.
What do you remember about being in fourth grade?
Fourth grade. Wow! I remember recess. That’s always fun. I liked science a lot. Science was my favorite class. I’ve always like science. You guys have science right? You learn about bugs and plants and all that kind of stuff. That was my favorite kind of stuff. What’s your favorite subject? See, that’s what I’m talking about. Science is the best.
What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
So many good ones. I actually liked Tom and Jerry a lot. Do you guys ever watch Tom and Jerry? Tom and Jerry? Tom and Jerry was fun. I remember I used to watch it with my little brother all the time. I have a little brother. I had a little brother; he’s like 3 times taller than me now. I like Tom and Jerry a lot. That was one of my favorites — and Bugs Bunny.
Why did you want to go on “American Idol”?
I wanted to be a musician. So for me, “American Idol” was one of the things I had to do to become a musician on that big stage. Because even without “American Idol,” I was still a musician, but I wanted to be in front of big crowds, I want to make an album and all those kinds of things. So it was just a step I had to take to get where I wanted to be.