We met “American Idol’s” runner up Casey James when he was in Manhattan recently. We met him at the Essex House Hotel.
Was “American Idol” a first in your singing or acting career?
For anything with cameras it was my first time, but I’ve been doing music for a long time.
Who inspired you to sing?
I don’t know if there was a particular thing or person, but I was playing a video game one day and my brother was trying to learn a chord on a guitar and I kept thinking it had to be easier than that. So I got up and tried to learn it and that was the beginning.
What’s a week like on “American Idol”?
Tuesdays were show days, so we’d wake up and come into the studio go through hair and makeup, wardrobe and eat food and do interviews. And then we would do a dress rehearsal. Actually we would rehearse with the band first then we would do a dress rehearsal, then we would do the show and then we would do more interviews. And Wednesday is kind of the same thing except without the rehearsals. We’d do rehearsing for camera blocking, which is where they would tell you where to stand on the stage, stuff like that. And then Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday is just rehearsals and interviews.
Who do you think was your biggest competition?
Probably the same people that beat me.
How did you get along with the other contestants?
Very well. You don’t get a whole lot of chance or time to interact with everybody because you’re so busy. So when things calm down and you get to know everybody it’s really nice because everybody’s really good people.
Did you ever truly feel that you would go home on elimination night?
Yes. I was just prepared every single Wednesday. I went in every Tuesday with the thoughts that I’m going to have the best time that I could have and do the best that I could do and every Wednesday I would say I’m thankful for where I’m at, and if I go home I would be prepared and if I don’t go home, I will be thankful once again. So I was ready every time.
How far do you think you would have gotten in your point of view?
If things were different, I think I would always be third. I was always meant to be third. I think I got exactly where I was supposed to be.
What was your favorite night of the week?
Performance nights. My favorite. Just like the best part of the whole thing to go up there and do your music.
What kind of artist do you think you are or want to be?
Well, I think I want to be the artist that I am. I’ll answer that one in one answer instead of two. I like country, blues and rock the most. So I try to mix all those together any time I play and sing. And that’s what I want to do and I hope I get a chance to do it.
When the judges gave you constructive criticism did you ever disagree with them?
Everybody’s opinion is the way they feel. So I can’t really disagree with the way they feel, but that sometimes I could use it and sometimes I couldn’t.
Of the many show themes, what was the most challenging for you and what did you think you did the best in?
What was the week that I didn’t get to play my guitar? It was Frank Sinatra week. That was the hardest for me. I’ve never not played a guitar. So I’ve never held a microphone, and for me it’s kind of like — the vibrations of the guitar gives me my pitch. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone. And I think R&B week was my favorite. That and Beatles week was fun too. They were all good.
How did you feel when Kara asked you to take your shirt off during your audition?
You know what? I was thankful that I had an opportunity to so something that crazy because I think I would not have made it otherwise. Everything works out for a reason, so I think it probably got me to the next stage. So I would have never made it to where I was going if it didn’t happen. So I’m really thankful.
How do you get started in “American Idol”? Like do you have to go through different stages before you go and meet Simon and Kara and Randy ?
You sure do. You go to the stadium and then in between the stadium what you see on the TV is — there’s some stages in between you don’t really see. You have to audition for the record label, for producers and for executive producers and I can’t remember how many auditions there were in between, but it was quite a few.
Are any of your family members also singers?
They sure are. Every one of them. I’m the worst out of everybody. I am. My mom sings, my brother plays and sings, my cousins both play and sing, my uncle plays and sings, my aunt, my nana when she passed away she sang and my dad. They all play and sing.
What is your favorite thing about singing?
I like being able to create something. I can’t draw or paint or anything like that. So being able to express myself and create something and the sound that it makes, I guess. Physically I like to hear it.
If you want to get started in singing what’s a good way to start?
Just start singing. That’s how I did it. I started when I was — I don’t even remember. I was younger than my memory allows me to remember. So just if you like to sing, just start singing and sing songs you like to sing. Don’t be shy. That’s the way I did it.
I have to ask what’s the hair styling method?
I don’t do anything special. I just get out of the shower and I put in some gel that I got. I don’t know what it’s called actually, from Walmart. And I just put it in my hair and go like that and then I let it dry. Eventually when it gets dry I just do this again because it kind of looks like its got wet stuff in it. And it’s self fixed.
How did you feel about the John Mayer song chosen for you?
I liked it. I like John Mayer a lot. I was pretty glad I got that song.
How does being on “American Idol” change you as a singer?
I don’t know if it changed me as a singer, but it changed me as a person. Because I know so much more now. I came in and didn’t know anything about the show or TV. That side of it and now you know all the things that go behind the scenes and there’s so many people that do. Like this guy right here is doing some of it. And a show like "American Idol," you have a bunch of people behind the scenes doing things like that. And they all have systems and every single person’s job is so important that the show couldn’t work without them. It’s really neat to see it happen. So I know a lot more about things now than I did and in that way it’s changed me as a whole different person.
What is it like to be famous and how does it feel to be looked up to?
That’s a good question. I’m still figuring out how it feels to be famous. I don’t think of myself that way, but it’s nice to know that people look up to you and my toughest job I think is going to be responsible with that and make sure I always act right and give people a good role model. Because apparently that’s what I am now. So I want to make sure that I use it in the right way.
Are you allowed to visit your family while you’re on the show?
You’re allowed but you don’t have much time for it, so you just have to kind of fit it in when you get a chance.