Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blake Lewis: "I'm learning from my mistakes"

In my opinion, Blake Lewis is still the most original contestant in “Idol” history. Blake took chances that no other contestant ever had before. And without him opening the door, there would’ve been no David Cook, and possibly no Adam Lambert…

But sadly the powers-that-be didn’t embrace that originality and tried to shove Blake into their usual mold. The result was that Blake’s CD, “Audio Day Dream”—which I still consider to be among the best “Idol” albums ever—did not get the promotion that it deserved.

Thankfully, though, Blake has not let that experience stop him and he’s now found a home at Tommy Boy Entertainment, which is much more suited to his style. “Heartbreak on Vinyl,” Blake’s sophomore album, will hit stores October 6th…

Monday, I had the chance to chat with Blake about the CD and what he learned from his “ADD” experience…

For those who haven’t heard it, Blake described “Heartbreak” as “kind of an indie pop dance record with a nostalgic 80s feel.” He hopes that it will make people “lose their inhibitions and just rock out. I’m really proud of this record.”

Blake co-wrote almost every track on this “very personal record.” He told me, “It’s about my last love.” When Blake mentioned that some of the songs were very personal, I asked him which ones in particular and he ended up naming almost all of them. “It was very cathartic,” he said.

A trip to New York’s Union Square Virgin Megastore, which was getting ready to close, inspired one of the catchiest tracks on the CD, the title track “Heartbreak on Vinyl.” Blake described it as “a sentimental song about indie record stores closing down. I’m a huge advocate for shopping at record stores.” But Blake knows that sadly, those opportunities are becoming few and far between as the music industry continues to change.

And speaking of the industry, what did Blake learn from his “ADD” experience that is helping him today? “So much. I learned about the jaded music industry. How it’s eating itself. I learned money talks…It’s too much to explain. But I’m learning from my mistakes. It was a great learning year.”

I had to ask if “Heartbreak” is more like what he wanted to do the first time around. “Yeah definitely. But Clive Davis and the powers-that-be would not let me.”

Of course, I had to turn our conversation eventually to “American Idol,” so I asked Blake if he gets tired of people still asking him about it. “Yes and no. It depends on if I’ve had 300 questions about it in a row. It’s part of my life and I embrace it. A lot of people care about this amazing show…And I made it pretty d--n far.”

And the number one question people still ask him about the show? No surprise, it’s “Is Simon really mean?” For the record, Blake says the answer is no.

I then turned to asking some of your questions. He didn’t answer whether or not he was single, but he did tell me which former Idol he would most like to work with. “I would love to take Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood and produce them in a totally different way. I like to take people out of their comfort zone.”

As for this season’s contestants, Blake said he’s a fan of Adam Lambert and Matt Giraud, but he said he “could find something fun to do with all of them.”

Blake said he is hoping to go on tour in November and December. He’s looking forward to sharing his music with his fans, but he admits that being on the road can be difficult. “The last tour was definitely hectic. It’s different being on the road. It’s mentally stressful.”

And not to worry “ADD” fans, Blake will be doing songs from that one on tour as well. “I’m very proud of that record. There are songs I love to sing from that record. Those are songs that will be in the mix.”

Since Blake has learned so much in such a short time, I asked him what advice he would give to someone just starting out. “Learn as much as you can about the music business. All the stuff that I didn’t know that would’ve helped me out.”

The good news is that it sounds like Blake is getting it figured out now…

I’ll have a complete review of “Heartbreak” next week. In the meantime, you can get more information on Blake on Blake’s website, or on Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace

Photo Credit: Myriam Santos