Kris Allen chats new record and the American Idol finale!

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A few years back, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kris Allen. Unfortunately just a few days prior, Allen had gotten into a massive head on collision that resulted in him having to have multiple wrist surgeries and yet still he made the effort to go out on the tour he had scheduled. Not fully being up to it made the interview a group interview in press conference style. So while it was good, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity to have a full form interview with Allen when he played Club 939 in Boston earlier this month.
At this point, he still only has about 30% control of the wrist he injured in the accident but with a new record under his belt and a new child on the way, he told me, Allen seems in better shape then he has ever been. He performed an hour later to a packed room singing every word back to him and put on an excellent show. Read our new interview below with Allen where we covered topics from how he wrote this record to even his time on the series finale of American Idol the week before!

During the time that you took off the road, when you were working on this record and focusing on this record, I’m sure you’ve had that time now and things are probably going a lot better. Maybe when did you kind of start the writing for this record?
I think I wrote the first song for this record in the summer of last year. I was on a flight and I just started jotting some things down and kind of singing them to myself into my phone. I kind of finished it which is super weird I’ve never done that before on a plane with no instruments. Just singing and that was really bizarre. I remember going home and like playing it immediately and it just felt really good. I think that song “Waves” kind of set the tone for the rest of the record.

And was it something, you were talking about how you were writing it on the plane, where they were all songs that you wrote specifically for this record? we’re some of them of kind of pulled from older sessions? 
These were all specifically for this.
So you kind of write fresh for every record? 
My thing is that if it didn’t end up on the record, it probably wasn’t good enough. We did ten songs for this record. There are three or four that I’m really excited about that I think I will release in some way. I don’t think it will be like full out record but there are tunes that weren’t quite there or just didn’t fit maybe or I forgot or something like that. But that will essentially be leaving them with this record and then moving on to the next one.

Then considering you’ve been doing this for so long, do you think the songwriting process still kind of changes? 
Yeah I think for me it has to. I feel like I never want to write the same song. I never want to write the same chord progressions that kind of thing. I keep telling people that I’m not A.D.D but maybe I am. I don’t know. I just think that for me, new things with songs, approaching songs in different ways is exciting for me. So I enjoy writing with different people so I wrote with different people on this record. I think I focused more on the lyrics first then the melodies which is really interesting. If the lyrics are good, you can find the melody but when the melody’s good, sometimes you can’t always find the lyrics. It’s hard too because if that syllable doesn’t match up completely then it’s hard. It allows you to be a little more experimental with the melodies too. I definitely wrote a lot of these songs lyrics first.

You talked about how you kind of wrote with other people. Is it something where you each kind of brought your own ideas or is it something where you kind of sat down in a room together? 
Yeah I think that it’s different for every writing session. So for “Time Will Come”, I wrote that with a couple guys and actually it was over a period of time too. So I came in with the lick and all that and then it kind of blossomed into something for that writing session. Then in a different one, I wrote the bridge and so there’s that way. Then for something like “If We Keep Doing Nothing”, that was all just in the moment. They’re all different but they all work. I’m always tweaking stuff afterwards too which makes people mad but sorry!

No that’s good! Then I wanted to ask you, this tour is going pretty well. I know you obviously have a very solid line before your show tonight which is always good. 
Yeah, it’s really great.
Maybe how has this run been going considering there was a little bit of a break from the road. Obviously you went through something very major.
So this is our fourth show. I think it’s going really well and that’s a testament to not only myself but like to the team around me as well. They’re just doing a great job. They are making sure that people know because I think that that is the hardest thing. Is getting people to know. It’s not easy and they know how to do it which is great. We would play shows and people were like I didn’t even know you were here and that’s still going to happen. It’s always going to happen but just making sure that it doesn’t happen as much and they’re really good at that.

Perfect then I wanted to ask you the show that helped you break out just came to an end and I know you played on the finale as well. Maybe how do you think that’ shelled your career and if anything I know you hate to say hurt but obviously there have been some people on that show who have gained success and some who have faded out. You’re one of those people who have obviously found success but kind of maybe looking back on it? 
I’ll start with the negative first and I think this is bananas that it happens but it does. Part of me gets it but the people that won’t work with you because you were on the show. There’s this stigma, not to everyone. I think that’s the great thing about being in Nashville is that everyone feels like it’s an acceptable thing. For a lot of people, it’s not. Certain venues wouldn’t let me play there. It’s dumb, I wouldn’t call it weird. There’s a stigma about a TV show and we’re not cool. We’re not cool enough to be, I know I’m not cool at all, but I’m still a musician and I still work really hard. You want to be respected and sometimes a show doesn’t give you that respect. To everyone. Now the great thing about the show is that it helps you get an opportunity. When I started making music, I was young and there wasn’t YouTube. There kind of was but people weren’t using it as like that jumping off point. So for me, it was that for me. It gave me the opportunity I didn’t think I had. I still think I would have been making music but it wouldn’t have been at this level. I don’t think anyways. It’s done everything. It changed my life. It’s been the best thing in the world. There are times when I didn’t realize it then now I’m so thankful because I don’t know what I would have been doing. I’m not good at anything else.
I ask because they have success stories alike you obviously and who you played with that season, Adam as well .Then you have like your Carrie Underwood who obviously has become a major sensation and Kelly but you have had some that even though they won, they kind of like faded out and didn’t really play as much. 
Well I think right after the show, you kind of expect something. You expect success. Like you’re on this crazy, crazy show and it’s huge.
You have to kind of work for it.
But nothing is given to you. Nothing is given to you and success is relative too. So there are people that are maybe not in the limelight but they’re playing Vegas shows. You’re playing music for a living, that’s amazing but I do think that people realize really quick that you have to work really hard and you have to feed your fans. Because those fans will go away quick if you’re not giving them music or content of any sort. You do, you realize that very fast. The show was a different beast when I was on it too. It was huge.

Then to maybe end it off, like you said, you just started this tour but you still have a quite a while to go and the record is brand new. Only came out last month. Kind of what’s the plan for Kris Allen, for the next few months after this run?
We’ll finish this tour and even through this tour, I think there will be some new releases. We shot a video for the first single that will come out. We’re doing the radio thing as well. After the tour though, I’m like butted up right against having another kid.
Congratuations, that’s exciting!
Thanks! So I’m going to take a little bit of time and do a little, what is it called?
Being a dad? Being a dad?
A paternity leave. Thanks, Bill! I think Bill Clinton put that into action. I’m giving myself paternity leave, I’m self employed. No one is allowing me to do that but I’ll take a little time to do that and then afterwards, we’ll probably go on the road. Maybe we’ll go internationally. I know that people are wanting that, I would love to do that.

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Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.

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