Bo Bice, Carrie Underwood

Bo Bice is a busy man. In the four years since his run on American Idol (in which he was the runner-up, behind Carrie Underwood), the Southern rocker has overcome health issues, has had a second child, built a recording studio in his Nashville home, performed for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq multiple times and appeared on American Idol Rewind. TVGuide.com caught up with him to find out how he views the Idol experience, what he thinks of his competition — and what advice he'd give to newly minted alums. 

TVGuide.com: Looking back now, do you have any new revelations about your experience on the show?
Bo Bice: I never struggled a day on Idol, but I looked back to all the stuff that was going on and I go, 'Oh, good lord. Thank you for pulling me through that.' Because there was so much stuff going on in my life—you don't get paid to be on that show. And you're not working ... and you can't tell people that you've been chosen and made it through. It's a weird kind of thing that you go through. You identify with all these other folks that have gone through the exact same thing. 

TVGuide.com: Do you think the way contestant are approaching things has changed since your year? How do you view this year's crop?
Bice: These people now are playing instruments and things like that. We tried to do that in my year, we asked them if we could... . But I looked at that when they first started allowing people to play, and ... as I watched the progression go on, there were some people that hid behind the guitar, or hid behind the piano, and they used it more as a prop and not so much as an instrument. You have to really be careful with that. 

TVGuide.com: Is there competition among alumni? What's the vibe?
Bice: When I say this, I don't mean it in an arrogant, pompous way — I don't feel like I have any competition ... . The competition was over when the cameras stopped rolling, for me... . [Every] person has an ego. When they wake up and they see somebody's video up at number one, they go, 'Man I wish my video was number one.' It doesn't matter if it's Carrie Underwood or if it's David Cook or if it's me... . That's just the ego inside of us artists that actually drives us.

TVGuide.com: What advice would you give to this year's Idol alumni as they go out into the world?
Bo Bice: I always tell them to take advantage of every opportunity that you can... . I think if more people went in knowing that the celebrity factor — or whatever this is — it's an ebb and flow kind of thing. ... As artists, we want to go, go, go. And when you're on top, you want to stay on top, you're just running to beat the clock. And, you miss everything. Everything was going so fast around me. ... So, that's the best advice I can give, is to just truly, truly enjoy it, and just be smart. Be smart and work hard. I can tell you about the drugs and the alcohol and all this stuff that can be sidetracks and deterrents. I can sit here and talk about all these things — the business [too]. But at the end of the day, remember what you started doing this for: Because you love it.

 Ready for Idol's finals? Starting Monday, May 18, tune into the TV Guide Network for a special week of American Idol coverage: 

  • Monday, May 18 (8 pm/ET- 10 pm): Idol Tonight, with co-hosts Kimberly Caldwell and Justin Guarini
  • Tuesday, May 19 (6 pm- 8pm): Idol Tonight
  • Wednesday, May 20 (6 pm-8 pm): Idol Tonight: Live at the Finale
  •  Thursday, May 21 (8 pm-10 pm): Idol Tonight: Fantastic Finish