It's been less than a month since Blake Lewis inked a deal with Arista Records. But the American Idol runner-up is already hard at work laying down tracks for his debut album. Lewis has already recorded half a dozen songs while on tour with American Idols Live! And, despite the mounting pressure of a December release date, the spiky-haired singer promises he's holding up just fine — as evidenced in this chat with us.
TV Guide: What do you do during your downtime before shows?
Blake: Honestly, I do a lot of writing on the bus, actually. People go outside and I usually stay inside the bus and write music.
TV Guide: Chris Richardson said he wrote one of the tracks with you the other day.
Blake: Yeah. We wrote a song together. It's funky.
TV Guide: What does it sound like so far?
Blake: All my tracks on my album are totally different from each other. No track is going to be the same as the next one. I don't want to be put into a box. It's going to be pop music, but it's very inspired by the '80s. Prince, Michael Jackson, Depeche Mode. Good grooves and fun.
TV Guide: Will you beatbox again?
Blake: Oh yeah, of course! That goes without saying.
TV Guide: At the TV Guide photo shoot, you said that you were going to try to get some guests for the album. Are you still working on that?
Blake: Oh yeah, totally. I'm trying to get some hip-hop artists on there, some turntables. It's going to be a very eclectic album. I want to open people's minds about good pop music. There hasn't been a lot of good pop out there for a long time.
TV Guide: What artists have you approached so far?
Blake: I know that Doug E. [Fresh] and I are probably going to do a track. I'm trying to get my boy RA Scion of Common Market to do a track. I'm trying to get Black Thought and Charlie Tuna. I'm going to reach out and if they don't want to, that's cool. I'm just going to try to get some freestyle tracks that are completely organic and raw, true to the Fifth Element.
TV Guide: Your album is due out in December. Is it tough juggling recording and touring?
Blake: That's the only thing that's frustrating about it, that it has to be done so fast. But it'll be done when it's done. I'm not getting stressed out about it. I'm just writing as much as I can. If things come out good, then we'll make an album. If not, then, well, you know. It's the corporate world of pop music. [Laughs]
TV Guide: What's it like being on the road?
Blake: It's fun, you know? It's nice waking up in a new city every day and reaching out and signing some autographs.
TV Guide: Any funny moments with fans?
Blake: I call grandmas "ninjas" because they start grabbing you. It's funny coming off the show because people feel like they know you but they don't really know you at all. Yet they feel like they have the liberty to invade your space.
TV Guide: The grandmas grab you?
Blake: Oh, yeah. The grandmas are the craziest. But I love them! They'll pinch you and stuff. That's their job. They're so sweet. It's funny that it's the grandmas and not the younger population. I would think it'd be vice versa.
TV Guide: Have you had a favorite city you've visited so far?
Blake: I loved Chicago. That was fun. I love New York, so every time I'm here, I almost feel like I'm home. Seattle is kind of like a mini-New York. I like any town that has water around it, that's green. Pittsburgh was kind of gloomy, but I had fun there. I had fun in Iowa. I have fun on the days that I actually get to go out and experience a town.
TV Guide: Is there anywhere you got to do anything especially cool?
Blake: I played an improv show in Chicago, at Del Close. It was cool. I got to be the host and tell stories and stuff, and the improvers acted it out. I have a lot of friends who are comedians so I do a little improv, just character work. Besides music, that's pretty much my favorite thing.
TV Guide: Is that something else you want to pursue when the album is done?
Blake: Definitely. I do it all the time. I make rap videos and a lot of comedy video stuff, like digital-short kinds of things.
TV Guide: Did people know you were going to be at the improv show?
Blake: No, no one knew. My friend is the bartender at the place and he also did some improv stuff. But it was packed!
TV Guide: What kind of reaction did you get from the crowd?
Blake: I'm not the best storyteller, but I had a good response the whole time. It was all about the improvers acting out what I had said.
TV Guide: Did any of the other Idols come to watch?
Blake: No. Everyone went out to a bar and they performed with Gina's fiancé's band. If it was a little later, I would have gone, but it was at the exact same time.
TV Guide: Has anything surprised you about the tour so far?
Blake: I didn't know it was going to be so long. Seeing it on paper is one thing, but actually experiencing it — three and a half months on the road — it's a long time.
TV Guide: Do you think it's good experience for your eventual solo tour?
Blake: Definitely. My stuff will be smaller and more intimate, but it's good that I got to experience this. I don't take anything for granted because this could be the first and last time that this will ever happen in my life.
TV Guide: I doubt it will be your last.
Blake: [Laughs] Thanks.
TV Guide: There's been so much written about all of you. Do you ever read any of it online?
Blake: No. Honestly, it's funny you should ask because the first time I ever got on the computer and typed my name in was yesterday.
TV Guide: Really?
Blake: Yeah. I Googled myself.
TV Guide: What did you find?
Blake: It was just me making out with my friend on my birthday at Les Deux. It was funny. People make a big deal about it, but I was just kissing my friend good night. So now I guess I have a girlfriend. That's funny! I really don't feed into any media. I don't really watch television or listen to the radio. I definitely don't go online to find out stuff about me that's not true.
TV Guide: Do you ever get calls from your family and friends asking if rumors are true?
Blake: Yeah. One person will read something and I'm like, "Well, you're dumb for reading it."
TV Guide: It's only going to get worse.
Blake: I don't care. That's all Hollywood, and a little bit of New York, with the paparazzi. I laugh about it. I could pick my nose in public and eat my booger and I wouldn't care if it was on film.
TV Guide: I guess that's a good attitude to have about it. Do the paparazzi make you want to stay in Seattle, or do you think you'll eventually move to L.A.?
Blake: I'll stay in Seattle because I think it's beautiful. It's positive and clean and fresh. There's nothing really cool about California except it's sunny and there are a lot of beautiful girls around. That, and the fact that there's tons of great music there. But there's tons of great music in Seattle and that's where all of my family and friends are and all of the musicians I've ever played with for the last eight years. Maybe I'll spend winters in L.A., because it's nice and sunny, and then come back to Seattle. It really depends.
TV Guide: If you're on the road, I guess it really doesn't matter where you live, does it?
Blake: No. It doesn't.
TV Guide: How do you keep your momentum going during the tour?
Blake: My energy is the same every night. It totally depends on whether I go to sleep or not. So, yeah, I'm going to stay healthy.
TV Guide: What are you doing to take care of yourself?
Blake: I was eating pretty good and then I slipped for a while. I just try to eat healthy but it's easy to slip because we get force-fed fast food every night. There's crappy food where we go, but I try to eat salad and fish and chicken. That's about it.
TV Guide: No Pop-Tarts?
Blake: I've eaten one this whole time. I lived off them for like six years growing up, so that made me the man I am today! I owe my life to Pop-Tarts. [Laughs]
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