With some “American Idol” finalists, it’s hard not to get the feeling they just wanted to sing and be on TV. For them, actually recording music is just an afterthought. But last season’s runner-up Blake Lewis is not that kind of “Idol.”
When it came time to start making his debut album, the Washington-born beatbox virtuoso came to the table with CDs and notebooks full of ideas and a title he’d had in mind for years, “Audio Day Dream.”
“I had discs that I made like four years ago that said ‘Audio Day Dream sampler’ on them,” says Lewis whose infectious debut single, “Break Anotha” is currently climbing the charts. “So when I met with (19 Entertainment CEO) Simon Fuller and (BMG Label Group Chairman) Clive Davis, I came prepared. I had the whole idea laid out and I sold myself, like, ‘This is what I want to do and I hope you like it,’ and they did.”
Lewis is hopeful that his fans will as well. “This is a new game for me,” admits the 26-year-old singer, whose collaborators on “Audio Day Dream” include OneRepublic singer and red-hot producer Ryan Tedder and Lewis’ “Idol” compatriot Chris Richardson. “I’m used to playing at my local club down the street and now I’m going to be on the radio that I haven’t listened to in years. It’s crazy.”
Dennis Hensley: At the risk of sounding like a stalker, I stood behind you in line at my local taco stand, Paquito Mas, in North Hollywood like a month ago. You bought lunch for the guys you were with. I was impressed.
Blake Lewis: My band, yeah, of course. My homies. It’s all about family love.
Hensley: You all seemed excited about what you were working on.
Lewis: Oh man, I can’t wait to open that CD package for the first time. I always dreamed about working with musicians and producers that I love and it’s coming to fruition with this project.
Hensley: You’ve described your CD as a modern take on an ’80s–era mix tape. Do you make and give mix tapes to people?
Lewis: I used to be the king of the mix tape. I’ve made some compilations for ladies I was in relationships with but I haven’t gotten a lot in return, maybe one or two.
Hensley: Do you still listen to them after the relationship is over?
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Lewis: Not for a while. When it’s a key song from a relationship, you’re just like, “I can’t hear that song right now… if I hear that song one more time…” You gotta wait.
Hensley: Do you have a favorite song on “Audio Day Dream”?
Lewis: The ballad “How Many Words.” It’s about the last relationship I was in. If you’ve ever had trouble being in a relationship, then getting out of it and getting back into it, you can relate. Man, I couldn’t stop. I went back like 10 times.
Hensley: Do you have much time for a romantic life these days?
Lewis: I’ve definitely gone out and had some fun but it’s hard to commit to someone because I’m really committed to my career right now.
Hensley: All my 40-something lady friends were obsessed with you on “Idol.” Did you get propositioned by a lot of cougars?
Lewis: I got a little bit of that, some cougars definitely, some MILFs. I love older women so it was fantastic.
Hensley: What’s the oddest thing a fan threw onstage at you?
Lewis: I finally got my first pair of panties and they were huge gigantic grandma panties. It was awesome. I don’t know where they ended up. I think we threw them around on the tour bus that night.
Hensley: What was your favorite Blake Lewis sign from “American Idol”?
Lewis: I love the outrageous ones the most, because they’re just hilarious, like “Blake Can Beat My Box” and “I Wanna See Blake’s Snake” with a huge picture of a boa. I have a picture of that one.
Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings
Hensley:Speaking of pictures, there’s a photo of you with Tom Cruise on your MySpace page. Are you two buds now?
Lewis: That was at Rupert Murdoch’s house at the after party for “Idol Gives Back.” We were there for like a half hour maybe and I was like, “Wow, Maverick’s here (from ‘Top Gun’). I gotta take a picture.”
Hensley: Does your talent for beatboxing ever come in handy in non-musical situations?
Lewis: I just make noise all the time, like during “Idol,” we went to the “Price is Right” set and we were walking by the huge wheel and I spun it and I started doing the noise. And when it slowed down, I slowed down. Everyone freaked out because they thought it was turned on, which it wasn’t. That was pretty fun.
Hensley: You also have a background in comedy. Would you ever want to be on “Saturday Night Live”?
Lewis: Oh God, yes. It’s probably my favorite television show of all time. Comedy’s a big part of who I am. I’ve got some stuff that’s going to come out soon on FunnyorDie.com. I have a fun time creating anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. I love entertaining people and I hope I do that till the day I die.
Dennis Hensley is a co-host of the radio show Twist and the author of the novels “Misadventures in the (213)” and “Screening Party.” www.dennishensley.com
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