Being a rock singer, particularly a hard rock singer, transitioning from the "American Idol" bubble to the real rock 'n' roll world is no easy feat, since rock purists tend to turn up their pierced noses at what they consider to be just some fluffy, credibility-killing karaoke show. James Durbin, arguably "Idol's" first full-fledged, full-throttle metalhead, definitely made major inroads during his thrilling Season 10 run, covering the Heavy Metal cult movie theme, performing with Zakk Wylde and Judas Priest, and nearly setting the stage (and himself) ablaze with all his KISS-worthy pyro. But he is still challenged in an age when radio is sadly dominated by ProTooled pop, and when metal has practically gone underground. However, with his surprisingly solid debut album, Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster, James just might get all of America to "give metal a chance." He just may be the one to bring back that sense of hair-flipping, fist-pumping, beer-swilling, Bic-flicking FUN that's been missing from the scene for far too long.
James's debut LP
James's album is being released by Wind-Up Records (home to Evanescence, Seether, and Finger Eleven), for starters, and its impressive list of collaborators includes Evanescence founder Ben Moody, the Go-Gos' Charlotte Caffey, Redd Kross's Steven McDonald, That Dog's Anna Waronker, James's favorite band Hardcore Superstar...and MICK MARS (yes, of Motley Crue). MOABD also features contributions from two of reality TV's more respected rockers, "Idol's" David Cook and "Rock Star: Supernova's" Ryan Star, and drumming from wunderkind Josh Freese (The Vandals, A Perfect Circle, Devo, Weezer, GNR, NIN, Daughtry, Paramore). Not too shabby, then. And pretty damn rawkin'.
Durbin flies the flag for metal
The bottom line is, MOABD doesrock. The opening track, "Higher Than Heaven," is a soaring stadium anthem; "Love In Ruins," written by aforementioned powerpop maestros Caffey, McDonald, and Waronker, is a classic Aerosmithian power ballad; "Right Behind You" is a chiming epic that'd sound right at home on any My Chemical Romance or Thirty Seconds To Mars album; and the Hardcore Superstar co-write, "Outcast," is a balls-to-the-walls blitzkrieg of unabashedly throwback hair-metallic raucousness, with some instantly recognizable shredding from the one and only Mr. Mars. This is not an "American Idol" record. This is a rock record, plain and simple, and I think it's going to surprise a lot of naysayers.
I recently got to talk with James over at 19 Entertainment's office about his album, and while he was understandably distracted by the endless loop of VH1 Classic videos playing in the room, it was still a very entertaining (and dare I say rockin') chat, covering everything from working Mick Mars to how Ronnie James Dio changed his life to how he feels about his equally ardent fans and haters. James also revealed a little detail about his "Idol" iTunes numbers that indicate sales for MOABD may be quite robust...