Taylor Hicks: The TV Squad Interview

by Jay Black, posted Dec 12th 2006 11:15AM
taylor hicksThere's probably no fame-train that moves quicker than the one you board when you get on American Idol. In as little as five months, you go from struggling young artist to one of the most famous human beings in America. I can imagine it being overwhelming (I mean after all, in just under a month I went from unknown comedian to internationally famous TV Squad blogger, and the literally tens of emails I've received since then have swamped my inbox). To get into the finals, much less actually win the contest, must make for a difficult transition into the world of celebrity.

Even harder than that is maintaining the momentum. For every Kelly Clarkson there's a Reuben Studdard, and there's a kind of second contest after the winner is crowned to see what he or she does with his or her newfound fame.

It's with this is mind, I'm sure, that the latest winner of American Idol, Taylor Hicks, is releasing his first album. It's called Taylor Hicks and it's dropping just in time for the holidays (and, one imagines, the never ending string of American Idol promos that run during said holidays). He was gracious enough to sit for a telephone interview with me to talk about the new album, his recent comments concerning the show, and the worst pre-Idol gig he ever had.

Me: Has it been a long day for you?

Taylor : Try a long year.

Me: Really... just a lot of publicity?

Taylor : You know... publicity is good... I'll take it any day of the week.

Me: I hear you, but do you get tired of it? Are you tired of all these interviews? You know, having to make nice all the time?

Taylor : Um, yeah. I mean, a little bit, you know... Just some of the questions, you know... some of the questions... just stay the same.

Me: Let me ask you this, this'll be my first question to you: What's the dumbest question that you've heard again and again and again? What's the question that you don't want to hear anymore?

Taylor : That's a question that I like to hear. The question that I'm tired of hearing is "What was going through your mind when you won?"

Me: Well then I'll have to cross that one off my list!

(no laughter, slight pause)

Me: I read that you're a big Billy Joel fan. What's your favorite obscure Billy Joel Song?

Taylor : Have you ever heard of a song called "Goodnight Saigon"?

Me: I know "Goodnight Saigon", off The Nylon Curtain... absolutely.

Taylor : Yeah, I'm gonna say that one.

Me: (me trying desperately to sound cool and connect with Taylor) Great song... it's a great concert song too. (Awful transition by me) Here's the big question, I'm sure you've been getting a lot of this... you gonna watch [American Idol] this year?

Taylor : (somewhat annoyed) Of course I'm gonna watch this year... why would I not watch this year?

Me: I've seen some interviews where it implied that you wouldn't be watching this year.

Taylor : I'm watching.

Me: Okay. Here's a question for you as this is for TV Squad, so it's TV oriented. If you talk to the producers about changing something on American Idol, what would you change?

Taylor : I would like more time with the songs towards the end...More time for the artists to sing more of the song.

Me: So instead of in the last episode, doing three songs of one minute a piece, like one or two full songs.

Taylor : Right.

Me: Here's another question from a TV perspective. Is there a lot of manipulation that goes on with the video? Is there a lot that you see on the video where you say, "Well that's not the way it happened!" Is there anything that you'd like to say didn't happen the way it seemed like it did on TV?

Taylor : No, the producers, Nigel (Lythgoe) and Ken (Warwick), they're... everything went really smoothly. And the show is just... I mean it's produced impeccably. I mean... it's a great TV show.

Me: So there are no moments where you're watching it going, "Aw, no, that stinks..."

Taylor: Probably when I kicked... when I missed the mic stand, I thought that was a pretty good... let me say this... when you do something wrong, you want to change it...but it's live television, so you can't.

Me: Sure, I hear you. Now, I asked a high school student if they could ask Taylor Hicks one thing, what would it be, and this is what they wanted to know: "Were there any secret backstage affairs on the show"?

Taylor : No. I wish there were, but no.

Me: What's one thing that we don't get to see in the course of the show that you, especially as a musician, wish we could see on the show? What's something that we don't get to see week to week that you think would be a good addition to the show?

Taylor : I just think some of the car rides with everybody would be cool.

Me: Like what do you mean you all travel in one car together?

Taylor : We start talking and laughing and I mean that would probably be cool.

Me: The first season seemed to have a lot of that, where they would put all the contestants in a house and we kind of lost that aspect of the show as time went on...

(awkward pause)

Me: A lot of times on the show, Simon will say that all you guys will pretend to be friends but in reality you're in competition with one another and you just really want to see each other fail no matter how much you say you're rooting for the other person. How much of that is true? Because I've been in competitions before and you always kind of root for the other person to fail a little bit, don't you?

Taylor : Um, you know, competition definitely plays a part in it, but at the end of the day... may the best man (or woman) win...

Me: So, you didn't secretly hate Katharine McPhee?

Taylor : Not at all.

Me: Cause I secretly hated her. I was rooting for you.

Taylor : Well thank you.

(Here I laugh and Taylor does not)

Me: You did a lot of gigging before American Idol. I mean, you were a road act before you got onto the show, right?

Taylor : I was the gigger.

Me: So I imagine you have some good road stories. Like, what was your worst road gig?

Taylor : Probably when I thought that like all of my gear fell out of my car. I got out on the interstate and was looking in a field next to me and realized that I left it at the bar and it was sitting right at the bar where I left it. I thought it fell out of my truck.

Me: That's some good people at that bar that they didn't steal any of your equipment.

Taylor : Yeah, I went back hurriedly when I figured out I left my guitar back at the bar.

Me: That's very nice that they didn't steal it. I've worked a lot of places where they would have stolen it and then beaten you when you got back there.

(no laughter)

Me: Of the contestants that you worked with, it seemed like a lot of them didn't have the same amount of experience you did... I think it probably helped you, all your experience on the road in front of live audiences. Of all the people that you worked with, who do you think could handle a rough and tumble biker bar? Other than you, obviously, who could tame a wild crowd?

Taylor : (long pause) Bucky Covington.

Me: Why him?

Taylor : I think he might have played in front of them.

Me: So he has the history of it.

Taylor : (sounding disinterested) Maybe so.

(It should be noted that at this point I want to punch myself in the face.)

Me: Alright, so a couple of questions about the new album. How much control did you have on the new album?

Taylor : First of all, I got to choose what songs I wanted to sing.

Me: That's nice.

Taylor : I made sure I didn't sing any songs on it that I didn't want to sing.

Me: Like... "Do I Make You Proud?"

Taylor : Uhhhhhhhhhh...

(I laugh, Taylor doesn't)

Taylor : Maybe.

Me: I've seen some of the press on that. You were not a big fan of that song, right?

Taylor : You know, that was a... you know, what I was referring to... the first song that I walked out on was a completely different song. It was "Do I Make You Proud" that I actually connected with.

Me: Ahh, okay.

Taylor : So that was a completely different song [that the press was writing about]. It's another one of those "slant" things if you will. I was given a song... at first, which was not "Do I Make You Proud"...

Me: What you're saying is that you did walk out on a song, originally, but it wasn't "Do I Make You Proud" it was the song before "Do I make you proud."

Taylor : Exactly.

Me: People take the juicy story and run with it. That's gotta suck, huh? People changing your words like that?

Taylor : Not at all.

Me: (Confused) I'm assuming you're joking.

Taylor : Very much so.

Me: What are some of your favorite cuts from the new album? What's going to be the single?

Taylor : Uh, we don't know yet. We're gonna let the record research itself. But I'd have to say, you know, some of my favorites are "Heaven Knows", "The Right Place" and "The Runaround".

Me: Now, did you write these?

Taylor : These three just came to me from great writers and they were great songs.

Me: How much input do the American Idol people have on the album?

Taylor : This is a label thing now. American Idol, Season Five, "The Show" is over. This is into a label aspect now. It's Arista Records, J, and I are the one's that work together. So... like, with any artist, that's the way we work together.

Me: So there's no difference now between you and any other artist on the label?

Taylor : Not at all. Which is a good thing [for people] to know.

(Taylor 's publicist politely interrupts and says that we need to end the interview)

Me: Thanks for your time, Taylor .

Taylor: No problem, Man.

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Gail Chapman Erics Mom

Hello Taylor

My name is Gail and my son looks so much like you its unreal.

Not sure if you are getting my comments. So sorry if you are getting a repeat.

My sons name is Eric and he tried out in Seattle. Not sure of what they well show but looking forward to seeing him Singing.

He is such a hard worker and has taken his Talent to the next level

Give us a call if you come to Seattle we are a family of Artists and do Hair. Take Care Erics mom Gail

January 16 2007 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gail Chapman Erics Mom

My name is Gail and my son tried out in Seattle. His name is Eric and he looks so much like you its unreal.

He was sitting in the front roll a the Tacoma Dome. And went on to try out for American Idol. Oh by the way the Hair is real and he is a Hair Artist.

Welcome to the family of the Chapmans. Take care Eric's mom Gail

January 16 2007 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That was awesome! I love your sense of humor. I met Taylor on one of those "off" days that you seemed to have experienced. I know it is kindof a let down, and rather awkward. chin up, you did a great job!

January 03 2007 at 2:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First off I would like to say I have never met Taylor Hicks, but every single person I have talked to who has has said how shy but sweet he was. Sonny, reffering to your comment about how "these people are the ones who made him" HE DOES NOT OWE ANYBODY ANYTHING. NOTHING. So we vote for him on a TV show and he wins, that is him. He is the reason he won, not us. He won because he has talent. He has been a struggling musician for almost 10 years and I think he knows what hes doing. As far as this interview, how many interviews do you think hes done?? Probobly more then he wants to. But again, he owes nobody anything. All he wanted by winning American Idol was to get his music out there and get his voice heard. Once again (and I hope I have made this clear) he does not owe anybody anything, just because we voted for him, we did not 'make' him, he made himself, through preforming in bars for 10 years and through his singing. Personaly, I think he is a fantastic musician, never have I heard anyone with so much soul. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC, NOTHING ELSE.

January 03 2007 at 1:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sounds like Taylor is making sure his comments aren't taken out of context again just so another reporter can make a headline. Smart move on his part. I would have to say Runaround is not the best song on the CD. I like at least 4 of the others more than Runaround. "The Right Place" is the one that is my favorite and this CD will be in my music collection as long as I'm alive. And what does "did any backstage affairs happen" have to do with his CD. He's more polite than I think I could be. I want to hear answers to questions about his music not who had an affair.

January 02 2007 at 7:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've met Taylor a few times and each time he was very charming, yet shy, and extremely accomodating to all his fans!!! Poor guy is probably tired of some of the LAME interviews (like this one) he has to suffer through. He is an extremely talented musician. He does very well when interviewed in a professional manner.
His CD is awesome. It's very rare that every track on the CD is great.
I find it impossible to believe that he would ignore ANY fan on purpose as one of the posters stated. He is gratefull to all his fans, regardless of shape, weight etc.
Maybe the guy who said this is jealous because his "so-called" pretty friend was more interested in Taylor than him. Who knows???
Bash Taylor all you want, but he will always have a tremendous fan base and will continue to have a wonderfull career despite the bashers and silly interviewers he has to deal with.

January 02 2007 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stacy Brown

I think Taylor Hicks has personality to spare. I met him and he's quite personable, while just a bit shy. I can't blame the guy...he's been living under a microscope for the past 8 months or so. Give him a break. Let him digest the newfound fame and enjoy it without all the judging and bashing. As for the CD, it's amazing and every song on it showcases his tremendous vocal range. He catered to a variety of genres, but stayed true to his vision. His musical abiltities are limitless, and his star is just beginning to rise. He has a lifelong fan in me, whatever he chooses to do. As long as he's happy, I'm right behind him cheering him on.

December 20 2006 at 1:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This Hick already sounds so full of himself. Nice try with the interview, but apparently he's too good to share a laugh or a smile with you. I have met him a few times since he won the show during some of his many appearances here in NYC and he is NOT as humble and modest as he appeared on the show. Apparently, it was all an act just to get votes. He behaves as if this career is owed to him ... Why? Cause he's been a struggling musician for so many years? Yea well, join the club brother. Who does he think he is anyway? I have a friend who WAS just crazy for him and dragged me and another friend to every appearance he made in NYC and he Never even looked at her once. But he sure kept looking at my other girlfriend & asked her a bunch of questions, etc. But totally ignored my other friend. Yes, she is a bit overweight, but that is no reason for him to ignore her while she's speaking or act like he doesn't hear her so that he doesn't have to give her his autograph and God forbid get stuck talking to her. She was just a fan, she didn't want to marry his gray headed old looking azz. He's so uncoordinated & awkward in person. George Clooney? He wishes. He is Not so good looking in person, has no lips and Really does look like Jay Leno. His attitude is SUCH a turn off!!!
How would YOU feel if you met your 'Idol', whoever it may be, from an actor to a musician and have him/her behave rudely and ignoring you cause you were fat, ugly or whatever? These are the people who MADE him and put him in the position he is in now. Now he has a bunch of ex-fans who WON'T be buying his CD because A) His 'I'm all that' attitude and B) The CD Sucks. One friend of mine bought his CD, listened to it and then returned it cause it was so bad. When she said it was that bad, I had to give it a listen before she returned it and Man was she right. "The Runaround" is the Only good song, which is why it's probably the SAME SONG he's played on EVERY Talk show he's been on. To suck you into thinking the rest of the CD is that good, when in fact, he doesn't even play the harmonica on that song on the CD. It's a bunch of badly written songs that are performed even worse by him (dude can't hold a note, he's just a talking singer), old songs that we've all heard him do before and Really really bad versions of cover songs. He totally butchers a classic Paul Pena song even worse or maybe equal to the mess he made out of Elvis' 'In the ghetto' on the show. Him and his big azz ego and attitude...What a turn off!! Go back to Alabama ya Big awkward snotty brat! You can sit on the sofa & relive your 15 minutes. Now, I wish Elliott would have won, he's the only one who looks like he honestly would have stayed true to himself. Not that winning this show means anything anymore. I think 8 out of the top 10 all got record deals. So what the hell is the point in winning anymore anyway? Why waste time voting to help other people's dreams come true just so that they could ALL get record deals? Ridiculous!
Hicks' Scores:
As a Person & Attitude Score: F-.
CD Score: F

December 20 2006 at 12:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
patti costello

Jay, American Idol always makes me want to punch myself in the face. Interestingly enough The Bush's seemed to thouroughly enjoy this performer on their White House Christmas Special. Somehow that is important.

December 17 2006 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great interview. Very insightful and well researched. I also enjoyed the insertions concerning his reactions. Now I'm wondering why more writers don't do that. It adds a lot of texture to the interview!

December 12 2006 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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