‘American Idol’: James Durbin Says, ‘Different Is The New Normal’

It’s ok. To all my fans, I LOVE you ALL! I’m Optimistic Prime! Time to get to work! Thank you for EVERYTHING! JDurbinAI10

That was what the departed “American Idol” contestant Tweeted to his fans this morning after his stunning elimination last night, but don’t feel sorry for the rocker with high-functioning autism, Aspergers and Tourette’s, who did it all for his family—fiancee Heidi (nine years his senior, Durbin’s known her since he was 4) and young son Hunter. In fact, he remembered that he first auditioned for the show because he couldn’t afford to buy diapers for their child. “I don’t think I’m ever going to have to worry about that now,” he laughed.

James’ message for his fans?

Expect the unexpected. Give metal a chance.

This Is Just The Start
“I’ve only just begun,” Durbin explains, comparing his experience on “Idol” to a roller coaster that is just now clicking up the steep incline of his career. “This is the starting point. I feel I’ve been given a special opportunity to run with it, to bring a voice to a new generation from an old generation. I’m just ecstatic and excited to see what happens with the finale and then, the tour, which is going to be amazing. I might have to get away from security, jump the guard rail and run into the crowd.”

He Was Shocked
Durbin admitted when his name was called, it was a shock. “I’m not going to lie. I definitely was. There was something off with the kinetic energy of everyone at thye studio yesterday. I just kinda felt it in people’s body language. There was a real somber feeling. I freaked out a little bit before the show started. I just knew it. I really did.

“It’s been a real whirlwind of emotions. I did this for my family and because I wanted to give voice to a genre of music that seems like it’s slowly fading away. I feel I accomplished a lot on the show.”

Fan Uproar
Last night’s results have prompted an online uproar over possible conspiracy theories or voting irregularities, but in the end, it could’ve just been a nationwide referendum on rock vs. country, which only reinforces Durbin’s point about the music’s waning appeal to the younger kids who dominate the “Idol” audience. Nevertheless, James had a devoted following.

“American Idol broke my heart tonight,” tweeted actress Abigail Breslin .

Different Is The New Normal
Still, James’ back story had wide appeal, losing his father when he was nine, overcoming the social awkwardness brought on by his condition, and the contradiction at his heart—a church-going believer at home playing what has often been termed the “devil’s music.”

“I’m different. I’m a freak,” says the fan of metal icons Ronnie James Dio, Ozzy, Marshall amps and Les Paul guitars. “Different is the new normal. If you’re not different, you’re not in”

He believes he went out on top with this week’s final two performances, “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Love Potion No. 9,” while ruefully noting the Journey song also marked the end for his pal, pro wrestler Chris Jericho, who performed to it before getting axed from Dancing with the Stars, as well as Tony Soprano.

“I really did what I wanted to do,” he said, acknowledging that, like former “Idol” contestant Chris Daughtry, his own fourth place elimination could actually help his cred with the rock audience.

“That makes sense, but winning would have been great, too,” he said. “First instinct when you’re up there and Ryan says you’re going home is, I’ve failed. But I haven’t failed at all. This is just the start for me. I’m really stoked about the future.”

A Bright And Loud Future
He cites Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy and Zakk Wylde, who played with him on “Idol,” as two possible collaborators on future projects, no to mention a guitarist friend back home with whom he wants to form a band.

“We want to bring back the great front man and his lead guitarist metal duo,” James explains. “Like Ozzy and Randy Rhoads, Dio and Iommi, Dio and Viv Campbell, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Steve Perry and Neal Schon, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. That’s the essence of rock and roll. That’s what gets people excited. We’re gonna force that music back on the airwaves because it seems to be dying out. And that just can’t happen. We have to find someway to get it back out there. We’re just going to take another door; another lane. I’m definitely real excited to collaborate with different songwriters and musicians. It’s just going to be totally awesome.”

As for the outcry from all his fans in cyberspace about last night’s elimination, James assures them, “It’s OK. I’m still standing.”

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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