'American Idol' Finalist JAMES DURBIN: How I Discovered Heavy Metal

October 26, 2011

"American Idol" finalist James Durbin will release his hard rock and melodic-metal influenced debut solo album, "Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster", on November 21 via Wind-Up.

"I just remember being a kid, driving around with my mom, and then DIO's 'Holy Diver' came on the radio and it changed everything," Durbin tells AOL's Noisecreep. "It was the first time I had ever heard a metal song. I loved it right away. From there I just wanted to learn as much about music as I could. Eventually I found the artists that I liked more and stuck with those. I'm talking about IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, DIO, MTLEY CRE you know, the classics," says the singer.

"I've always showed an interest for music of all kinds, so they might have thought that the metal thing was just a phase [laughs]. When I was a teenager I even started a metal band called LEVIATHAN. I've always wanted to be a professional musician. Look, metal isn't the kind of music my mom would listen to, but she's always been supportive nonetheless."

"I learned so much from listening to STEELHEART. They were a band that just missed the hair scene of the '80s and merged the thrash look with a glam sound. STEELHEART's singer is a guy named Michael Matijevic and man, can he fucking wail! I would watch all of their videos on YouTube and listen to their records and try and hit the notes he was nailing. I always wanted to see how far I could take my voice and listening to that band helped me out a lot. Michael actually did some of the vocals for the Mark Wahlberg movie 'Rock Star'. That's how I first discovered him."

Unforgettable performances on the "Idol" stage with legends such as JUDAS PRIEST and Zakk Wylde led Durbin's own "Idols" to support the rocker's first-ever release, including Mick Mars of MTLEY CRE, songwriters James Michael (SIXX: A.M., MTLEY CRE) and Marti Frederiksen (AEROSMITH, BUCKCHERRY, OZZY OSBOURNE),along with Swedish rock band HARDCORE SUPERSTAR. Durbin, who co-wrote five of the albums tracks exclaimed it was "surreal" to be working with this bevy of rock royalty and recalls, "When Mick Mars started shredding on his guitar I literally lost my mind." The long-time MTLEY CRE fan continued saying, "He's a true rock legend and he's playing on my record. It doesn't get any cooler than that." Mick Mars echoed the same fervor, "It was sick to have played on James' debut album. To be the only featured guest artist on the record was really cool as I know a lot of others wanted to be on it. James Durbin kicks ass; he's the real deal."

22-year-old Durbin was guided throughout the making of "Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster" by leading rock producer, Howard Benson. Benson (MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, DAUGHTRY, MOTRHEAD) gives Durbin room to evolve musically on the hard-hitting album, saying the opportunity to work with Durbin was "pretty simple: I loved his voice. I think he has a compelling story to tell." Benson, who kept his eye on Durbin throughout 'Idol' thought, "It was interesting that he spoke his mind and didn't back down from who he was. That's always a good sign."

"Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster" track listing:

01. Higher Than Heaven
02. All I Want
03. Love In Ruins
05. Right Behind You
06. Love Me Bad
07. Deeper
08. May
09. Screaming
10. Outcast - feat. Mick Mars
11. Everything Burns
12. Stand Up

In a recent interview with SoundSpike, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford called Durbin "brilliant. Absolutely sensational." He added, "The first we heard about James and the connection with PRIEST was when he covered our song 'You've Got Another Thing Comin''. We were really excited to hear that was taking place. As we kind of followed his growth through the last season of 'Idol' and listening to him speak, it became clear he was a champion for heavy metal music.

"I can recall, right from these early weeks, thinking, 'If this guy gets to where we hope he's going to get, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if something comes our way, in terms of do we want to get involved.' When the call came, we weren't 100 percent surprised. We were absolutely delighted. We dropped everything to fly to Los Angeles and then fly back to London, all within the space of a couple days. It was a great moment for James and, more importantly, it was a great moment for heavy metal music because it was suddenly in the arms of 30-odd-million-plus households throughout the USA. And then, of course, it bounced around the rest of the world afterward. Everything that we've done in those types of appearances for us has been not only for PRIEST but championing the cause of heavy metal music."

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