'American Idol': Alex Preston on Original Music, Meeting Jason Mraz and Having Bronchitis
'American Idol': Alex Preston on Original Music, Meeting Jason Mraz and Having Bronchitis
Jeff Dodge
Jeff Dodge
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
He was once considered a frontrunner, but once Sam Woolf and Jessica Meuse were eliminated, the writing was on the wall for Alex Preston to be the next contestant sent home, one week before the finale.

Alex talked with reporters, including BuddyTV, about performing his original music, meeting Jason Mraz and Alex and Sierra, having bronchitis the same week as Caleb and his plans for the future. Also, how many instruments does Alex play? Read on to find out.

Not all titles featured on BuddyTV are available through Amazon Prime.



Original Music

Contestants were encouraged a lot more this season to perform original songs, the two most notable ones being Alex's "Fairytales" and Jessica's "Blue Eyed Lie." Alex was very appreciative of this opportunity to showcase his own music "because it was in front of millions of people and that's your own lyrics and composition that you're playing."

He went on to say, "I think that original music being allowed on a national television [show] such as American Idol is kind of awesome and pushes it to the next level because it starts to show the artistry in all of the singers and I think that's a good thing."

Making the Songs Your Own

Alex was one of the few contestants this season who really knew how to find a way to make songs his own when performing. So what is his process like? "Usually, when I hear the song, I think of how I would do it. And then I usually take an hour or so and just run through the song and run through alternate chord, chordal structures," he said. His next step is to "meet with my vocal and arrangement coaches, Tim and Antonio, and we spend quite a while on another arrangement that fits my style. But I think that's how I really had the most fun this season, is making those arrangements my own." 

How Many Instruments Does Alex Play?

If you didn't know yet, Alex plays more than just the guitar and drums. He actually plays about 12 instruments. And amazingly, he took a very minimal number of lessons. "I took maybe three or four guitar lessons in my life and maybe two or three vocal lessons, but that's about it."

When he was "really young," he did take violin and piano lessons, "and after that I just fell in love with learning new instruments and really writing songs on new instruments because I thought it brought a really interesting flavor just on writing with these different tones like mandolin, ukulele." He admitted that he loves "buying weird, exotic instruments and just messing around with them. It's one of my favorite things to do, probably."

For those of you who are attending one of the American Idol concerts this summer, expect Alex's versatility to come out. "I do want to pull out as many instruments as I can on tour," he said. 

Ryan Seacrest Signs on for 2 More Seasons of American Idol >>> 

Alex and Sierra, Jason Mraz and Jillian Jensen

There was one week during the live shows when The X Factor season 3 winners Alex and Sierra were in the audience to cheer Alex on. From there, we found out that they're friends with each other. And they actually met through Twitter. "[Alex and Sierra] messaged me on Twitter and said they dug my style and wanted to meet up, and then it kind of clicked from there," he said. "We hang out all the time now and go to the movies and hang out at their apartment and stuff. They're really good friends of mine -- and Caleb also, and Sam; we're all really tight with them."

Alex performed "Say Something" during Top 5 week when the songs were chosen by America. And coincidentally, Alex and Sierra performed the same song on The X Factor. I asked Alex if he knew that going into the performance or if he wasn't aware. "Before I had sang that, I didn't really know that they had sang it as well. But I looked it up on YouTube and they killed it. It's cool that we have such similar styles in music and taste in music." I hope the three of them work on a collaboration together for their debut albums.

It's been no secret that Alex is friends with Jason Mraz -- he even stopped by as a guest mentor one week. But how did the two actually meet? Through Alex and Sierra, of all people. "They introduced me to their friends Nancy and Michael Natter, and they actually wrote 'I Won't Give Up' and a bunch of other songs on Jason's new album. And so they called me up and invited me to go get coffee with Jason. It just sparked from there. Then he came on the show and now we're doing a duet in the finale, so it's a crazy chain of connections."

But Alex has another connection to The X Factor. Before his girlfriend, Jillian Jensen, tried out for season 13 of Idol, she was a contestant in season 2 of X Factor. The two met during Hollywood Week on Idol. Alex says that despite being on opposite sides of the country during the competition, "It works out because we're both musicians and we can always talk, Skype and she comes out to the shows a lot. ... It does suck because we can't see each other as much as we'd like to, but we're both in the same industry so we both understand."

Alex Had Bronchitis the Same Week as Caleb

At the start of the Top 3 performance show, Ryan Seacrest revealed that Caleb was suffering from bronchitis and also had a small vocal cord hemorrhage. But unless you follow Alex on Twitter, you might not have known that he also had bronchitis, though it was never mentioned on the air, which was Alex's decision.

"I just didn't want to say anything, really," he admitted. "I remember Harry during Hollywood Week was like, don't tell us you're sick because that'll just take our attention away from the performance and we'll focus on that."

"I wasn't as sick as Caleb, obviously, because he had the vocal hemorrhages and stuff, but I wasn't completely there. I didn't really want people to know during the performance," he said. "I could feel the strain in my voice, but I knew that that's what happens in this business and you've just got to push through it."

American Idol vs. The X Factor: Who Sang "Say Something" Better? >>>

Looking Ahead to the Future

Alex talked about performing his original music on the show earlier in the interview, but it was brought up again when asked about his future. He already has some of his songs on YouTube, and he wants to "release as much as I can," he said. And it sounds like he's already got specific plans for his album, saying, "I'm already starting to try to figure out a way to plan my record. And I have a couple of co-writes lined up that I do want to get on the album as well. ... I want to get something out there as quick as I can to take advantage of this wave of publicity that the show has given me."

Continuing on that thought, he said, "I am hoping to get in the studio and record an album, and definitely I want to write with as many artists as I can and songwriters that I can, and really start collaborating."

And while his plan for now is to just focus on his own music and career, he also wouldn't mind writing songs for others. "All I want to do for my main thing is definitely performing. I want to perform for the rest of my life, but I also on the side do want to do songwriting with other artists because that's so fun to collaborate with other artists. It's still a great way to express yourself and share different ideas with people who are doing the same thing as you."

Speaking of which, are there any collaborations on the horizon with his fellow Idol contestants? "[Sam and I are] already talking about it and hopefully we can do some stuff on tour as well. And a lot of people have been really, really pushing for us to get something out there together, so hopefully that works out. I'm sure we're going to collaborate."

But where will he call home while he lives out his dreams? "I do want to move to either Nashville or Los Angeles or maybe even New York City, but I'm not quite sure which one yet. I have some thinking to do." In the meantime, Alex will be hitting the road on the Idol tour this summer. 

News from our partners