It comes as no surprise that Casey James comes from a place called "Cool, Texas" because the easy-on-the-eyes bluesman was the epitome of cool during his American Idol exit interview. For a guy who was just eliminated from one of the biggest shows on television, there was a lot of easy laughter coming from Casey and not an ounce of ego.
Perhaps that's because Casey was never supposed to be a legitimate contender. He was introduced to us as a joke, one that the judges continued to harp on all season rather than focusing on his considerable musical talent. Sure, we met Casey shirtless, but what he should be remembered for is being one of the best musicians who has ever graced the Idol stage.
Here's what Casey had to say about starting Idol shirtless, staying humble and what's next for him.
Our introduction to you was shirtless. What would you say to a future contestant who might be asked to take their shirt off by a judge during auditions?
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"Who's to say that I would be here had I not done that? So I think if you feel like you can back yourself up and not be the guy who took his shirt off --' cause hopefully that's not what I am now -- then I would say do what you need to do to get the ball rolling. There's a possibility had I not done that that I might not have made it past that first round. It definitely wasn't something that I thought of, or even realized was gonna happen. But I'm so thankful that it did because, coming back, I really had that drive to knock it out of the park the first chance that I could. I think I did surprise the judges at that point. It obviously worked out."
Could you ever collaborate with Kara Dioguardi as a songwriter in the future?
"Sure. As far as I know, she's a pretty good writer. I'm not opposed to working with anyone that is good at what they do, so absolutely."Were you offended when Kara said that your core demographic was women and young girls? Do you think you're a bit more of a well-rounded artist than that?
"I would like to hope so! I [am] definitely not offended by someone -- that's her opinion, and I know nothing of demographics and my marketing skills are obviously poor, or I wouldn't have been doing the same bar gigs for 11 years so. I definitely don't take offense to it. But I definitely would also like to think that I have a few more people out there that like what I'm doing."You didn't have a TV for 20 years ... can you tell us why and how it affected you?
"When I was, I guess 7 or 8, lightning struck my mother's house and blew out the antennae on the TV and we just never got another one. I guess it wasn't that important to us. Growing up without it, I didn't see all the things that everyone else saw on the TV and thought was cool, or to do this or to do that, and fashion things, and hip things that were going on, so I guess it kinda led me to be my own person a little bit more and to do my own thing and I'm really glad that it worked out that way. It gives you more time to do other things."
How did you handle the demands of being on American Idol?
"Any situation in life that is difficult you just do what you can. That's what I did. It definitely is demanding, but the payoff is so -- even if it had been one-hundredth of the audience, the payoff would still be a million percent worth it. It's definitely taxing, but a lot of people work a lot harder than me for a lot less. You just got to keep in mind, stay thankful for the opportunity to be where you're at, and work as hard as you can and that's what I think everybody in the situation does."How do you keep humble?
"It's really easy. You keep in mind that if it wasn't you, it would be somebody else. It's very situational. I'm very honored and happy and proud of everything that I've accomplished, but, keeping in mind that this will die down and very soon there'll be the next person in my situation. I'm just looking forward to trying to keep the audience that I have. If I do that, then maybe you'll have to deflate my ego later on down the line, but right now it's really easy just to keep grounded, 'cause it is what it is."What was it like working with the mentors? Is there one moment or mentor that stands out?
"I think everyone's going to say the same thing. Harry Connick Jr. was amazing. All the mentors were really great. But when somebody takes the time to do the music...he brought his band, he wrote the scores, he wrote the music and composed everything. He even came into iTunes and stopped by and made sure we were OK there. He put a lot of time in. And that, to me, said a lot about who he is as a person and a musician. The whole situation in general stands out to me and says, 'This is special.' It was a lot of actual real time that was spent, and not just camera time -- like actual time when I could sit down with him and say, 'Hey, what do you think about this, what do you think about that' and get his actual honest opinion. That to me is advice. That's the most wisdom you can gain from somebody... sitting down and really talking to them."When you think about your recent hometown visit, is there one moment that stands out as the most special?
"The whole trip was so amazing, I just remember looking around and being at home and feeling really good, but I think there was definitely a moment. I was at the Keyes playing with some guys that I used to play with a lot onstage doing the real band thing and a good friend of mine, Mace Mavin, who used to play a lot in the Dallas/Fort Worth area -- he's got cancer and he found out right before I left for the show and he is doing his best to kick that cancer's butt and he was there. I know how sick he is and weak and everything, but he made the trip to see me. That was just overwhelming, it was really overwhelming. I'm sitting there doing what I love to do and he was there and all my friends and family are there and the place is packed -- that moment was very intense for me."Were you prepared to be eliminated? Did you and Crystal and Lee discuss the elimination before Wednesday night?
"I've been prepared at every single round from the beginning of the show. Because you never know what will be will be -- you have to be prepared either way. Every single time that I made it through obviously you're elated and happy. The other night when I didn't, I kinda knew that was coming. I was more than prepared that night. Nobody, as far as having conversations, nobody talks about things, as far as that goes. I think everybody understands anything could happen and nobody really wants to talk about it. As far as that goes, really nothing was said. [I'm] obviously happy for them and I think that everything happens for a reason and I'm exactly where I should be and I have no doubt of that, and I'm super happy to be here."What are the strengths of the final two?
"They both have very unique and standout sounds. That pretty much says it. You can't say anything else other than that -- they are who they are and that's why people are voting for them. So I just think that's going to continue and it's gonna grow and I think it's going to be a crazy, crazy good show."
Are you happy with where you placed?
"I'm the kind of guy that accepts what happens and is always happy about it. Had I gotten second or first obviously I'd be happy, but I can tell you that I'm definitely happy with where I landed. I continue to say it, but it always remains to be true is that everything always happens for a reason and you just have to roll with it and be happy. And I certainly am. I'm elated to have landed here. And I'm going to make the most of it."What's next for Casey?
"Next is a record, and going and doing music. It's time to get started. The reason for the show is to allow us to do music and that's what I intend on doing. That's what I love, and now I have the opportunity to do it. It's go time."
(Image courtesy of FOX)