American Idol alumni often struggle with their second album. The individual artists often appease the record studios with their debut work, making as commercial an album as possible to quickly cash in on the sometimes fleeting fame that accompanies their involvement with American Idol. Bo Bice released his first album to commercial success. When it came to create his second album, Bo chose to make something more personal, something that may not be as commercially feasible as his first. The result is the recently released “See the Light.” Bo stopped by not long ago to discuss his second album.
Below you will find both the written transcript and full mp3 audio the interview.
So, you’ve got a new album that just came out called “See The Light.” Can you just talk a little bit about that and the process that went into creating that album?
“See The Light” is really something I’ve been working on for over a decade, some of these songs. This song “Witness” on there has been a song in my library for about a decade, making changes. “Whiskey, Women & Time” is the same thing. Even the song “Sinner In A Sin” has been a little while in there. It was nice to be able to put some of those older songs on there, and then also work with people that are friends of mine from back in that era. Gary Nichols, Chris Tompkins, and Dan Hardin, they’re just good friends of mine. Then I have some new friends in here like Thomas Lee, who is my keyboard player, and we wrote a couple of tunes together. I think if I could sum the CD up in a general statement it’s just good ’70s southern rock, and a lot of good friends just having a great time playing music.
What was different about the process, creating this album compared to your first? It sounds like it was more you, more personal.
Well, one of the things that was a lot different this time around is just the patience on things. Obviously not having somebody breathing over my shoulder telling me what they think sounds good. I produced this CD with Frank Liddell, and we had Steve Gorman from The Black Crowes and Glenn Worff playing on it. It was really just a laid back kind of concept with the whole vibe. I wanted it to come across that when you put the little silver disc in the CD player that it turns it into an album, and your CD player turns into a record player. It takes you back to the ’70s. I felt like we did pretty good at covering that base. Also the fact that I started my own record label, SugarMoney, and built my own recording studio, Rock Hound Studios, so we did a lot of the work here. This was released under SugarMoney and my [blank] label StratArt, so it’s really just a lot more hands on. Some people might call me kind of a control freak, but there’s nobody that takes better care of your business than you, and knows you better than you. Really I feel like the biggest portion of this entire project is being able to spread my wings and fly, and not being held back by trying to make it pop, or trying to make it sound like this or that. Some people might think I shot myself in the foot by putting out this southern rock album. I’ve been told that nobody’s jumping on the southern rock train right now, but I’ve been listening to ’70s rock and southern rock my entire life, and I can tell you I still love it. For me, that was one of the best things, that I didn’t have to compromise by going and trying to do the pop thing again.
That’s one of the things that a lot of former American Idol people seem to struggle with. Do you do the commercial thing that those management guys are so good at, that they can sell, or do you do what you want to do? Is that something you had to decide early on in the process, or did you ever think about maybe doing another commercial album?
To be honest with you, it wasn’t my idea to do a commercial album the first time. I sent a lot of these songs to Clive Davis, but they just didn’t make the album. That album was put together before I got there, and I was grateful to have that opportunity to do that. When I left there, I think some people looked at me as a little bit stubborn, when really I thought I was just giving people what they knew of me from Idol. As weird as it sounds, I still talk highly of Idol. I appreciate Simon Fuller, and the people there that have everything to do with it. Some people look at me and say you’re the guy that I would think would’ve ran as fast as he can, but people got a lot better interpretation about what Bo Bice was from my Idol performances than they probably did off of the last CD. For me it was a no brainer. I did it this way, I went gold on the last album, and we might be 500,000 from platinum, but we got pretty good sales on that album. I was able to spread out on my own after that, and then it was a no brainer. I’m gonna give these people some southern rock, and what they know Bo for. For commercial use, there’s not a lot of people out there that do go out there and jam to southern rock right now, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to win those people over and make them fans of that type of music. Without people like Skynyrd, Allmans, Little Feat, and all these other bands, I wouldn’t have a gig. In a way I’m just kind of a transportation unit between generations to carry on the love of that music. I’m not gonna sell out my soul for what I love.
Do you have any plans for touring any time soon?
Well, hopefully we’re going to be doing some touring around the first of the year. We’re really dedicated to getting this album out, spreading the word on it. I spend a lot of time on my website, BoBice.com, checking in with fans. I’m a huge race fan so I go and do things around that [blank] to music I guess. I’m looking forward to getting back out on the road, and being able to get in touch with the fans again. That’s the main thing that I love to do. Again, it’s not like last year out on the road trying to pick the four favorite songs I like off an album and playing them. I get to play the whole album this time. It’s a nice position to be in, and I’m not too worried about if we sell a trillion units or 5 in Thailand. I’m here to rock and roll. Hopefully people will give us the chance and look past the AI logo, and look past “The Real Thing” pop album, and see that I’m just a southern kid that’s out here trying to make a living doing what he loves to do, and pass the love of southern rock along.
-Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl
(Image Courtesy of StratArt)