David Cook is part of an exclusive club — one that comes with 30 million potential fans and alums such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
He’s an “American Idol” winner, and there are only seven others like him.
Cook — who performs a sold-out show Thursday night at Table Mountain Casino — has fared pretty well to this point in his post-“Idol” career.
His self-titled album sold more than a million copies, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard charts and producing the hit singles “Lights On” and “Come Back to Me.”
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Cook followed the album release with an ambitious touring schedule that’s had him and his band on the road since February.
We caught up with him on the phone before a recent concert in El Paso, Texas, and talked about “American Idol” pressures, his touring habits and what he’s got coming up next.
Question: “American Idol” winners seem to either do really well, or just fizzle away. Did you feel pressure to be more like Carrie Underwood and less like Taylor Hicks?
Answer: Yeah, but I think it was an internal pressure. I set the bar pretty high for myself. I want to be right up there with Carrie, people like her and Kelly and Daughtry. They’ve managed to make tremendous careers for themselves.
How important is it to forge your own identity outside of “Idol?” Do you think you’ve done a good job of it?
I think one of the things that makes “Idol” work is that people tune in to see growth. They don’t want to see a finished product. Coming out of there, I wanted to continue to progress and have them come along with me. I always look to progress.
Some “Idol” contestants have done well for themselves without actually winning the whole thing. Now that you’re a year detached, do you feel like being the ultimate winner made a big difference for you? Or would you have done just as well if you finished second?
I’m the last to know, really. Everybody that’s done well has come out with good records and had people in their corner pushing their record. They’ve come out and done the grunt work. That’s the angle we took.
You’ve been on the road pretty much all year. What’s tougher: Being on the road for nine months straight or winning “American Idol?”
I’d much rather be on the road. The “Idol” experience was great. It gave me a platform, but there is something a little unnerving about going on stage once a week and singing for your life in front of 30 million people.
What have you learned from being on the road all these months?
I’ve learned that I really like to travel. I thought I knew that I liked to travel, then I got on the road and I was like, “Oh man, am I really going to enjoy this?” But I love waking up in a new city every morning. I love having the new stimuli.
What do you do to pass the time on the road?
I’ve actually gotten into video games. I’m playing “MLB 2009.”
You came here on the “American Idol” tour, but Fresno hasn’t seen your solo show yet. How different is it and what should people expect?
Having more time to really put a set together, it allows us to take the audience from point A to point B. As a band we really pride ourselves on coming out, turning the guitars up and having a good time. It’s a few less bells and whistles than the “American Idol” tour.
During “Idol,” a lot was made about your “cougar” fans. Is that a reality? Who do you see in the crowd at shows?
Our audience is kind of a nice cross section — we get quite a few guys, we get some ladies, we get some kids. That’s cool. I like seeing that our music is being embraced by different types of people.
When can we expect a new album from you?
Is that the popular question right now?
It seems to be. We started writing for one. We just finished sound-checking a new song. We’ll see if we can add that in soon.
The goal is to get off this tour, analyze the last year and get working again. I’d guesstimate we’ll probably be in the studio in February or March, and get cracking on another one.
Do you get a nice vacation first?
I’ve got a little brother graduating college. So that’s going to be my vacation, and the holidays and stuff. I’ll probably just hole up and hang out with my dog.