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"Idol" Conversation: Scott MacIntyre

By admin Published: August 26, 2009

Fifth and last of the chats I had with "American Idol" performers when the tour came to Cleveland on Sunday. See previous posts for Adam Lambert, Michael Sarver, Allison Iraheta and Anoop Desai, as well as an overview of the press event.

The interview with Scott MacIntyre almost did not happen. Everyone else was done, the other reporters had left, a meet-and-greet between fans and the entire cast was about to start. I was given the option of skipping Scott, with no offense taken. But, since I was there and had talked to the other four, I thought it was only polite to talk to Scott as well. And he was an avid talker; the interview wasn't that long, but longer than any of the other four. In fact, he was cut off (not by me) as he was about to answer a question -- because everyone had to get ready for the meet-and-greet. And if the interview seems a little rambling or disconnected on both sides, keep in mind that he and I had both done four previous interviews in short order.

Anyway, when I interviewed Danny Gokey, he mentioned what a great relationship Scott had with his brother Todd, who was helping Scott along on the tour. In Cleveland, Scott's brother had taken a break, and a friend was helping Scott. But I started by recalling what Danny had said about Scott and Todd.

It's really amazing. I'm probably the one that misses (Todd) the least. That's a joke, actually. We all miss him. I have a great relationship with my brother. I miss him so much already, and it's only been two days, you know. The comment every time we get on the bus [is] 'I wish Todd was here.' Danny and Matt, you know, we really all clicked very well.

So how has the tour been for you?
It's been absolutely amazing. I'm having the time of my life. That's probably the question I get asked the most of any question, and I don't even know what to say anymore. It really is everything I dreamt it would be, and I have no complaints. There's plenty, I'm sure, you could complain about but (laughs) it would not be right to.

What's your favorite part of the concert?
It's a toss-up between my solo set and the piano duel [with Matt Giraud. There was some controversy over the "Idol" finale cutting a similar duel before the telecast, reportedly after expected guest Billy Joel, who would have joined them, didn't participate.] ... People enjoy the concert as a whole. It's really a great concert. But the stuff I'm doing on tour, it's a little more contemporary than what I did on the show, and it's definitely along the lines of the type of music I'm writing for the upcoming album, which is about midway through production. I'm getting really excited about that. But it's more contemporary than what people saw on the show, it's kind of along the lines of that whole pop-rock singer-songwriter genre, and it's a great representation of what people can expect from me as a writer and an artist in the coming months.

Do you think people got a clear sense of you as a musician from the TV show ..
...or are there intrinsic limitations to the show?
Yes. Many, many limitations. I feel like, for whatever reason, people got to know me the least in some senses. You know, I do go back and wonder if I would have done every song differently. I don't wish I had done anything differently on the show, I have no regrets, but you can always go back and wonder this, wonder that. You know, I definitely came across as the adult-contemporary guy on the show when in fact if you go to my site on MySpace, the music I've written is along the lines of what I'm doing tonight -- kind of John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw, you know, Bruce Hornsby. And a lot of the reviews have actually said it's as if the music I'm doing on tour was written for me or even written by me. And that's the biggest compliment I could ever hope for. It's the first time I'm getting to show people, without the lens of country week or Michael Jackson week, what I'm capable of.

Did you have a lot of input into the songs you perform on tour?
Every input. It's me and my choice, actually. And some people -- Kris and Adam, you know, are doing a little bit more of what they did on the show because people identify Kris with "Heartless," for instance, but I'm actually not doing a single song that did on the [TV] show. It's all fresh material and it's really, you know, as the reviews have acknowledged ... a collection of music that I've been able to take ... and really make it my own and put a fresh spin on it. And it definitely comes across as Scott MacIntyre and not the original artist.

What songs are you doing in your set?
I'm doing some Keane, some Vanessa Carlton. I'm doing some Billy Joel. There's a few different things. But the first two I mentioned are very representative of what I'm talking about 'cause they're very acoustic singer-songwriter-pop type of stuff. And it's very exciting. I mean, this is kind of what we all hoped for in auditioning for this show. We all wanted to be performers, and I never assumed I would make it to this final stage of the competition, I never took it for granted, but I knew I had a great chance. And it makes all the difference in the world for me to be on this tour. It's what I've been dreaming about since I was a kid.

And once the tour is over, you said not only have you got to finish the album, you've got a book you're working on?
I do. I have to get off the tour, get my mind clear and really formulate that and structure it. It could take more of a playful, upbeat fun tone, or it could be more introspective, but it's definitely going to be about my life. I mean, I'm still young. I'm sure there will be plenty more to write about. But I've wanted to write a book for quite awhile but never found quite the right time to do it. I've gotten thousands of e-mails from people around the world, obviously since being on the show, just telling me the most touching stories sometimes. People have really opened their hearts and told me how the little bit of my story that they witnessed on the television show has meant so much to them in their own life. And I think if people were able to read the full story, it would really be able to have a huge impact.

[We then had the what-are-you-listening-to discussion. See earlier post for some of that. More:
I listen to a lot of Yellowcard. New Found Glory. A lot of what I listen to is in kind of in that punk-pop genre, which is very different from what I write for myself.

When you talk about punk-pop, what specific things are you talking about?
I'm talking about Jimmy Eat World, New Found Glory, Blink-182. Sum-41. I'm trying to think who else. But that's kind of the general idea. Relient K. Some people call it pseudo-punk, some people call it punk pop. It's the happier side of punk, with all these harmonies and the jumping around the stage like there's no tomorrow. I think the reason I got into writing that type of music -- not for myself but for other people, other bands, you know, I've produced a lot in that genre in studios and various places -- but it's so far from what I did originally as a classical pianist. And it's even far from the John Mayer music I write for myself. It was really like an escape. I found that I really enjoyed the energy that you can really bottle that and let it out in a recording. And it's still something to this day, it's one of my favorite genres to write in.

You said that this is the happier side of punk. Is there ...
As opposed to Paramore ...

... an angry side to Scott MacIntyre?
No, no. Punk started out as this edgy, raw -- raw would be the key word, actually -- and then bands such as Yellowcard, New Found Glory, it's kind of a sunny punk type of feeling. It's not as raw as it is harmonious. It's still edgy, it's very in your face, but it's kind of like comparing Jimmy Eat World to a band like Paramore. Paramore is a lot darker. It would still probably fit in the punk genre, but it's a little less punk-pop, a little more punk-rock, you know. So I definitely enjoy keeping the pop element in there.

I hope that it works out for you. Sounds as if it's going to be real interesting album.
It is. Well, my album is not pop-punk. I did have a side project with my brother a few year ago. We had a band called the Glutes that was punk pop. I'm actually talking to a lot of major music publishers about writing for other artists and other bands.

I asked if he had a record deal yet when we were told to end the interview. He did say that a couple of days earlier he had become free to sign a deal, and he expected to have something fairly soon. And that ends my time with "Idols."

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