Perhaps not many people knew that when David Cook, winner of American Idol (AI) Season 7, was here for a back-to-back concert with his namesake, David Archuleta, two years ago, he was in deep mourning for his older brother Adam who lost his decade-long battle with brain cancer barely a month earlier. No wonder his sad, soporific eyes looked even sadder.
“I don’t think I have fully recovered from it,” David told Conversations during an exclusive 20-minute phone interview in which the usually private guy freely talked about the gnawing pain inflicted by his brother’s passing. “I think I’ll just have to learn to live with it.” Of German, Irish and English descent, David has one remaining brother, younger than he is.
David said that Adam was his inspiration and “the moving spirit” in his determination to bag the AI crown in 2008, garnering 56 percent of the votes, roughly 12 million votes over David Archuleta, the first runner-up. David (Cook’s) winning song in the AI Songwriter’s Competition category was The Time ofMy Life.
“Music is a very good therapy,” said David, turning 29 on Dec. 20, who began singing in grade school when his music teacher gave him a part in a school Christmas performance.
And that’s exactly what David did on his latest (second) album titled This Loud Morning (released locally by Sony Music) which showcases his growth as a singer, songwriter and musician while at the same time serves as, he claimed, “a major release for me.”
The other David, I mean Archuleta, was recently in Manila on his third visit, for a solo concert. When are you coming back?
“I really hope soon. I was kinda got held up in the States to get my new album down. I’m looking forward to going back there.”
What do you remember most from that visit?
“Many things. One is that I’ve never had any police officers stand ahead of me while I walked to the mall.”
In the press kit about your This Loud Morning album, it says that your life has been “punctuated by extraordinary highs and devastating lows. “ I’m sure there are so many “extraordinary highs” in your life.
“You know, I’m not saying this because I’m talking to you; I honestly mean this. One of the biggest highs in my life was my visit to Manila. It was my first time to travel halfway around the world. And to hear people singing my songs, oh my God, that was fantastic! It was absolutely flattering.”
I remember that at that time (summer of 2009), your older brother Adam had just died, and that must be one of the “devastating lows” in your life.
“Absolutely! You know, I think it’s weird for me to say that I was in a shell called American Idol and up to now, Adam continues to be my idol. And so, when he passed on, that was tough. And then (David Archuleta) and I went on a tour that included Manila. That was a break from my grieving but even when I was up on stage, I kept on thinking about Adam and that was very painful.”
You write songs as therapy, right?
“Hmmmmm. You know, This Loud Morning has probably a much more serious theme than the previous ones that I’ve written. I really challenged myself to take out all those pent-up feelings and put them down on paper. The memory of Adam permeates throughout this album. The songs are about the positive and the negative about my great loss. I think this album is me trying to make sense of a tragedy in my life.”
Did you feel lighter after writing the songs?
“Oh yes, definitely! Those songs started forming on my mind while I was on tour. As soon as I got off the road, the same thoughts and feelings started rearing their head again. So I began writing those songs eventually made up This LoudMorning. Using them as therapeutic outlets proved to be a big release for me. I’m happy with the result which is a bit up, a bit down but with a lot of honesty in it.”
Listening to the songs, I get the impression that you seem to like quiet evenings more than loud mornings. Am I right?
Describe a quiet evening.
“Just being home relaxing, listening to mellow songs. I also love hiking. Around my house in L.A. there’s a trail and I try to hit it whenever I can, usually in the early afternoons when the sun starts to come down.”
What about loud mornings? What’s not nice about them?
“When you wake up and there are a million different things going on in your mind, you feel like lingering in bed and pulling the blanket back over your head. People feel the same way sometimes, don’t they? That’s why I’m sure a lot of people can find themselves in this album.”
The song Rapid Eye Movement includes a line from which the title of the album was taken — you know: Give me one more quiet night before this loud morning gets it right and does me in. It’s so meaningful.
“I’m sure everybody has been at a point where they feel so stressed-out that they say, ‘Man, the world is loud’ and the only relief that you get is when you go to sleep. That inspired me to blend that feeling with the romantic idea that you can live your life peacefully while you are asleep. It gives you a reassurance that there’s a push button that you can use to find meaning in the world around you.”
What kind of songs do you listen to aside from your own?
“Hmmmmm. I’ve been listening to retro songs morning, afternoon and evenings when I have no work. I find them soothing.”
When you watch American Idol, what memories does it bring back to you?
“Hmmmmm. Stressful feelings, I guess. I loved being on the show even if it felt like being inside a pressure cooker. When I watch it now, I can’t imagine how I was able to survive the stress and the pressure, but I’m glad that I did.”
What might have been if you didn’t win American Idol?
“Hmmmmm. Maybe I’d be bartending or doing graphic designing.”