'American Idol' David Cook on 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,' Ellen DeGeneres and more
The singer is the latest "Get on the Bus" celebrity volunteer on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," appearing on the show Sunday, Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Xzibit returns for a second time to volunteer as well.
The episode centers on the Cowan family, factory workers who have four children. The youngest, 12-year-old Kori, suffers from a debilitating congenital blood disease. On top of that, it seems that the mold infestation in their house has caused Kori to develop painful polyps in her nasal cavity and behind her eyes. Despite all these problems, Kori works to raise money for the American Cancer Society to honor her friend, a girl she met a the blood clinic.
Cook, who is currently in British Columbia working on songwriting for his next record, took the time out to talk to Zap2it about his experiences on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
He also discussed his vision for his new album, how he thinks Ellen DeGeneres will do on "American Idol," the whereabouts of his dog Dublin and a possible future in acting.
Enjoy, all you Cookies! *
"EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION"
How did you get involved with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"?
Cook: I had met Kori and the Cowan-Brown family prior to all of this. They had come to a show with some of my family. I have family in a town very close to where they're from in Bunker Hill, Indiana. We met, and I got to hear Kori's story and was really moved by it, to see anybody, let alone a 12-year-old girl, deal with their own struggles and still have that resolve to make the reality around them a better place. That's awe-inspiring. So when ABC and "Extreme Makeover" asked to be involved, it was kind of a no-brainer. I had actually met the family before "Extreme Makeover" had come along.
What was your favorite part of being on the show?
Cook: The end result really. I really don't feel like it's about me being involved or about the show. It's about the family, to see a family that has struggled a long time with various issues and to see them get a boost in the right direction. That's awesome. So to be privy to that and be there, that was a big honor.
Do you cry when you watch "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"?
Cook: I do a little. (laughs) They got me in one of the interviews I think. I held it together for the most part. Maybe you'll get to see that.
How was it working with Ty Pennington, and is his hair as cool as it looks?
Cook: Ty's rad, man. He's just got this real chill SoCal vibe to him. He has more energy than I'd know what to do with. But the hair is legit.
Which bus is cooler: Your tour bus or the "EM: HE" bus?
Cook: Oh, theirs! Ours is way smellier for sure. Theirs is like, all real nice leather, all these decorative pieces. Ours is like, "Hey look, there's an empty can. That's awesome."
But you have Dublin.
Cook: We do have Dublin, yeah, so maybe he's the equalizer.
Was he there for your "EM: HE" experience?
Cook: He wasn't, no. (laughs) The backstory on that is Dublin was out on the road with us when we did the "Good Morning America" performance in Central Park with Kris [Allen] and Adam [Lambert]. Dublin stayed at the hotel and got a little fidgety because I wasn't there and ate some bedding. So we had to send him home. So he's been in Kansas City being watched by my brother Andrew.
Are there any skills you learned from being on "EM: HE" that you might use later?
Cook: Um, I learned how to carry drywall. (laughs) Actually, there's one thing about the whole process that I really enjoyed: Setting the decorative stone on the front facade of the house. I don't know why, but I actually really enjoyed it. So, if the whole music thing doesn't work out ...
What would you like people watching the show to take away from it?
Cook: I think the lesson to be learned is really from Kori. Again, to see this little girl have the resolve to not only deal with her own issues but also to deal with others'. I'm 27-years-old and sometimes I have problems doing that. I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned from her. So that's a reason to tune in. This girl is amazing, and I think anyone watching the show will definitely concur.
Have you kept up with the family to see what's going on with them since the show?
Cook: I have. We were lucky enough to have them come out to a show and we got a chance to talk to them, hang out with them, eat dinner together. We still kind of keep in touch through emails and stuff. A great family. I'm really happy and proud to be involved and to have them around.
Will we hear any of your music on "EM: HE"?
Cook: I honestly don't know. I think it's a possibility for sure.
SONGWRITING AND MUSIC
How is the writing going for the new album?
Cook: We're really just in building material mode. It's been good so far to really get back into the creative process and to get off the road and to focus. I'm really excited with what's coming out. I'm writing differently in some cases, really trying to concentrate on everything coming from an honest place, which is therapeutic and scary and all of that stuff.
Will you be co-writing some of these songs?
Cook: Absolutely yeah, so far it's all been co-writes and I've gotten the chance to sit down and write with the band a bit, which has been great. It's exciting to see everything come to fruition with this next record and see the evolution from the first record.
Will Brian Howes produce the next record?
Cook: We haven't really discussed producers yet. Having written with Brian here for the last couple days, he seems like a chill dude, so I certainly wouldn't mind it.
Any duets planned?
Cook: Nothing planned, but then we're still in the infancy. The topic has been discussed. I'm not opposed to it at all.
I enjoyed your covers, especially "Shattered Dreams" ...
Cook: By the way, I saw that [story you wrote about "Shattered Dreams"]. Thank you. I brought it up at a couple of shows. I tried to skew the numbers a little bit.
Oh wow, thanks! So, are you looking at any new covers for the upcoming album?
Cook: As of right now, there are no talks of doing covers on the record just because I really want there to be as much opportunity as possible to get new music out there. I'm really proud of the covers that we do. We have fun with them. At this point though, I like those just being live, kind of YouTube gems.
Is your songwriting easier or more difficult this time around?
Cook: It's harder this time I think, only because I'm really putting a premium on this stuff. I want everything we come out with to be the best thing ever. So the lines I've set for this writing is lofty for sure. I'm setting the bar high.
Are there any plans for "Analog Heart" like a re-release or boxed set?
Cook: I've been asked that a lot and that's really flattering. It was all kind of thrown together and they were originally written as demos for my old band Axiom. There's really not talk of it. That's not to say those song won't turn up somewhere in the future. But as far as re-releasing "Analog Heart," that was a moment in time, and I'm not really into looking back too much.
Any advice for someone who is trying to teach him/herself guitar?
Cook: It's going to hurt when you start. The finger calluses, those aren't fun at all. For me it was a really slow climb. I've been self-taught my whole life. But the gratification of getting over the hump and being able to write and all that stuff, that's well worth it.
Who would your ideal musical mentor be?
Cook: I kind of pick and choose from my favorites a lot. I love the passion and the resolve for public awareness that Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace brings to the table. I love the whole "I take my music seriously but not myself seriously" mentality from someone like [Foo Fighters'] Dave Grohl. So I kind of find what I like about certain performers and try to adhere to it. I'm a conglomerate I guess. They've got a permanent spot on my music list.
What are your latest musical favorites?
Cook: The last three band records that I bought were all "A" names: Ann Boleyn, Acceptance and The Almost.
Any plans on swinging by Germany in the future for shows?
Cook: I was really bummed that we didn't get to Europe and South America. It was really just the schedule more than anything, but hopefully with this next record process I'll be able to get out there. There's a lot of the world I want to experience. I'm open to anywhere. I've got a passport for the first time in my life and I want to fill it up with stamps. I need to get busy with that.
"AMERICAN IDOL," VLOGGING AND MORE
What do you think about Ellen DeGeneres becoming an "American Idol" judge?
Cook: I'm excited about it. I've been fortunate enough to be on Ellen's show a couple times and really got a chance to talk with her. She's a knowledgeable fan. She gets the process. I think she's going to surprise a lot of people. Of course, I was really bummed to see Paula go. She was a big part of the process for me and a lot of other people. But you know change is inevitable.
Do you have any opinion on Adam Lambert's American Music Awards performance or is that done?
Cook: I was surprised, yeah sure, but at the same token, it's done, it's over. At this point to me, it's like the Kanye [West] thing. It's old and time to move on.
Are you and your family participating in the Race for Hope this year?
Cook: Absolutely. I've started training for May 2nd. I believe my family will be involved. My dad will be a timekeeper, but I think everyone's going to be involved.
Random question: Do you have a favorite font?
Cook: A favorite font? Um, wow. The only one I can think of is Wingdings. I'll go with Wingdings. Why not?
When's your next vlog post going to be?
Cook: Actually, with us being off the road -- my rhythm guitar player Andy was our main video editor -- so I've got to try to get enough footage to give to him and find time to go over it. So hopefully soon. But I'm thinking about starting something new. I think "Pork Beans" is an on the road thing. We'll come up with something else for the record process.
Do you find you're thinking differently because vlogging is a different creative outlet?
Cook: Absolutely. I remember getting ready for the record and the label wanting me to do vlogs, basically, "Hey this is David. This is what I'm doing. Thank you so much. See ya." I felt like we could do more with it. That's kind of where "Pork Beans" came from. Let's have fun with it. Let's make things entertaining. That's really what it turned into. I love it. It's a chance to step away from the day-to-day of being on the road ... after a while that can get monotonous. It was a nice chance to really wrap your head around something else for a minute.
After doing the fun "Pork Beans" stuff, would you consider a recurring role on TV?
Cook: Absolutely yeah. I actually just saw my good friend Carrie [Underwood], she just got a gig on "How I Met Your Mother," which is awesome. I'd love to. Obviously I'm a musician first and all that, but I like the concept of being creative, so whatever avenue I can get that done is something I'm absolutely stoked about. I'd do any of it. I'll play a cadaver on "House" if they'll have me. I can sit really still.
Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
Cook: Yeah, my resolution is to make a better record and put together a better tour than this last one.
What do you think? Will you tune in to watch David's "EM: HE"?
*A huge thank you to the David Cook fans/ Zap2it readers (too many to name!) who submitted great questions via Twitter for this interview.
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Photo credit: Getty Images, OfficialDavidCook.com