'American Idol' Lee DeWyze's hometown visit 'was the most surreal experience'

lee-dewyze-finale-american-idol.jpg "American Idol" Lee DeWyze continues to be nothing but grateful about his whole journey. He talks about connecting with the audience, getting advice from past Idols and how much his hometown visit meant to him.

On his "Idol" journey:
I think that throughout the show, even in the beginning when I was little more reserved, I think I'm a real guy ... I can connect with an audience because I know what it's like to be on the other side of it ... For me it was just about that moment when I was up there. I connect with every song as best I can.

On meeting the past Idols:
Adam Lambert was awesome on the show. He's a real genuine guy. He's got a good attitude and he says it how it is. I got to talk to David Cook a little bit, he's one of the nicest guys I've ever met in my life. They're very genuine people, they all know what it's like to be where I'm at. I got to talk to Kris Allen, Ruben, I actually saw Carrie a little at the "Idol" party and she was just so supportive, she's been awesome ... I met Chris Daughtry too, he's a cool guy. Just down to earth and original and I can relate to that.

There's a line you cross once you get to this point and it's almost like I've joined them in a sense ... I look to them for inspiration, they've been through the same process and they've been able to make their marks on music the way I want to make my mark on music. To see that they've been successful is really awesome. I'm looking forward to working with them and forming some relationships.

What about Simon? Did he get to talk to Simon at the post-finale party?

I did see Simon and we cheers'd and says congratulations and he told me he was proud of me and I told him thanks for the opportunity because without "American Idol" I wouldn't have this opportunity to start my career on a major level. It's something I won't forget.

On his experience with making the songs original:
I think a big part that actually has stopped people from trying out is the fact that you do have to do things that aren't necessarily not your genre. My thing on the show is that you're given a song and you go with the song you choose and  ... it's one thing to get up there and play a song the way it was written originally and my thing was I just wanted to pick every song and make it sound like a song that Lee sang ... We were given free reign to arrange the song how we wanted and that's what got me through it. It's part of the game. That's what "American Idol" is. It's go up there and play cover songs and do the best you can, make them your way, make them original.  It was frustrating at times, I won't lie. There are some songs I wouldn't sing in a million years, but I signed up for this, so you play by the rules.

On his emotional hometown visit to Chicago:
By the time you get to the last three weeks, you are just exhausted. There's so much mental stress going on, not in a bad way but there's a lot to think about. You want to win, you want to work as hard as you can, it's stressful. But going back home and being able to play in front of everybody was the most amazing thing. Seeing all the people come out to support me was so huge. Seeing all the fans and support really allowed me to get a good grip on how intense the situation is and how seriously impacted people can be by music. It was the most surreal experience.

I was scheduled to play three or four songs and I ended up playing nine or 10 and how can you not? They were there for me and I wanted to do everything I could for them. Eventually the plug had to be pulled because there were time constraints, but it really gave me a sense when I came back that I'm doing the right thing. Go up there and give it everything I have. Sometimes it's not going to be the best. Sometimes I had weeks that I wasn't so sure about and it wasn't the best performance maybe, but part of it is learning from that and getting over it. Don't let one performance drag you down. If you let that happen to you in your life, what kind of artist is that?

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Photo credit: FOX