Season 9’s third place finalist, Casey James, will release his self-titled debut album on March 20. I hopped on the phone with him to find out more about the album, playing at the Opry, his touring plans, and his fans.
The Cool, TX native is looking forward to his album release next month. “I’m excited,” Casey said. “It took me a while to get it done but that’s because I wanted to make sure I was making the right record. I’m super proud of it. I co-wrote nine of the 11 songs on the record and co-produced and obviously got to play a ton of guitar—electric, acoustic and some Dobro and some slide guitar. I’m really proud of the record. I love it. It really represents me as an artist and where I’m at in my life right now. It’s pretty much exactly what I wanted to make as far as an album goes.”
What inspires Casey to write? He revealed, “Life, love, experiences, things you’ve been through, things you think you might go through, and things you’ve seen other people go through. I think I’ve pulled most of my songs from those things, but then sometimes you get inspiration from an idea or a thought and you just follow it through and those can be great songs as well. Sometimes they’re lighthearted. Sometimes they’re very serious, but most of my songs come from personal experience.”
Which song off Casey Jamesis the Idol alum’s favorite? “Actually, I was telling someone today that ‘This is my favorite song,’ but I’d say it after every song,” Casey admitted. “The real truth is it breaks my heart to imagine somebody listening to one song off the album, because I built the album. Everything from the song choices to the production of the song to the sequencing to the lyrics—every single part of it—I built to be a singular piece. It’s meant to be an album you listen to from beginning to end. I can’t pick a favorite because they all complement each other. If you see the big picture, the small picture makes more sense. I really want people to listen to the record as a whole. And I feel like if somebody scanned through and listened to bits and pieces, they will love my record; I know I do.”
Casey recently got the amazing opportunity to make his Grand Ole Opry debut. “It was a huge night for me. Not only did I get to debut at the Opry, I was actually playing at the Ryman which is a huge thing. It’s a very historical place. It’s got a lot of meaning. Musically, there are so many people who played there that I look up to. I was in a dressing room looking around at the walls and seeing the names of the people that had been there before. It was just unbelievable that I had that opportunity and I had a blast. Bill Anderson introduced me. The same night that I played, Del McCoury and Diamond Rio played. It was a great night. My mom was there and I think about 50 fans from all over the U.S. flew in specifically to see my debut at the Opry. Actually, even a couple of people from England flew in from overseas to be there. I went and they all congregated before the show at this place called Margaritaville in Nashville. I found out about it and showed up and you would’ve thought I was Elvis or something. They went crazy! It was a blast to surprise them like that. I showed up and gave everybody hugs. It was really something.”
It’s Hollywood Week on American Idol’s eleventh season, and to that Casey responded, “Oh no! It really is crazy that mine was two years ago because it seems like just yesterday I was talking to you. It’s been like a whirlwind since then. Oh my gosh, I can only imagine what those people are going through right now. I don’t know that I can even watch it because it’s too intense.” As for advice for the contestants, Casey offers up, “Be yourself and believe. People are going to say things to you and they’re going to want to pull you one way or another way. The only thing you can do to keep from being all over the place is to do what you do and believe in it. You have two choices. One of them is do what you think other people want you to do. Or do what you believe in and what you want to do. In my mind, a true artist does what they want to do. Sometimes it’s going to work; sometimes it’s not. If it doesn’t, then it’s not meant to be. But what happens if you do what you think everybody wants you to do and it doesn’t work? Then you’re going to wish for the rest of your life you would have been yourself. Or, say that it does work and then you don’t know how to follow it up because you weren’t being original and you weren’t being yourself. True artistry comes from originality and believing in what you do. That’s what I did and I never was wishy-washy with where I was going or what I was trying to accomplish. I knew who I was, I know who I am, and you just got to believe in that.”
Does Casey have plans to tour? “Absolutely. I just met with the agents the other day and I told them I want to hit every small venue. I want to go to every place that I can get into and just play as much as possible and do like a grassroots-type operation where you’re building it from the ground up. You’re making fans in every city across the U.S. Almost approach it like I don’t have a record deal; approach it almost like how I was doing it before American Idol. But yet you have all the added benefits of having an amazing team around you and your songs are on the radio. Your videos are on the TV, yet you’re doing this in the most real way possible and proving yourself to people. And I feel like I need to go about it that way and I’m more than happy to prove it to people.”
To all of Casey’s devoted fans who have been supporting him since the start of Idol, he says, “I love them. They have been supporting me this whole way. In between the show and now has been a long time, and they have never wavered; they’ve never given up. They’ve been right there excited and ready to come to the live shows. They’re ready to support me on the radio and on the TV. They’re ready for the album. Their support means so much to me and sometimes I get really emotional thinking about how much they put into it. I try to give back as much as I can but I don’t think I can ever do enough to say thank you.”