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Taylor Hicks Interview: "American Idol" Had a "Damn Good Run." Agrees It's Time to End It

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Image attributed to Taylor Hicks

Taylor Hicks

Former American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks, has re-released two of his previously released albums – 1997’s In Your Time and 2005’s Under the Radar, digitally for the first time. In Your Time features a brand new recording of “Somehow,” while the latter album will give fans the opportunity to hear an unreleased track, “No Place I’d Rather Be.”

Hicks is in the midst of an extensive tour including holiday-themed stops in California for the Hollywood Christmas Parade, as well as the annual lighting of the official state of Alabama Christmas tree in Montgomery on December 4 and the Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest in Utah on December 13.

“A lot of the general public don’t understand that you have to really have the right vehicle. This is a business. It’s awesome releasing music, but you have to be smart about how you release products into the marketplace. First of all, you’re going to be critiqued over all of it, so you just want to make it good. It hasn’t really been the right time.”

The Birmingham, Alabama native is putting the finishing touches on a new album due out in early 2016. He will pick back up his touring schedule January 16, in Bartlett, Tennessee, and is in the midst of adding dates to his 2016 itinerary.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How was your Thanksgiving, Taylor?

Taylor Hicks: It was good. I enjoyed it. I saw family and friends and ate too well.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How was the experience of participating in the Hollywood Christmas parade?

Taylor Hicks: It was neat. It’s always nice going back and seeing so many people. There’s so many people from around the world that come to that particular area. To do a Christmas song in Hollywood like that with the streets all decorated was fun. It’s just a really neat event.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is that the first time you’d seen Clay (Aiken) and Ruben (Studdard) in some time?

Taylor Hicks: Yeah. I did Law & Order with Clay not too long ago. I keep up with everybody. I haven’t seen them together in forever. It was nice to see them.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why did you decide to release two previously recorded albums?

Taylor Hicks: Obviously, it’s a re-release, but it’s a digital release. You can sign the CDs for the fans on physical copies, but those two pre-Idol albums were never released digitally. So having those released where you can really get them out, and people can enjoy them as opposed to coming to the show or having physical CDs, that was something I was excited to do.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is “No Place I’d Rather Be” not only previously unreleased, but a song you’ve never performed in concert?

Taylor Hicks: Marcus Hummon and I wrote that together when I was writing in Nashville. I’ve got tons of songs like that in my computer actually. To be honest with you, Marcus put a little bit of guitar on it, but the vocals were done on a computer. We were sitting around a MacBook Pro.

I just thought it would be cool to release that song and wet the whistle of the fans that might be itching to hear some new music. Marcus is one of my favorite writers, and obviously that song is just good, I think.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is it difficult to collaborate?

Taylor Hicks: Well, the one thing that is the cardinal rule that I live by with writing music with someone is that you always want to bring something to the table first. I think that shows a sign that you care and it’s respectful whether it’s a line of music, a lyrical idea or a musical idea. You just need to bring something to the party. Marcus did that with some of the guitar stuff, and so did I. I think it kind of manifested itself from there.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How is the new recording of “Somehow” different from the original?

Taylor Hicks: The original was recorded in someone’s spare college dorm room. I know that a lot of the fans enjoyed that song and liked it. I’ve enjoyed playing the song, so I decided to re-record it in the studio.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did I hear more horns?

Taylor Hicks: A little bit more horns, just a little bit more of a finished product.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why has it been six years since you’ve recorded new music?

Taylor Hicks: My thing is I’m not into releasing the wrong thing every two weeks. I’m into releasing the right thing when it’s right and the timing’s right. That’s kind of my mentality on that. You want to make sure that it’s good. Some artists do that. It’s not a writer’s block or anything like that.

A lot of the general public don’t understand that you have to really have the right vehicle. This is a business. It’s awesome releasing music, but you have to be smart about how you release products into the marketplace. First of all, you’re going to be critiqued over all of it, so you just want to make it good. It hasn’t really been the right time.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why did you feel that this was the right time?

Taylor Hicks: Just a hunch.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Country and Soul?

Taylor Hicks: It’s the roots thing. I don’t know what genre. I’m just going to let it do what it do. I’m not going to try to write to be genre specific. I like all kinds of music. I think whatever you put out there … just let the music fall where it may.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): The new album was recorded in Nashville?

Taylor Hicks: Yeah, most of it, yes.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Has the release date been set?

Taylor Hicks: No, it has not.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What makes a great song, and can you tell it’s going to be something good when you’re writing it?

Taylor Hicks: I don’t know. It just happens quickly. I guess the good ones happen fast in my world. I wrote “Maybe You Should” in seven minutes with Gary Nicholson. So it just depends.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What sparked your interest into wanting to become a professional musician?

Taylor Hicks: When you teach yourself how to do something and you do it good, people say that you’re good at it. Usually it’s a pretty simple idea. That’s kind of how it happened with me. I ended up learning instruments or teaching myself, and I had a positive response. That started the process, so to speak.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you think it’s just time for American Idol to end?

Taylor Hicks: I think it is. Yeah. Every show has its run, and I think 15 years is a damn good run in television, especially in this day and age.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Other than winning, what was your favorite moment on the show?

Taylor Hicks: My thing would be being around all of those really great mentors that I had that year.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Clark Beckham, the runner-up this season, says his favorite American Idol memory was your entrance for the Top 24 Green Mile.

Taylor Hicks: Yep. You know, it’s go big or go home.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there anything coming up for you on television?

Taylor Hicks: Yes, there is actually. I have a really great team of people, some really good agents that send me ideas and possible roles. It’s kind of like the music thing. You don’t take everything you you see right off the bat. You’ve got to wait.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So you do have something on TV?

Taylor Hicks: Possibly, yes.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Will you be doing anything similar to the Las Vegas gig in the future?

Taylor Hicks: You will be the first to know. How about that?

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That works for me (laughs). On December 13, you’ll be at the Celebrity Skifest in Deer Valley. Are you a good skier?

Taylor Hicks: I love to ski. Being from Alabama, I don’t get to do that much. It’s fun. I like cold weather, so I’m excited to go to Deer Valley and do a ski event. I try to ski once a year. But yeah, it should be fun. I’m looking forward to it.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You made an appearance on Donald Trump’s All-Star Celebrity Apprentice a few years ago. What do you think about Trump running for president?

Taylor Hicks: It doesn’t surprise me.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you think he stands a chance?

Taylor Hicks: I do think that he has a chance. But what we all believe in politics today will be 180 degrees the opposite way in a year from how. We all have to wait and see how all of this is going to play out.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How’s the Soul Patrol these days?

Taylor Hicks: I enjoy my fans. I’m blessed to have them. Whether they’re on the Soul Patrol or not, I’m glad we’re still on this journey together.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What inspired your rendition of “Silent Night”?

Taylor Hicks: That’s one of my favorite Christmas songs. I just remember hearing all kinds of different versions of it. I got in the studio, played around with it, and it just took on a soulful direction. I ended up deciding to record it and putting out a single on it. I’m giving it to the fans for Christmas.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How do you spend Christmas?

Taylor Hicks: Like everyone else, with family and friends. I enjoy seeing those that I haven’t seen in a while. I enjoy the food. Hopefully, I’ll be in a place where it’s cold and it feels like Christmas.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You work with Toys for Tots every year?

Taylor Hicks: I’ve always partnered with Toys for Tots. It’s a great organization around Christmas. You want to make sure you’re giving back. There’s really no money changing hands. It’s a toy in a child’s hand that normally wouldn’t have a Christmas. That’s something I enjoy immensely at this time of year because it’s direct, and the kids have a happy and positive Christmas. I like to get involved in that every year.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Who do you listen to these days?

Taylor Hicks: Kendrick Lamar.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I love the words you used to describe yourself on your Twitter page, especially “hippie” and “genuine smart ass.” Which one of those two are you proudest of?

Taylor Hicks: You know, I don’t know. I might err on the side of genuine smart ass, to be honest with you (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Will you be touring on the new album next year?

Taylor Hicks: I do want to get back out on the road. So yeah, you’ll be seeing me in a lot of places.

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