Cook is ready to shatter notions
You would think “American Idol” winner David Cook would be at least the tiniest bit rattled right now, given the roller-coaster ride the gravel-voiced rock singer has been on of late.
Separating from RCA and going indie after sales of his sophomore album, “This Loud Morning,” fell well short of his platinum 2008 major-label debut record. Selling his L.A. home to relocate, incongruously, to Nashville. Watching two of his original band members move on to other projects. Anticipating turning the Big 3-0 this December.
Yet something in Cook’s voice sounds convincing when he insists it’s all good.
“In all honesty, I really am at peace right now,” the 2008 winner of America’s most-watched singing contest said in a recent call from his new home state of Tennessee.
Working now as an independent artist, fully controlling the artistic process, has made him “excited again about making music,” he said. “There were some points during the creation of this second record where I was questioning that a little bit. But now there is a renewed focus, renewed creativity. … I feel pretty comfortable in my skin at this moment.”
Cook — best known for the chart-topping ballad “Time of My Life,” his “American Idol” coronation song, as well as the rock and pop singles “Light On,” “Come Back to Me,” and recent releases “The Last Song I’ll Write For You,” “Fade Into Me” and “The Last Goodbye” — is also eager to hit Hawaii for the first time.
The singer headlines the Fourth of July celebration at the Hickam Officers Club. His day will include an invitation-only meet-and-greet, a 7:15 p.m. concert of his latest songs, as well as some surprises, and singing the national anthem to kick off the 8:30 p.m. fireworks show. (He says he hopes to come back to the islands to perform another time.)
Also in July: a couple of vacation days here, a celebrity softball game in Kansas City, then concerts in the Philippines and Indonesia.
HICKAM CONCERTGOERS can expect a show that is by turns rocking and reflective. Cook will mainly showcase songs from his 2011 album “This Loud Morning” — a complex collection he calls “one of the most uncomfortable records I’ve ever written.”
FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATIONS
TUESDAY, JULY 3
Fireworks of Independence, Aloha Tower Marketplace’s family-friendly celebration with fireworks show (8:45 p.m.), entertainment including Kevin Jones, EMKE, Virgin Mary and Tamatoa, with hosts Dawn O’Brien and Tony Silva, and keiki games, balloon art, face painting and Captain Sharka, 5-9 p.m. Free. 528-5700
Red, White and Brews at Gordon Biersch, VIP pier party with special buffet, fireworks viewing and entertainment including Nuvo, Xcite, Funkshun, Hoohili and Kaleo Del Sol & Co., 6:30-9 p.m., Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant. $25-$45 (plus tax, tip). Reservations: 387-5674
ElectroWorks, electronic-music dance party featuring Russian DJ trio Swanky Tunes, pictured, and remix DJ duo Disco Fries, presented by Pure Coalition, Livewire, Torq, Racesauce and Element Group, 9 p.m., Aloha Tower Marketplace. $25. 550-8457, honoluluboxoffice.com
WEDNESDAY, JULY 4
Runway Run 5K, Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit run along base’s flight line with views of the Koolau Mountains, 6:30 a.m., Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe. $25-$30. Register at www.mccshawaii.com/cgfit.shtml by 4 p.m. today, or morning of the run. 254-7590
Freedom Run, 5K run, 10K run and 1-mile walk benefiting the Epilepsy Foundation of Hawaii, 7 a.m., Kailua High School. $25-$30. hawaiiepilepsy.com, 528-3058
Army’s 41st Annual Fourth of July Spectacular, daylong celebration featuring Hoobastank (4 p.m.), fireworks display (8:30 p.m.), Jack’s Mannequin (5:30 p.m.), Dita Holifield, Sky Dive Hawaii demonstration, games, 5K Fun Run (8 a.m.), Children’s 1-Mile Fun Run, crafts, new products bazaar, food booths and car giveaway, 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Schofield Barracks. Free admission. $18 run entry. Gate entry information, schedule: 656-3159, himwr.com
Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum & Visitor Center, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (includes USS Arizona Memorial), performance by the Pacific Fleet Band, and first 5,000 visitors will receive free small U.S. flags. 7 a.m.-5 p.m., 954-8777
Third Annual Ewa July 4 Train Ride, 90-minute scenic railway ride to Kahe Point and back with patriotic and big-band-era tunes and historic narration of Ewa Plains plantation era and military history, 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Ewa Train Museum. $8-$12. 4ewa.org
Independence Day at Maunalua Bay Festival, fifth annual event, with a fireworks display (8 p.m.); entertainment including Maunalua, Steven Inglis, Ricky Hana, hula and KINE DJs; and Maunalua Talk Story (3 p.m.) about the area’s history and culture; a watermelon-eating contest, food booths, keiki activities and more, 1-9 p.m., Maunalua Bay. idmbf.com
4th of July Spectacular, featuring “American Idol” winner David Cook (7:15 p.m.); fireworks display (8:30 p.m.); and activities including airbrush tattoos, a petting zoo, pony rides, rides, games, inflatables, airball and miniature golf; with food and drink vendors, 2-9 p.m., Hickam Officers Club at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. Free admission; open to all military-affiliated personnel and their sponsored guests. greatlifehawaii.com
Fourth of July Concert on the Great Lawn, featuring Yoza, Kalahiki & Freitas, DJ Bobby and Star 101.9 DJ Maleko, 3-9 p.m., Hilton Hawaiian Village. $10-$20; part of proceeds benefits Honolulu Zoo. 478-2985, 542-7378
Family Fun and Fireworks Show, Turtle Bay Resort’s annual festivities include fireworks display (8 p.m.), Kapena, Kamaka Trio and Autumn Complex, community booths, military displays and community food vendors, 4-8:30 p.m., Turtle Bay Resort, stables and West Lawn. Free. turtlebayresort.com, 293-6000
Ala Moana Center’s 21st Annual Fourth of July Spectacular, featuring Hawaii’s largest Fourth of July fireworks show (8:30 p.m.), launched from Ala Moana Beach Park with synchronized soundtrack on Krater 96, and entertainment on the makai-Ewa parking deck including Pacific Fleet Ceremonial Band, Holunape, HAPA, Na Palapalai and A Touch of Gold, 5 p.m., Ala Moana Center. Free. alamoanacenter.com
Celebrating the Military, Amy Hanaiali’i, Jim Nabors and Jimmy Borges join conductor Matt Catingub and the Hawaii Symphony Pops in a patriotic concert, 6 p.m., Waikiki Shell. $10-$82. ticketmaster.com, hawaiisymphonyorchestra.org, 593-9468
Fireworks on the Sea, Waikiki Ocean Club cruise off Honolulu with dining, dancing and viewing of Ala Moana Center fireworks, 6-10 p.m., departing from Ala Wai Boat Harbor. $99. Reservations: waikikioceanclub.com, 927-9606
4th of July Party with Michael Rose, lead singer of Black Uhuru, with Guidance Roots Music and Dinosouls, 9 p.m., Surfer, The Bar, Turtle Bay Resort. $35-$40. Ages 21+. 293-6000, surferthebar.com
The mercurial mix of rock, pop and ballads was penned and produced during a time of inner turmoil. Cook was feeling stunned by the surreality of the sudden celebrity that came with winning Season 7 of “American Idol.”
In the aftermath, he smashed multiple Billboard records with his “American Idol” recordings, then created his first major-label album, “David Cook,” in a frenetic 4 1/2 months with producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day), and saw it go platinum (1.5 million copies to date). He also crisscrossed the nation for more than 150 shows with his band, The Anthemic, all while also struggling to cope with his beloved brother Adam’s battle with brain cancer and death in May 2009.
During that tumultuous time, adjusting mentally and healing emotionally “got put on the back burner,” Cook says.
“Once I got off the road, all that stuff came rushing back — and it was pretty overwhelming.”
The album takes its title from a lyric in its grungy closing track, “Rapid Eye Movement”: “Give me one more quiet night, ‘fore this loud morning gets it right and does me in.”
That tune and the opening song, “Circadian,” reference a longing to slip into sleep to escape reality. Not coincidentally, they are this album’s tracks that Cook says he feels most deeply.
SO HOW is it possible that the album has sold slowly, just 130,000 copies to date, even with so much personal emotion; celebrated co-writers such as Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic), Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace) and John Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls); the sure hand of producer Matt Serletic (Matchbox 20); and 14 months of meticulous recording and production?
Cook’s comparatively short tour in support of “This Loud Morning,” with barely two dozen stops, and a recent split from Sony-owned RCA may have been a factor, and sent die-hard fans into fits of hand-wringing.
The singer’s view of the sophomore slump is that three years and some discord on the team made the stretch too long between albums.
At everything else, though, he seems to audibly shrug.
The split with RCA was “more than amicable,” he says. He’s already writing for a third album and feels no hurry to hook up with another major contract — only “if the right label comes along and believes in the project.”
Meanwhile, Cook said his move to Nashville is intended to help him stick close to a music industry hub while living nearer to his family in Missouri and Indiana, and doesn’t signal an intent to switch to the country genre. He makes light of the mere idea: “My heart’s still in rock and indie and alternative. I don’t even own a truck. So I can’t sing a song about a truck.”
As for turning 30, the one-time People magazine Hottest Bachelor says, “It just doesn’t feel scary to me. I’ve already got a few gray hairs and I’m kind of excited about that.”
HIS CONCERT on the Fourth of July, Cook assures, will be no sobfest.
At live shows, Cook is known to bring it hard, mixing in covers ranging from throwback ’70s, ’80s and ’90s rock, to tunes evoking the post-grunge bands he led or played with before “Idol,” such as his high school and college band Axium, and regional indie favorite Midwest Kings.
Harder still, even. Muse’s “Stockholm Syndrome” or King’s X’s “Dogman,” anyone?
Cook has been known to burn up those and other spicy songs onstage, which may surprise TV viewers who may imagine him and his “Idol” brethren to be all about fluffy pop.
The former musical-theater geek, graphic designer, high school baseball player and bartender relishes tossing curveballs and mixing mischief into his live shows. As grateful for and proud of his “American Idol” title as he is, one of his favorite things to do, he confesses, is shatter people’s preconceived notions about it, and him.
If they come away from the July Fourth show surprised, he’ll feel he’s done his job.
That “Idol” label, Cook says with a conspiratorial chuckle, “carries with it all sorts of fun
little boundaries I like to jump over.”
—Esme Infante Nii / Special to the Star-Advertiser