Phillip Phillips: 'Home' Singer Talks Breaking the Pop Mold, Health Struggles & Why He Almost Quit 'Idol'
"I'm nervous," "American Idol" Season 11 champ Phillip Phillips admits in AOL Music's New York Sessions studio. "I haven't been around this many cameras since 'Idol!'" The soft-spoken 22-year-old from Leesburg, Ga. is still adjusting to life in the spotlight since his big win on the reality singing competition show.
It's just Phillip and his guitar for the stripped-down showcase of tracks off his just-released debut album, 'The World From the Side of the Moon.' And the endearingly humble singer-songwriter is just as stripped-down when it comes time for the interview portion of the day. After pouring his heart into his performance, Phillip opens up about how he almost quit "Idol" on multiple occasions, the serious toll his ongoing health struggles took on him and how his music has been able to touch fans facing their own hardships.
You had a crazy health ordeal throughout the duration of the show with your kidneys and underwent eight surgeries while filming. How did you manage the pressures of the show, performing night after night, and going in and out of the hospital on top of all that?
Honestly, I have no idea. I guess I wanted it pretty bad. I just wanted to keep playing music. I had the opportunity to show people out there what I had to offer and, you know, I just kept making it through and I didn't want to give up. There were a couple times where I went to them and I was, like, "I have to get out of this. I have to go get fixed up." Because, it was just getting that bad. But, I had doctors and family and friends and everybody -- even the contestants. They would help out and make sure I got enough rest. They kind of the changed my schedule a little bit, because they wanted me to keep going. I wanted to keep going, but it would get tough at times. I had a lot of good people looking after me.
That's interesting, because Kelly Clarkson, who was the original "Idol," recently revealed that she had a really tough time on the show because she felt that no one was looking out for her and everyone was just looking out for the show.
You know, it's a great show. And you learn a lot of things through it. And there are times, you know, when the show needs to go right and there are times when people do look after you. She was the first one. So I'm sure her year was very, very crazy. There are things going out of whack, they're trying to figure out how they're going to film things. So, I don't really know how it was for everybody back in her season, but my season, I kind of held my own. And I also took in the help whenever it was needed.
Your experience on "Idol" ended up playing into the title of your debut album, The World From the Side of the Moon.
Yeah, I was just watching videos of myself. Somebody gave me a DVD of the whole season -- or two or three DVDs. And I watched myself from the beginning all the way to the end. I just got of glimpse of it and it was just pretty cool how much I grew as a person and also as an artist. The title represents me watching myself from this whole other world that nobody really knows about.
What is the biggest difference you see from who you were at the start of the show and who you are now?
Oh, man. I've learn a lot, as much as I can, about being on camera. Trying to do my best not to mess up or sound weird when I'm talking! The
show just teaches you so much. Doing interviews, live recordings where you can't mess up -- even though I messed up on the show all the time. I just tried to cover it up with some other lyrics that I would make up, or other chords!
Your debut single "Home" has really touched people. Can you share a story from a fan who told you your music helped them get through a difficult time?
There's a girl that is from my home state, Georgia, and she actually came to "Idol" and she had come backstage. She was from Make-A-Wish. Her name was Summer. She was like 17 or 18. She was young, and she had cancer. So we just got to know each other through the short time we were together. She kept telling me how much she likes me on the show. And then after the song came out, I heard that she really loved the song and everything; I heard from her mom. And then not too long ago she wasn't doing too well and I sent her a video and I heard back from her friends that she said it made her day and she really loves the song. She listens to the song all the time and it's really helped her out through so much. But, you know, she just passed away. So just to hear that, that the song really helped her
Man on the Moon
Gone, Gone, Gone
Can't Go Wrong
A Fool's Dance
Behind the Sessions
With the success of his debut single, “Home,” Phillip Phillips isn’t just the dude who won “American Idol.” He’s the dude with that folk-rock hit, according to the fans he’s met.
“People are like, ‘You’re the guy with the song “Home,’” and I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ They say … ‘So do you have any other music out?’ I’m like, ‘There are some covers.’ ‘What from?’ I say, “’American Idol.’” ‘You were on “American Idol”?’” he recalled.“There was a lot of people who didn’t even know I was on ‘Idol,’” he continued. “I think that’s cool.”
The star power for winners on “Idol” — or other singing competitions on TV — don’t usually continue after the season’s run, but Phillips is hoping he won’t be one of those stereotypes, thanks to the success of his multiplatinum Top 10 hit and debut album, “The World From the Side of the Moon,” which debuted at No. 4 on Billboard’s 200 albums chart this week after selling 169,011 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The song — the only one he didn’t write or co-write on the album — also got a boost when it was used in commercials for the Fierce Five, the five American female gymnasts who scored gold during the Olympics.
The 22-year-old talked about his music, being laid-back and the insta-family and friends who have surfaced since he won the “Idol” crown in an interview with The Associated Press.
AP: What do you think of the comparisons of “Home” to Mumford & Sons’ music?
Phillips: People are always gonna compare somebody to somebody else, but I think when people hear the album it’s not gonna remind them of Mumford & Sons too much because I’m a little more rock and you know they’re very folk and they’re amazing. … I think once they hear this album it’s gonna turn their heads a little bit.
Most “Idol” winners haven’t had success like Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood. Does that make you nervous?
I mean if it doesn’t do well it wasn’t meant to do well … I’d be upset for a little bit, but it’s just what it’s meant to be. I can only hope for the best. I can’t make anybody do anything. I’m nervous about it definitely, but all I can do is hope that it does well.
What do you think of the new “Idol” judges?
I’m curious to see how they’re gonna judge and to see what they’re looking for. Keith Urban is an amazing musician so that’ll be cool to have him.
I’m doing great. I’m tired, but staying busy. This reminds me, I have to get a doctor’s checkup.
You were so low-key about your health issues while on the show. Was that intentional?
I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me or anything on the show or vote for me for sympathy or anything like that, so I tried to keep it on the DL as much as I could, but the show likes that kind of stuff and they said, ‘We’re gonna put it (out),’ and I can’t really say no because I signed some papers that they could show just about what they wanted to. So, yeah, I tried to keep it as low-key
Do you find a lot of people came out of the woodwork after seeing you on “Idol”?
People that were saying they were cousins and good friends with my friend’s friend whose friend of another friend and my grandma’s sister’s other half-sister’s baby’s child. I’m like, ‘Nice to meet you finally.’
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Photos by Amy Sussman/Invision/AP
Performing Gone, Gone, Gone
Reporting the Weather
RadioShack Commercial featuring Phillip Phillips "Gone Gone Gone" - Holiday Ad The Pill Beats (w/ Jessica Sanchez)
Interviews with Christina Grimmie
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