Visit from an Idol: Interview with Bucky Covington
When down home southern boy meets country rocker meets main stream reality show, the product is the unique talent found in Bucky Covington. You might remember Bucky from Season 5 of American Idol or from his chart topping self titled debut country album.
Bucky has been busy since he first exploded onto the scene on American Idol, where he made it to the top 8. Since then, he’s done everything from releasing a record setting album, going on tour, and appearing on TV and in the movies.
Coming off a whirl wind debut, Bucky got into the Christmas spirit earlier this month at the annual Carols by Candlelight concert at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.
We were met by a surprisingly tall long-haired North Carolinian with true down-home southern charm. His charisma and approachability are undeniable. Over the past two years he’s been honing his skills and growing as a singer, song writer and performer. There’s no denying that he is a busy man with a bright future in the spotlight.
After leaving San Diego, he’ll be heading to Albuquerque, then back to Nashville where he will get back into the studio to finish up his second album, “I’m Alright” to be released spring of 2010. Despite the busy schedule, he sat down with us to chat about where he’s been and what where he’s going.
With the holidays coming up, what’s your schedule like, are you going to be taking a break for the holidays?
I thought I was and I just got a phone call that I’m going to be going back into the studio next week. Then I’ve got a show to do in Nashville on Dec. 29th and then we’re playing on New Years Eve in North Carolina, my home state, so that should be a rockin’ good time.
What are your plans for tonight’s show? Are you going to play your old songs or some songs off the new album?
You know, I’ve had three top tens, so it’s hard to choose. I think I’m going to play some of my top tens and one new song. I was actually in my truck the other day, and I was thinking that I need to write a new song. So I called my buddy and we hammered this song out. You know, it doesn’t really have a name yet. I’m going to say “Lamp Post” or something like that. Let’s hope it’s a hit!
Are you still working on songs for the new album?
I thought I was done with the album but the longer I had to sit on it the more I started to think, “maybe I’ll do this, maybe I’ll do that.” When we go back into the studio I think we’ll have a few more, which is a good problem to have. We’re going to soup up the album a little more.
There were a couple of songs that I wasn’t real excited about so I’m very happy to go back into the studio and sort it out. I wrote a couple of songs and I know one is definitely going to be on the album.
So we’re not quite done with the album yet. We’re getting very close; but of course we’ve still got to do the pictures and everything else. The thank yous…you know how hard it is to write thank yous for an album? It’s very easy to thank a lot of folks but by the time you get done you will forget somebody, I promise. Every time I do it, it’s like I forgot this and this and this. I’m always forgetting someone. There are a lot of people who help.
Now, do you usually write your own music? Because the top 10s you had are all so different.
I did not write those. I don’t write a whole bunch, I’m not a big song writer. I do enjoy writing and everything but I’ve got the attention span of a mouse, so sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.
My first album I think I had one song on it that I wrote. But you know, in Nashville there are a lot of great song writers. And I’m proud of the songs I write and everything but if I hear a song that’s just better than mine, I’m not going to cut that song, I’m going to cut mine. I just want to do a good album however that may happen.
What was your favorite song off the last album?
My favorite song never went to radio. It’s a song called “Back When We Were Gods.” I absolutely love the song. I still have it in my show. Of course, now that I’ve got a new album coming out I’ve got to make room for new songs. But this song I’ve yet to get rid of.
There’s that one and another one called “I’m Good.” Both are in the set list and I won’t be surprised if I go back and re-cut either one of them, like on the 5th album or something because those are two songs I would really love to hit radio and let people hear it.
Do you have favorite song to perform?
You know I love performing those songs and everything, but when it comes to performing, that switches around. A lot of times it’s the new song. Whatever song is the newest in the set list is probably the most fun for me because it’s the newest. But mainly when you sing, for instance, the three top tens, when I sing one of those and the crowd starts singing along it’s kind of tough to beat. When the crowd starts singing with you, that’s always a favorite. And when trying to pick between “I’ll Walk,” “It’s Good to Be Us,” and “A Different World,” I can’t pick between the three. If the crowd sings, I’m having a ball.
It’s good to be a part of the crowd when that happens, but I can’t imagine how it would feel to hear your own songs being sung back.
You have no idea, that’s the best.
You know, I did the Hannah Montana movie which was very cool but the main difference between doing a movie and doing music is when you’re onstage it’s instant gratification. When you sing a song, if people hate it they boo you, if they love it they cheer right away. But when you do a movie you do all the work and it’s a year, year and a half later before it comes out.
Do you have any future plans for more movies?
You know, it was very cool. It was a neat thing. I would definitely like to do some more TV later on, whatever it may be. I love comedy and love street channel type stuff – love dirt bikes, street bikes, fast cars, old cars, you know I worked at a body shop for about ten years. But I would definitely like to do more stuff like that.
But music is what I love doing. I just love to the tour, I love just getting on my bus, playing shows at night; I like waking up in a different city the next day. I dig that, I really dig that. But later on down the road it would be very neat to do some more TV.
And you’ve already had some experience, with the Hannah Montana movie, and you were on Are You Smarter Than a 5th grader.
Honestly, when you were looking at me, you did not think I would make it all the way to the end did you? If you know anything about me you did not think I could win all of that, did you?
I’ve never seen anyone make it to the end.
Honestly, they did a lot of editing. But I talked my way through all of them. You just use logic. It’s the one thing I have. It was a lot of luck. You know, street smarts. And it worked! And you know, I’m a big fan of comedy and I love Jeff Foxworthy so it was neat to hang out with him a bit; that was fun.
The show in San Diego benefits the Rady Childen’s Hospital. Do you do a lot of benefit concerts? Or charity work?
I love giving to those in need, especially children. I think anyone who can help likes to help. But it gets very tough to pick which one. When it comes to children and children’s hospitals, I do a lot of work with St. Jude’s. And today, survival rates for diseases like Leukemia are so high. So when you’re picking something to help with, it’s a no-brainer. They’re raising money, and using it wisely.
I love doing stuff to help charity. I actually was just at home…and you know I’ve got a video out…I think it just went to #15 on GAC’s countdown…You know, I went back and shot a video for “Gonna Be Somebody” in my hometown of Rockingham, North Carolina. We had close to 10,000 people show up and we benefited Back Pack Pals, which is a really good organization. They noticed children that were getting discount lunches at school were eating at school, but on the weekends were going hungry – which is absolutely horrible. It’s terrible. So this was a great organization to help with. It’s an amazing organization; I’d love to help it grow.
Now, what are some things we can expect on this new album that maybe weren’t on the old one?
Well, I am very proud of my first album, I love that album. But you know, it did have more of a rush on it. I came off of American Idol and we wanted to hit that window.
How long did you have to do that first album after you were done with Idol?
I came off of Idol, then we did the tour…but I think it was all in that first year. Maybe 5 or 6 months. But you know, with this album I have been able to grow a little bit. In the 3 years since I was on American Idol, being in country music, being upfront with it everyday, going out, seeing other peoples’ shows, listening…I think I’ve grown a lot.
Vocally I’ve grown a good bit and this album has got songs on it that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have attempted on my first album. It’s got some more catchy, grab your balls and go for it kind of a thing, you know what I mean? There’s this one song on there called “I Want My Life Back” and it’s a great vocal song and I absolutely love it.
We did keep a variety going. One thing I love about country music is the variety. Some songs have a pop edge, so have a rock edge, and that’s what I love. I listen to about everything from Eminem to George Straight, whatever it may be. I love Johny Lange; I’m a big blues fan.
With different musical influences, and from being on Idol, do you find that having that variety helps to draw fans from outside country music?
I’ve got mostly country fans, of course. But I have met some folks that got to know me from American Idol and they weren’t country fans at all. Once they follow me a little bit they became country music fans. You’re always proud to hear that. You know I’ve had wives that have dragged their husbands to my shows and they come up to me afterward and say, “Man, I hated country, but you’re okay. I’m going to get your album.”
One thing I’ve always loved about country music is the fans. You know, if they like you, they like you. They like you, everything about you. That’s a very cool thing.
But you know, it’s a tough business. There’s always someone else, someone looking up to you, and someone trying to take your place. So without a doubt you have to stay keyed in on things. It’s a lot of work. There’s a lot of the backend that you have to remember to do.
If you weren’t on American Idol, what would you be doing?
You know, I used to work in my dad’s body shop, but I don’t think I would have been there very long. I would have probably done the bar circuit. I was thinking about moving to Nashville, Tennessee to try the old fashioned way. I didn’t know what I would do once I got there, but I was going to go walk into bars and start singing and see what happened.
But I did know that staying in Rockingham, North Carolina, no producer was going to walk into a club and say, “This kid’s got it” so I knew I had to get out of town and go to where the music was. So I would like to think I’d be in Nashville with a record deal, maybe just 2 years behind.
That was my whole plan, but out of the blue my sister in law told me about American Idol and said, give it a shot. She got me to the audition and she made sure it happened. And of course, my sister in law is on tour with me, along with my identical twin brother and my best friend Ducky. So it’s Bucky, Rocky, and Ducky.
It’s been a very cool ride and it’s really great to be here to help out a good cause. And maybe while I’m here I’ll check out Sea World.
Is there any last thing you want to tell San Diego?
A big Thank you to the fans and everyone that has supported me through American Idol and all the success we have had with the three top tens and the videos. You have no idea what it means. I’ve very proud to be able to do this, hopefully for the next 30 years. And everybody buy the new album!
Keep an eye out for his sophomore album, “I’m Alright,” coming out this Spring. And follow Bucky Covington on Myspace and Twitter. You can also find out more information about upcoming tour dates on www.buckycovington.com or check the latest videos, songs, and pictures from Bucky on iLike.