Born in Kansas City, now residing in Nashville, singer/songwriter and American Idol winner David Cook has a long-standing passion for music, a passion that’s now taken him around the world. David’s latest work, his EP “Chromance“, which just dropped in February, features all new material that was written over the past year. Cook has, once again, involved his fans in the creation and release of this EP through a hugely successful PledgeMusic campaign – giving them the opportunity to follow the progress of the EP from inception through its February release. In addition to signed guitars, personalized voicemail messages and other limited-edition items, participating fans had access to one-of-a-kind experiences and were the first to hear the new material. Be sure to have a listen to “Ghost Magnetic”, from the release, embedded below.
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Sean Ritchie: Let’s start off with Kansas City where you grew up. What really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor?
David Cook: Kansas City, to me, is as advertised. It’s practically the middle of the country. I say that, because I feel like you get a little bit of everything in Kansas City. I think moving away after college really allowed me to appreciate it a little bit more. It’s got a lot of the big-city amenities, but it’s got a small-town feel, which is great.
As far as places to go, there’s different avenues depending on your taste. Obviously, you’ve got the Royal’s and the Chief’s stadiums. I would contend that Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium are two of the best stadiums to take in a sporting event in the country. There’s also Sporting KC that has a great, new stadium called Children’s Mercy Park. The nightlife is crazy. You have the [Country Club] Plaza. There’s also the Westport neighborhood in the city, there’s always a show going on somewhere there. There’s a lot of great music in KC.
For food, listen it’s KC, so there’s barbecue. I would consider myself a bit of a barbecue connoisseur, because I really enjoy eating it. KC barbecue is certainly my favorite. The sauces are great. You’ve got Arthur Bryant’s, [Fiorella’s] Jack Stack [Barbecue], Q39 and Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. I would recommend going, trying them all and picking your favorite, because that’s what I do.
SR: I’ve heard so many good things about KC and you pretty much covered them all. Now, how did you first get exposed to music? Was it through family or friends? How did you get inspired to eventually create your own?
DC: My dad played guitar, so he had this beat-up, acoustic guitar that was always around. I got my own guitar when I was 12 or 13. Being a lefty, it was my first time having my own guitar that I could try to play. I spent a couple years learning and then started a band. I was on board with the creative process pretty early. I think writing music is probably the cheapest therapist you can find. Being an angsty teen, it was great to get those vibes out on paper and out of my head. I enjoyed it from the get. As I got older, I was able to buy a van with my band and “tour” around the Midwest. It made me feel like I was on top of the world. To have all this stuff snowball into touring the world, and having all these life experiences that I never thought I would do, all kind of started with me cutting my teeth musically in KC.
SR: Really cool to hear. Your new EP “Chromance” just came out a little while ago. Talk about your mindset and thought process behind this release. How excited are you to have it out and to play it live for you fans?
DC: There was a concerted effort with this EP. I wanted to change the creative process for myself. I grew up in rock bands and guitar was always the instrument. With this new EP I just wanted it to be an instrument. I wanted to take some of the impetus off of that, and not make it the cornerstone of everything. I tried to bring in more cinematic and pop elements. In result, this record feels, well, more cinematic than anything I’ve ever done. There’s a lot of colors to it. There’s a lot of different landscapes. To be able, now, to have the record out, go out on the road to play it live for people and put those vibes out is exciting. This record represents something new and fresh for me.
SR: I enjoyed listening to it. To create music, and traveling to promote it, must be such a feeling. What’s the most impactful and meaningful part you cherish about it? Does the travel help inspirationally?
DC: The travel is huge. I’ve always enjoyed traveling, even before I had the opportunity to play music while doing it. But, my travel prior to [American] Idol was just regulated to the contiguous United States — going to see family. Really to be able to go and see different cultures in countries in the last 10 years has expanded my worldview. I think traveling expands your worldview. It certainly makes you open to how diverse this planet is, and how minute we are as a part of it. It informs, not just my songwriting, but how I live on a day-to-day basis. Those travel experiences are life lessons that I don’t think you get any other way.
SR: To continue on that, I wanted to get a little deeper into your personal travels. When you do have some downtime are you more of a beach guy? Looking for the mountains? Or, trying to be near a city?
DC: I admittedly am not a beach person. I appreciate them, but it’s not my thing. I get bored really easily. My wife loves beaches though. I think her perfect vacation is any beach. The last time we went on a beach vacation I’m sitting on the beach after an hour thinking, “What now?” I ended up going back to the room and doing something else.
I love cities. I love the sensory overload of them. I’m particularly into the history, so I love the eastern part of the US. I love learning about the beginning of the country and the Civil War, that kind of stuff. I also love going over to Europe. We were fortunate enough to go over to Rome and I loved it. There’s so much history and culture, but the food was just amazing too. I love places like that, places where there’s always something to do.
SR: Yes, as I’ve got older, I’ve really started to appreciate the history of places more. It’s really interesting. Continuing, when you’re on an airline and you have to take a long-haul flight, are there any necessities that you have to have to get you through the trip?
DC: A sleep aid helps for me, especially when you’re going somewhere. Coming home is a little easier, but when you’re going to a new place you’re excited. I have problems sleeping on planes already. Not so much anxiety, I think it’s more of a comfort and anticipation thing. A nice pillow and a natural sleep aid works for me, as well as a book or some movie to watch. Something to just past the time.
SR: I have that problem too. I can’t really sleep sitting up. It doesn’t matter where I am. I need to be lying down to sleep. I always love to ask well-traveled people if there are any destinations that they haven’t been to, but still want to see. Do you have a few on your list?
DC: I haven’t been able to experience Japan yet. I would really love to see Tokyo. From pictures or videos I’ve seen it just seems like a beautiful country. I would love to go back and have more time to see Europe. I want to particularly see more of the World War II history — Poland, Germany, France and the [United Kingdom]. We did some military shows there, but we were kind of relegated to the bases. It was quick-turnaround stuff. To travel as a musician it’s kind of just airport, hotel and venue, so to be able to get back and experience more of the culture would be huge.
SR: Lastly, what do the next couple months have in store for you?
DC: I’m going to head back home to Nashville, where I live now, and then I’m going to head to New York for a little while. I’m doing a short run on Broadway with the show “Kinky Boots”. After that, I’m not really sure. We’ll either go back out on the road and keep supporting the EP, or if I pick up another acting gig I’ll do that. I think 2018 is going to be a busy calendar year creatively, and I’ll hopefully go some places I haven’t gone before.