Much has happened since David Cook won the seventh season of American Idol in 2008 and subsequently made chart history with a record-breaking fourteen debuts on Billboard’s Digital Songs chart.
These days the talented rocker with the fiery vocals and searing songwriting skills has entered an exciting new chapter in his career marked by a newfound creative freedom and the maturity that comes with having a lot of life thrown at you. In the wake of his American Idol success, Cook endured an emotional roller coaster marked by career highs mixed with the devastating personal tragedy of losing his beloved brother Adam to brain cancer. Cook toured relentlessly and released his second RCA Records album, This Loud Morning, but when the dust settled, he found himself craving a major change. He discovered what he was looking for in Nashville’s songwriting community and relocated to Music City in June 2012.
The result is an impressive new collection of tunes teeming with a restless creative spirit yet anchored by an emotional gravitas that is compelling. “Where Do We Go” showcases the power and range in Cook’s voice as well as his insightful songwriting. “A lot of my favorite love songs are us-against-the-world love songs, almost postapocalyptic and this kind of falls into that. We started with this dub step thing that kind of cycles throughout the song, so I really just wanted the lyrics to have that same pulse,” he says of the tune he cowrote with Andy Waldeck and Andy Skib. “The song talks about this couple and it’s posing the question: ‘Where do we go when we hit bottom?’ I’ve always found an inherent romanticism when you’ve got this person and no matter what, you’re together, but it’s also okay to be unsure sometimes and to be vulnerable.”
“Eyes on You” is an ear-grabbing up-tempo song that Cook wrote with Waldeck and Chris Reardon. The incendiary guitar provides a blazing accent to Cook’s vocals. “It’s weird in the sense that so many elements are outside of what I think people would perceive me to be as a writer, musician and a performer,” he admits, “but it has been pretty consistently a crowd favorite every night. It’s out of our comfort zone, but the crowd really responds to it.”
Cook even recorded his own distinctive take on Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” that is a fan favorite at his live shows. “We put this very quick demo together of this song and ended up loving the vibe of it so much,” Cook says, “and it matched what we were doing with the new songs, so we were, like, ‘Let’s just hold onto it.’ I would want to put it on the record, which is rare for me because I’m usually not one of those people who likes to put covers on records. We work so hard on originals, I don’t want to take space from an original, but with this song, there is something special about it for us.”
Cook has been self-producing the new material and enjoying every minute. “I’m loving wearing that hat. It goes back to being a control freak, I’m sure,” Cook says with a laugh. “When someone else produces, it’s the equivalent of painting this great painting, getting halfway done and then giving it to somebody else to finish. I love kind of being able to see the whole thing through and be a part of that process. I love that because you are that much more invested in the end result, and as a performer to be able to go out and play the song and have that belief in the song because I was there from start to finish, it just makes it that much more gratifying when the audience replies in kind.”
Once the American public got a taste of Cook’s talent, it was obvious he wouldn’t be needing a day job. His self-titled RCA debut reached Number 3 on the Billboard album chart, spawning two Top 20 singles, the platinum “Light On” and “Come Back to Me.” The album sold more than one million copies and made Cook an in-demand touring artist. He followed up with his sophomore album, This Loud Morning, produced by Matt Serletic (Rob Thomas, matchbox twenty, Collective Soul), which debuted in the top ten. Cook’s stats are impressive. Collectively, his songs have sold over five million tracks and ringtones, including his two platinum- and one gold-certified singles, but the numbers that mean the most to Cook are his charitable endeavors. He has raised over one million dollars for brain tumor research and funding and traveled thousands of miles to perform on USO Tours for soldiers in both Kuwait and Iraq.