With his new album "Hold Back My Heart" to arrive in U.S. on June 23, Michael Johns shares to AceShowbiz about what fans can expect from the forthcoming record. In this exclusive interview, he spills the bean on his upcoming headlining tour as well.
Besides, Michael who once competed on "American Idol" season seven also makes comments on this season's winner of the FOX's reality singing competition, Kris Allen, and its runner-up, Adam Lambert. Greater than that, the singer, who has a new single "Heart on My Sleeve" available for digital purchase on iTunes, gives tips to those auditioning for the next season of Idol.
ASB: Does the title of 'American Idol' finalist still follow you around these days?
Michael Johns: It does but I'm not one to shy away from it. I mean it was such a great platform and really got me a new fan base. I would never bite the hand that fed me.
ASB: You were touted to be a good band vocalist. Why did you choose to go solo eventually?
Michael Johns: Was I? I can't remember that. I loved being in a band and getting in a room and 5 guys writing. There's an energy that can't be described. However, after years and years of doing that and 3 record deals all went south, it was time for a change. I got together with a great friend who just happens to love the same music I wanted to do and was an amazing Producer. It's so hard as you get older to keep a band together other things to priority Kids, Marriage etc. This time round I wanted to do it my way.
ASB: You have been offered numerous record deals since your elimination in Idol. What made you decide to join Downtown Records?
Michael Johns: I never entertained even signing a deal with anyone till my record was complete. I had an absolute vision of what I wanted this record to sound like and I didn't want anyone looking over my shoulder AnR'n it. I took a risk and backed what we were doing and trusted that if we made a great record then we could find a great label to partner with. There were a few that came to the table but Downtown had everything I wanted. A great roster an amazing President who has a passion for music like no one else and a young hungry staff who loved the album. It was a perfect match.
ASB: About your new album "Hold Back My Heart", any collaboration with other singers that we should know?
Michael Johns: Yeah there was. I got a call from producer/songwriter John Shanks and he said he had a song he had co written with James Morrison. I am a big fan of James, and he said it was a song that would absolutely suit my soulful voice. I heard the tune and it really spoke to me. I had to cut it.
ASB: When will you shoot a music video for the first single from the album,"Heart on My Sleeve"? How will it fit to the song?
Michael Johns: We are in talks about that right now. It looks like it will be in NYC in the coming weeks. I have a storyline for it that I think will totally fit the songs lyrics. I'm not one of those guys that needs to be an actor in a video so the story just kind of happens around me.
ASB: We heard that you got Dolly Parton for song-writing assistance, is that true? Is she also involved in the making of your new album?
Michael Johns: (Laughing) I wish! No that's not true. Dolly is a legend no other way to say it. She had said on the show and after that she wanted to work with me. I couldn't believe it and I hope our schedules match up one day to collaborate.
ASB: What do you want to achieve with this album?
Michael Johns: I really want it to bring the joy of soul music to as many people as it can. There hasn't really been anything that's sounded like this in a while so I hope a whole new audience may fall in love with rock/soul music like I did. Go and discover the amazing Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Sam Cooke and Joe Cocker if they have never heard them before. Hopefully if people like the record I'll get to keep touring and keep making records for a longtime.
ASB: When will you hit the road for promotional effort for your album?
Michael Johns: I have already, every week I seem to be somewhere. I believe however, we go on the road after July 4th and then a full tour starting August 1st.
ASB: Which side are you in about this season's Idol winner Kris Allen whose victory was argued?
Michael Johns: I think Kris is great and I thought Adam was good too. I picked Kris in the finale I just thought America would relate to him more. I think he'll make a good record and have a career for sure. I hope America voted for talent and not what they did or didn't think of Adam's sexuality. I mean come on people it's 2009!
ASB: Making it to the top 8 yourself, do you have message for those who want to try their lucks on the next season of Idol?
Michael Johns: I would say if you're in it for the right reasons and not the fame game then go ahead. Look Idol has proven itself over the years as a real career builder. It is the biggest platform right now and if you stay true to yourself it can really change your life.
ASB: Which fellow Idol season 7 contestant are you still in close contact with?
Michael Johns: Really we all stay in touch. It may have been a rare season I don't know but we were all friends. Brooke White and I have worked together since. We sang a duet I wrote with her in mind called 'Life is Okay'. I also co-wrote a song on her record called 'Little Bird', which she sounds amazing on. David Cook and I speak weekly and [Jason] Castro, Carly [Smithson], Chikezie and Archie [David Archuleta] see each other a bunch.
ASB: You are still rooting for Australia. Say you are to collaborate with one of its artists, who do you think it will be?
Michael Johns: Oh man there is bunch I would love to sing with Bernard Fanning from Powderfinger. Mark Lazotte is a great singer songwriter too. Even though he's not a true Aussie but Neil Finn is one of if not my favorite songwriters of all time so that would be cool.
Look forward to Michael Johns being picked up as AceShowbiz's Artist of the Week on June 22.