Since claiming the American Idol crown back in Season 9, Lee DeWyze has carved out a recording career on his own terms. He left RCA Records after releasing his debut album, Live It Up, under his post-Idol recording contract. Lee is now with Vanguard Records, home to the likes of Barenaked Ladies and Chris Isaak. He’s set to release his second album, Frames, on August 20 and will embark on a summer tour starting June 1 with a performance at the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project kick off event in Chicago, Illinois.
Wetpaint Entertainment had the chance talk with Lee about all things American Idol and his involvement with the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project, an initiative launched with the Surfrider Foundation to clean beaches across the country.
During our chat, Lee DeWyze gave us his two cents about American Idol 2013, how Season 12 contestants stacked up, and who he’d like to see on the judging panel next year.
Wetpaint Entertainment: How did you get involved in the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project?
Lee DeWyze: Growing up in Chicago, frequenting the beaches was definitely something that was part of our family outing situation. After I moved to california, 3 years ago, we got to the beach a lot out there well. Having garbage on the beach or having an unclean beach or seeing because shut down because of that, it’s really disheartening. It’s one of those things where it’s like, if we don't’ get involved and do something now, where it be in five, 10 or 20 years from now. It’s definitely something that spoke tme. When they [Barefoot Wine] reached out to me to get involved, I definitely jumped at it.
What did you think of the talent on American Idol Season 12?
I think it’s funny, a lot of people watch American Idol and everyone always says, ‘Do you think they're a talented group?’ or ‘Do you think the winner was talented?’ And my question is always, ‘Compared to who or what?’ Being an artist and doing your thing, everyone is different, everyone's got their own kind of path. Everyone that was on the show this year had individuality and definitely were their own artist in their own right. I think Candice [Glover] is a sweetheart, and so is Kree. I think they’ll both have successful careers as long as they work hard and trust people around them.
What about the judges this year?
I thought the judge did a great job. I really don't care too much about Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey fighting or whatever. But I think that Mariah Carey is amazingly talented. Of course Randy [Jackson] is a badass, it’s sad to see him go. As long as they keep the show about the contestants and the music, and let the judges be second to that, and let the judges be the foundation to allow the contestants to get up there and do their thing, I think it’ll be great.
If you were contestant again, how do you think you would have done this year?
Oh man, I don’t know. I probably wouldn't have won, right? Candice won this year. I have no idea. I look at some of my favorite artists like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, and I think they wouldn’t have made it past Hollywood Week. I’m glad i wasn’t, because they're all very talented girls. I thought it was a great season though.
Who do you think should judge American Idol next year?
Harry Connick [Jr.] is an obvious answer. He did some mentoring my season as well, so it was great to see him back. I could give you some off the wall answers, like Tony Danza, Joan Rivers, and Danny Bonaduce. Those are my three judges picks [laughs]. If it were up to me, it’s hard. I think you should have one artist, a big record company producer, like a Jimmy [Iovine] or Rick Rubin type, and rotating contestants or winners who have been on the show. And then you get every aspect of it: You get the non-Idol artist, the producer guy, and the artist that's been on the show, and I think that’d be cool.
Would you ever consider being an American Idol judge?
If they asked me, I’d definitely do it. I think it’d be a great time.