Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Splash News Photo: James Durbin Rocks in Philadelphia, PA on August 17, 2011

If you thought the contestants of American Idol would get a break after a hectic season, let James Durbin be the first to tell you that their cross-country tour is no vacation.

“The average day pretty much starts off where the last one ends. We’ll finish up a show, after we do meet-and-greets, we hop on a bus, we drive to the next city, sometimes we’ll sleep, sometimes we’ll stay up and jam or watch wrestling or something,” he tells Wetpaint Entertainment in an exclusive interview. “We get to the next town and we get out of the bus, check into a hotel, get a couple of hours of sleep and then it’s off to the arena for press and meet-and-greets, and then we perform. It’s like clockwork, you know? A lot of the same stuff, different city.”

He also hasn’t seen his family for a while, which is wearing on the rocker. “I got to see them around show six, seven and eight, and we’re on show 32, so I have not seen them other than Skype and calling,” he says. “And that’s heavy.”

But don’t get Durbin wrong — tired or not, he is definitely living the dream. “Every time I’m on stage, it’s like, how can I complain?” he says. “I mean, I do complain about the rest of the day, because we all do, but as soon as I’m on stage everything goes away and it’s my time to be up there and show everybody who I am and what I can do. That’s the best part of it all.”

Durbin, who performs two numbers at each concert, gets a kick out of performing his first song, and making a surprising entrance. “For my first song. I do 'Sweet Child O’ Mine' and I come through the crowd so people are trying to figure out where I’m coming from, and that’s what probably gets the biggest pop,” he says. “When they finally notice, ‘Oh my God! James Durbin is standing right next to me!” that’s pretty cool.”

The boy who brought metal to American Idol is also currently hard at work on his debut album, which he hopes will come out around Thanksgiving. “I’m super pumped,” he tells us. “I’m listening to songs, I’m doing co-writes with bands that I love. My favorite band in the entire world is a band called Hardcore Superstar and they’re from Sweden. I’m having a conference call with them next week and they’re going to be writing two songs for me, so I’m freaking out.”

Don’t expect Durbin to take any of these opportunities for granted, because he understands the importance of what he’s achieved and wouldn’t trade it for anything. “This is what I’ve wanted my whole life,” he says. “I asked for it, and I got it. We build up such a momentum when we’re on the show, and how many past idols do you remember? I can barely remember all the winners now, so it’s tough. You get this big platform to jump your career off of, and it you don’t take it anywhere, it’s all a waste. There’s a reason I got it and it’s definitely not in vain.”

Credit: Access Atlanta Photo: James Durbin Is Still Upset That Lady Gaga Grabbed His Butt