Being Bo Bice

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Let's face it, you can hardly ignore the cultural juggernaut that is "American Idol." And since "Idol" is such an imposing force, chances are you've probably heard the name Bo Bice.

Before "Idol" launched Bice in to the major-label mass-market pop act realm of music, he was just an Alabama boy with a band playing rock music in small clubs. But since he was runner up on the world's biggest talent contest show, that career has taken off.

Last year Bice released "The Real Thing" -- a straight-up pop album laced with a little rock 'n' roll courtesy of Bice's band SugarMoney.

The album's single, also called "The Real Thing," sounds more like pop-country than rock, revealing another of Bice's many influences. The album shot to number four on the Billboard charts its first week.

Now the organizers of the SEMO District Fair have tapped Bice and fellow "Idol" runner-up Josh Gracin to inject some youth into the fair's entertainment offerings. Bice will close out the fair Sept. 16, three nights after the fair's own "Heartland Idol" contest.

Bice phoned in from his home in Nashville to talk to OFF Magazine about music, God and the joys of being a dad.

So what have you been up to this summer? Touring? Studio work?

We're constantly doing a little bit of everything.

Touring-wise I've been touring since, well goodness, when was the show over? Since the end of the "Idol" tour I've been constantly going.

We're blessed to have constant work. This has just been another eventful year of the Lord just showing how balanced He can be.

My son is now about to turn one and this album has been great. I don't know what this year -- hold on -- (Bice pauses to call for his wife as his son tries to get in on the call) -- has in store, (finally Bice sits his son on his lap).

The gigging side's always there ... but on the recording side, with the help of my endorsements ... I just built a studio here in the backyard, and I spend a lot of time in my home studio when I'm home with my band and laying down tracks.

How long has your band been together?

Most of my band and crew -- roadies, security, band members -- have been with me for over 12 years. We're just the same ... as we've ever been. It's just all so crazy to me how fast this has moved. It's great to me to have just such great friends that stick by me and remember me and stick by me in my everyday life.

You're from Alabama. Are you living there now?

We moved to Nashville about a year ago. I say we, my wife lives here, I live on a tour bus. But I'll always be an Alabama boy, I joke around and say this a lot in interviews, this is about as far west and north as they'll ever get me. I'm a country boy.

So you live by country rules?

The way I was raised, it seems so cliché nowadays, but to me its the root and its the golden rule of life ... it's just treat people like you want to be treated.

When I get home I could care less if I was on Regis and Kelly or Craig Ferguson.

Are you glad the American Idol contest turned out the way it did? It seems that you've been doing well for yourself.

You have to understand, I'm a guy that came from being in the business and made a living in this business for 12 years ... then one day I was standing on television on stage on the biggest show that's hit in forever.

I was on stage saying, "They've got 85 million people watching this," and I'm a redneck kid from Alabama watching this.

I was turned down by record companies several times and I was selling CDs out of the trunk of my car.

To me they just kind of offered a chance to step up to the new plateau of doing my music on this level.

You invited CMT into your home for a special after "Idol." Why do you like to open your life up to fans?

I think so people get to see more of an inside view of what my life's about, not just that guy on TV or the "American Idol" guy. I even get on the Web site, bobice.com, and chat with people sometimes.

To me it's preventive maintenance. The way you take care of yourself and your career is to tell yourself, "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for every single fan I've got." You take care of every fan like a mustard seed, you want your seed to grow.

You sound like a rather religious person?

I've always been a Christian and I've always been a believer, but I was wild when I was younger, I always loved the Lord and followed the Lord, but when I was younger I didn't really walk with Him.

But I was lucky enough ... I found a new relationship with Jesus Christ, and the relationship motivated me to go to church.

Still to this day, I don't do everything right ... but I understand that my faults are what makes me me.

It seems the songs you write with SugarMoney are probably a little more southern rock, a little less pop. What's your true musical passion, pop or rock?

That's the cool thing about this album. Clive Davis was the executive producer, but there were many different producers and songwriters that had to do with the making of it, people like Richie Sambora.

Clive put our and released 200,000 copies of the dual disc, which gave me the opportunity to work with my band ...

It's such a diverse CD, from the stuff that's on the regular CD to what on the dual disc. I love all kind of music. I love STP and Velvet Revolver is one of my favorite bands, and I love the old country music. I love all these different things, so to me when you just dive into one genre you're putting a tag on yourself and saying "I'm only going to do this."

You've not only limited yourself, you've limited your creativity.

On the next album I'd like to go more rootsy, more country, more southern rock Bo. Now I've shown people we can rock, now I want to show people we can groove and twist and shout and whatever else.

Bo Bice was interviewed by OFF editor Matt Sanders.

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