On July 3rd, a really good interview with Clay Aiken was printed in the Houston Chronicle. The interviewer, Joey Guerra, actually asked interesting questions and elicited some great responses from Clay -- who was his usual funny, chatty self:
Clay Aiken embraces his inner dork
By JOEY GUERRA
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Clay Aiken — despite the stylishly shaggy 'do — still isn't hip.
"I'm never going to be, and I'm fine with that. We all must embrace our inner dork," he says with a laugh.
Aiken has still managed a successful post-American Idol career as the soundtrack of choice for enthusiastic grandmothers. He performs Friday with the Houston Symphony, and he doesn't expect to see a lot of people his age in the crowd.
"People always come up to me and say, 'My grandmother's your biggest fan,' " Aiken, 28, says. "There's a misconception among these ladies that I'm cool and hip and now. And they think that by liking me, it makes them cool and hip and now.
"But shhh. We aren't going to tell them that I'm not cool and hip at all."
An affable Aiken took time to talk about his future as a talk-show host (maybe), turkey basters (keep reading) and how Claymates saved Jericho from TV extinction (seriously).
Q: Fans still get worked up over you. What's with the enduring Claymania?
A: I don't get it. I don't know why. They don't see me right now in my pajamas, with my hair all messed up, one contact out. There's nothing to be excited about, honestly.
Q: What's the most unique gift you've received from a fan?
A: You mean turkey-baster unique? Like that? Because I've gotten one of those. Let's just let you sit on that for a minute. (Brief pause.) And there it is.
The show Jericho . . . I loved it. I started blogging about it on my fan site. It got canceled, and I blogged about how upset I was. I said, "The Claymates can do anything. How do we get this show back on the air?"
Honestly, within a week they had organized a campaign amongst Jericho fans to send nuts to CBS. It kind of started in that place. And it's back on the air! It just blows my mind.
Q: Do you feel that Aiken love in Texas?
A: Texas is really a tough market for pop. I think sometimes the fans don't understand, and they think I hate Texas. I love Texas. It's just people there don't love me that much. You want me to come, you've got to come to the show!
Q: Any songs that didn't make the cut on A Thousand Different Ways?
A: Things other than covers. Sorry, I'm being way too honest today. How do I say this politically correctly? I was strongly encouraged by other sources to do an album of covers. There was the feeling that it might be successful because there'd been success with Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow doing covers. I guess the argument against that would be I don't have the reputation that Rod Stewart has. I really don't have the credibility that he has, so there's no reason for me to do them.
Q: Do you like the disc at all?
A: It did turn out to be something I was really proud of. My mom's always told me, 'Take lemons . . .' I think we really did that.
Q: Are you itching to do new material?
A: The goal for the next album is to go with one producer. The person we picked is very credible, has won Grammys and has really done an eclectic mix of stuff. The hope is that we'll be able to find really great songs that suit me and produce them in a way that . . . makes me hip without trying too hard. I'm sorry I'm teasing you, but you're getting more than anybody else.
Q: Do you hear anything on Top 40 radio that you can relate to?
A: This Rihanna girl — she's got a great voice. I really think she deserves to be where she is. . . . (But) what happened to Whitney Houston on the radio? Not literally — let's not go there — but what happened to that kind of stuff on Top 40? I think nowadays radio doesn't care how good someone sings. They just care whether or not people can fake having sex while standing up dancing to it. That's all they want.
Q: What was the first record you purchased?
A: I got in big trouble when I was 6 or 7. They had that Columbia House, seven albums for a penny or something like that. I was young enough to not really know what I was doing, and I stuck the little penny on. You want to talk about being completely not cool and hip? One of the ones that I remember was Crystal Gayle. God help me. It's somewhere around the house.
I don't know if that's my first album, but it's the one that I remember — and it's got a better story.
Q: What one record would people be surprised to find in your collection?
My brother's a Marine, and he's into this group called Breaking Benjamin. I don't know much about them, but I own that. I wanted to kind of see what he was listening to. There's a song called Diary of Jane that I think is pretty good. . . . Breaking Benjamin is going to kill themselves because they got mentioned in the same article (as) Clay Aiken. There goes the rep.
Q: You've got a great sense of humor. Ever consider hosting a talk show?
A: I'd be great. There are probably 15, 17 different shows I could pitch. One of the basic ones would just be going around and letting America tell their story. Everybody has a story, if you let them tell it. I'd love to do Charles Kuralt's On the Road again, somehow. I loved that.
But (by) the same token, I'd love to have a variety show. Like Andy Williams or Carol Burnett or Donny and Marie. I remember my mom watched the Mandrell sisters' show like it was some sort of religion.
Q: If you're the anti-cool singing star, who's the ultimate pop hipster?
A: I think that Justin Timberlake's going to have that market cornered for a while. And I honestly believe that he's extremely talented. He can believably pull out an album like (FutureSex/LoveSounds). I'm not a huge fan of that one, but I'm a fan of his.
Q: Will we ever see you bring SexyBack?
A: I'm actually going to do — God help me for saying this — with the Houston Symphony, a little bit of SexyBack. We're going to do a little medley of songs that people wouldn't expect to hear with an orchestra. I know that it's not going to be cool. I have no problem making fun of myself.
I could never pull songs like that off without knowing where my place is, and it's not as Justin Timberlake. Thank God we have him. I'm happy to be the person who gets the old ladies covered.
Stripedshirts had given us a heads-up that this interview would be happening. She has been in correspondence with Mr. Guerra, and was fortunate to receive 4 excerpts of answers that were saved but not put into the original article. Thank you stripedshirts! Wonderful Extras:
On today's music:
`If it doesn't have a melody or a hook, I really can't get into it. If it's just people screaming, I get confused. It reminds me of my childhood too much.''
``The first preset on my radio is the top 40 station, and I try my best to listen to it. But I find myself switching away and going to the AC station or the country station or the Christian station. There are so few real songs on top 40 anymore. And so few real singers. I'd love to try to find a middle ground between songs that are great, hopefully good singing and production that's current.
``I think nowadays radio doesn't care how good someone sings. They just care whether or not people can fake having sex while standing up dancing to it. That's all they want.
On being roommates with Kimberley Locke:
``She and I became really good friends. I think she was probably a better roommate than I was. I was lazy and kind of messy. She's very meticulous and likes to get her stuff done on time. She would wake up at 6:30 in the morning. By the time she was back from the gym, I was just rolling out of bed, sitting in my pajamas watching TV. She would say, 'Clean up this kitchen! Leaving dirty dishes in the sink.'''
On Idol: The Musical:
``I just heard about it not too long ago. I don't know what to think about it. I think it's kind of flattering, a little bit. Someone put some money into it. They think people are going to show up. I kind of want to see it. That way if they do make fun of me, they'll have to deal with me sitting right there. And then I will boo them loudly. :hehe
On his Broadway aspirations:
``When you grow up in N. Carolina, you don't really think about being a pop singer. Maybe you might be a country singer. But when you sing in school, the thing that you do is theater. I never really had any aspirations to do (Broadway). But I'd never really seen a real Broadway play until after I got off of Idol. When I watch them, I'm like, 'Wow - people think I can do this?' I've seen Wicked, and I'm like, 'Whoa!'''
Joey also included this lovely remark about his interview w/ Clay:
He has been warm, funny and sincere. This recent interview was particularly entertaining. I often laughed out loud, as did he.
Yes, Joey . . . He is quite an entertaining and charming man.
And not bad looking either!