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Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery Dish on Life After ‘Idol’

Mike Coppola, Getty Images

Life has changed drastically for Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery in the last few months. Since Scotty was named this year’s ‘American Idol‘ winner, and Lauren the runner-up, both teenagers have been focusing entirely on their careers. First, they kicked off the American Idols LIVE! Tour with fellow finalists from the year, and now they’re working on their debut albums. The Boot sat down with both Scotty and Lauren before the Nashville stop of the trek to get the scoop on their rapid rise to fame, along with Lauren’s recovery from her big fall.

Where were you this time last year?

Scotty: At this time last year, I would have been on the baseball field. We have spring ball for the school, and summer ball, getting ready for the school. So, I would have been on the baseball field pitching away.

And where are you a year later?

Scotty: Yesterday, I was in the studio, working away and recording some songs for the new album. We’ve got two or three done. I’ve definitely been writing. For this album, I don’t think any of my original stuff will be on it, because it’s happened so quick for me, and it’s rapid-fire. We’re definitely still writing and jamming out on the bus.

How does picking songs for the album differ from picking them for the series?

Scotty: Totally different. For the album, I look for songs I can relate to, so I can feel it and sing my heart out with it. Through that the audience that listens to the album will appreciate that and feel it as well. For the show, you’ve got to pick songs that you can sing and that you like, but the audience has to like it. ‘Idol’ is a voting show, so if the audience doesn’t like your song, you’re done for and you’re going home next week. It’s definitely a whole different thought process when you’re going through and picking songs for the album versus the show.

When can fans expect the album to be out?

Scotty: Probably sometime early fall, that’s when we’re looking at getting it out.

Lauren, you were also working on your album yesterday?

Lauren: Yes. My album has a lot of different types of songs. It’s got some sweet ballads, with some really good stories, then some really fast songs that people can get into and dance to. That’s my favorite type of song. I hope everyone likes it.

Have you been able to write any lately?

Lauren: Actually, yes. I have had two writing sessions with Brett James and Luke Laird. One of the songs that we wrote is [a] possible song that may make the album. I feel like we write really well together. We’re in the process of recording, then we’ll have to listen to all of them and decide which ones make the album, but I have recorded one that I wrote so far. We’ll see if it makes it.

Is it difficult to learn the songs when you’re in the studio?

Lauren: I actually have the best memory in the world. I can hear a song one time and remember it. Maybe not the melody, but the words. They get stuck in my head. That’s the easiest thing for me. That’s usually everyone else’s’ struggle to remember the words. When we were in Hollywood Week and we were having to learn all these new songs, everyone was stressing about their lyrics, and I wasn’t really worried about it because I can learn a song in an hour. I listen to it three or four times and I can have it memorized.

That was really helpful when I was recording in the studio, because when you get songs and you’re listening to them and having to memorize them, it’s a lot harder to read it off the sheet and get into it, than already having it in your head. I had an advantage, because I was really good at remembering the words. The only thing I do is listen to the demos, so I could hear the melodies. That’s the problem that I have sometimes, is remembering the melody.

Scotty, the Idol tour recently took you to your hometown of Raleigh, N.C.. How was that show?

Scotty: It was incredible. They were seated all the way to the rafters, and it was a great town to go to, for everybody. All the Idols had a great time there, saying how energetic and crazy it was there. It was definitely nice to get back and see friends and family that I’ve missed for so long. I could spot them out in the crowd; I’d give them a little wave. It was definitely really nice.

How’s life on the road?

Scotty: It’s a lot different than life back home. The bunks are a little shaky. It’s all good and fun. Jamming out with the guitars and having a good time. Bojangles catered the bus after the Charlotte show, and we had a good time with that. Life on the road is a lot of fun. It’s something that every artist dreams of: touring the country and selling out arenas. This is really cool to be doing this.

Lauren: It’s a little different to be on the road, than to be on the show. We sleep on the bus, and that can be a little challenging. It’s just hard to sleep. It’s not that big of a deal, except for the sleeping thing. It’s really important for us to get enough sleep, to be able to perform well on the stage. Other than that, it’s a blast.

What’s your first thought when you walk on stage?

Lauren: When I get on a stage, it’s like my body, I don’t even know, it flips a switch and it’s like I’m in stage mode. Then I walk off the stage and I’m back to non-stage mode, I guess. [laughs] I’m more comfortable on the stage than anywhere.

Scotty: I’m always looking out into the crowd and judging if they’re up on their feet, or if I’ve got to work them to get them up. I’m thinking it’s great to be here. It really is. It’s amazing that I get paid to do what I do.

Lauren, how’s your ankle doing after your stage fall last month?

Lauren: It’s good. I’m in heels now. Well, sort of heels, they’re wedges. It was just a sprain, and I was supposed to wear the boot a little longer than I did but I took it off. Because I’m all about moving around on the stage, and I couldn’t do that in that boot, so I took it off and walked on it on the off days. It hurt a lot at first, but the more I walked on it, the stronger it got. Sometimes the doctors tell you the best thing for you to do is walk on it, because the longer you don’t walk on it, it gets weaker and weaker. I worked it out until it was better.

Is it intimidating to bring the Idol tour to Nashville?

Scotty: There’s definitely a lot of those people that I’m looking to impress, but I don’t think I should look at it as pressure. I look at it as incentive to go out there and have more fun. That’s when you put on a good show, when you have fun out there and people see that and feel that, so I’m going to go out there and have a good ole time.

Lauren: I’m a little nervous about tonight, because this is where my record label is, and all the really, really important people who are a part of my career now. My whole family is here. My home is in Georgia, so technically, Atlanta was my home show, because that’s the state I live in, but most of my family is coming here, because Nashville is closer to where I live. I’m nervous about that too, because I know them. I perform better in front of people that I don’t know. It’s just makes it different.

Also, this is where I auditioned, so this is where everything that has happened to me started in this building. I didn’t really think about it when we first walked in and then I was like, “Wait. This is the Bridgestone, right? This is where I auditioned.” I had this 10 seconds where I was just looking around, because the last time I was here I didn’t see any of this stuff. I was in the arena with 16,000 other people hoping to be the next American Idol.

What was it like to audition in Nashville?

Lauren: I had tried out for Chattanooga Idol, which is this thing in Chattanooga where if you win you get to call all the lines and you get to go straight to the judges [at the Nashville auditions]. I didn’t win, I got like sixth place. The guy that won, he cut the line, I watched him walk up to the table and not make it. It scared me so bad. I was like, “Mom, let’s go. He beat me by five places, so let’s just get out of here.” I got up and walked away, because I was real upset, but my mom talked me back into, thank goodness, because I got runner up, so I’m pretty happy with that.

You’ve both made videos for your singles, what can fans expect to see?

Scotty: It’s pretty much a simple performance. It’s a summertime, barbecue, Fourth of July kind of thing with fireworks and hot dogs. It’s a good ole community thing. From what I’ve heard from the Nashville people, it’s a little different in this town than it is in L.A. But we found a little spot of country in L.A. to do it. I wouldn’t have done it in the concrete jungle out there, if I was surrounded by skyscrapers. It was definitely nice. A lot of fun.

Lauren: The song’s about my mom, and I know everything about my mom, so it was easy to sing about her. She was there, watching me through the screen, and that was real comforting. She’s always with me, so it would be weird for her not to be there. I didn’t think it was really hard, because I’m used to cameras being around, because of ‘American Idol.’ It was different because I was singing to a camera lens, but this time there wasn’t anyone on the other end watching. It wasn’t live. We would stop and do it again. That was a little strange to me. I got to get my hair and makeup done, and they did a beautiful job. I’m excited for everyone to see it.

How did your mom react the first time she heard ‘Like My Mother Does’?

Lauren: She cried. I cried the first time I heard it, because my mom went through the whole experience with me and she didn’t get any credit for it. Every time I was upset or wanted to go home, she was always there to give me a hug, and I feel like Scotty and I both have that advantage, to have our mom be there. Of course, at points it can be a little annoying, because she’s always got her opinion, but her opinion matters more than anyone’s, even though I disagree, she’s almost always right. I was really fortunate.

Do you keep in touch with any of the Idol judges?

Lauren: Steven Tyler and I have the same music lawyer, so I’m sure I’ll see him at some point. Jennifer [Lopez], I heard her off-camera one time say that she loves country music because it tells stories. That was really interesting to me, because every time someone has asked me why I like country music, that’s what I’ve always said. It was cool to hear her say that, because she doesn’t sing country music.

What was it like to work with Lady Gaga?

Scotty: Lady Gaga, she was definitely interesting. She’s a unique artist and that makes her who she is, so I respect her for that. But I think we have two totally different takes on the ways we want to go with our music. It was fun. I was definitely laughing through most of it.

What did you learn from the whole process?

Scotty: Be me. Don’t change me. I could’ve gone out there and sang country one week and Frank Sinatra one week to change it up and show that I could do something different. But, that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to sing country music and I wanted to stay true to my roots and what I grew up with. I did that and it worked out for me.

I’ve learned a lot and I’ve still got plenty more to learn. I’m young and this is pretty early for a teenager to get in this business, but you’ve got to pick the songs and you’ve got to relate to the audience, and you’ve got to do a lot of things behind-the-scenes to make things go right and to make things smooth. We had a team meeting with the guys at the label and my attorney and business manager … to lay down the ground work. We set goals up on the boards and we were like, “This is what we want to do, and this is how we’re going to get there.” You can never really plan out stuff in the music business, from what I’ve learned. Hopefully, it works out.

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