As much as we love Kris Allen‘s acoustic covers (even when they’re interrupted by grumpy policemen), we’ve been awaiting his brand new tunes on his sophomore album Thank You Camellia, which comes out today (May 22). To celebrate Allen’s first release in three years, we had a lovely chat with American Idol‘s Season 8 champ, where he spoke quite freely with us on a number of matters: he tells us how he’s matured as a singer and songwriter since his debut, who (or what, we should say) Camellia is, and the coincidence of his Top 2 mate Adam Lambert releasing an album within a week of Kris dropping an album yet again.
Find out all about Kris Allen’s new music (and his super-cute French bulldog) in our Q&A below.
IDOLATOR: First things first — who is Camellia, and why are you thanking her?
KRIS ALLEN: It’s a place that stayed at here in LA. I made the record out here. It’s one of those places where I feel comfortable, my friends are there, they’ve given me a place to stay out here, which is really cool. It means a lot — it’s an emotional place. Going through a record is not the easiest thing in the world, it’s been that place where I can go and vent and be myself.
Is that the name of the property?
It’s the street name. Don’t go look it up! It’s an homage to my friends, they stay there… they have given a lot to help me, and this was my thank you to them. They’re amazing people.
Is that your dog on the album cover? Why did you choose that particular photo?
I wanted to take some photos with him, because we have never taken photos before, I thought it could end up being cool… he’s a pretty cool-looking dog. I’ve had him about a year and a half. He’s been a big part of my life, maybe that’s sad, but he’s my little boy. I wanted him to be a part of it somehow… this photo ended up being the best. I’m glad we went with it.
What’s his name?
Zorro, with the mask. Which is terrible, because he’s a French bulldog. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. I feel like he’s confused all the time.
Is there any concept behind the album?
The concept is… the songs are about love, whether it be good or bad or trying to figure it out. I write love songs and that’s the stuff that I go through. I wanted to make it relatable. Bringing the things I go through in my life to song form, and make people go, ‘I’ve been through that! Kris Allen is like me!’
Your lead single, “The Vision Of Love”, seems to follow the trend of all these It Gets Better-esque, self-empowerment songs. Do you think all these songs really can create change in teens’ lives?
I think music has been affecting people’s idea of things for a long time, and this is no different. That’s not exactly what the song is about, but it can be about it. I’m glad people are jumping on board with that, because it’s a problem, and I’m glad that I can help out in some way… in the small things in life, you can help somebody out, either that’s by feeding a homeless guy or telling some other kid to not pick on the other kid.
Kris Allen – “The Vision Of Love”
Your debut came out in 2009. How have u developed as a singer, a songwriter and a musician in the past 3 years?
I feel like I’ve grown the most throughout my life through this time as a songwriter, as a musician, as a singer, as a performer… I was on the road a lot, and I learned a lot from the people I was on the road with. When you’re opening for Keith Urban or Maroon 5 or Lifehouse or Barenaked Ladies, you’re gonna learn something from those people, and I watched the show every night. It’s like, ‘Well, they did that, I’m gonna do my own version of that.’ Every night, when we would open, maybe those people aren’t there to see me, but I’m gonna make you like my show. That was always the challenge. And I think I’ve grown as a songwriter, and I think that shows in the album.
You were a songwriter before American Idol, correct?
Absolutely, I was. And sometimes I can’t listen to those songs because I don’t think they’re any good. [Laughs.] I know some of the fans really like some of that stuff, but I’m very, very proud of this stuff. I think it’s more mature, I think it’s more thoughtful, the lyrics are more meaningful.
You’ve written songs for artists like Matthew Morrison and The Voice‘s Javier Colon.
And I may have another song on another record coming out!
How do you work for other artists as a songwriter?
Usually what happens is I’ll be writing for my record, and I’ll be writing with certain songwriters, and maybe the song just doesn’t end up on the record somehow, and not because it’s not good — it just doesn’t find its place on it somewhere. I’m proud that people pick it up and think it’s good enough, that they’ve made it their own…. It’s the proof that I’m growing as a songwriter and that people want to sing my stuff.
Your American Idol Season 8 buddy, Adam Lambert, had his sophomore album Trespassing come out around the same time as your sophomore album.
I think that was the way it was last time, too! I’m excited about his record, he’s obviously spent a lot of time on his record, and I really like the single and I can’t wait to hear the same stuff.
Think we’ll ever get to see you two collaborate on a song or live performance again?
That would be very cool. We do have some of the same fans, and if that happened, it’d be cool… we’re both so busy, but I wish nothing but good things for Adam, he’s a greart dude and a great singer.
Kris Allen’s Thank You Camellia is out now.