For a heart-stopping moment last week, it seemed like Kris Allen, winner of this year's American Idol, wouldn't even make it to L.A.'s Staples Center in time for his afternoon set of AmIdol press interviews. Sadly, he was flying back from his grandmother's funeral (he even missed his Conan O'Brien performance the night before due to the tragedy), and while the other nine Idols were already busy chatting with the media, Kris was still racing to the venue straight from LAX. All reporters had actually been warned he might not show up in time, much to our dismay.
But thankfully Kris made it, and he was in surprisingly good spirits--and still as nice and astoundingly humble as ever--despite his recent loss. And thankfully I got a few pre-concert minutes of kick-awesome conversation with him, during which we chatted about how it felt to be headlining one of America's biggest concert venues (although he humbly refused to consider himself the "headliner"), his new Killers cover, why "No Boundaries" got dropped from his tour setlist, and, most memorably, his grandmother. The interview was short and sweet, just like Kris.
The video of our chat is below; please note it took place in an extremely crowded room teeming with about 50 very gabby journalists and VJs all conducting interviews at once, so some of my questions aren't all that audible. Therefore I've also included a handy transcript of the entire interview to help you follow along (scroll down for that):
REALITY ROCKS: So Kris, about two months we were across the street [at the neighboring Nokia Theater] when you had the surprise of your life--well, not the surprise, but the shock of your life, judging from the look on your face--when confetti rained down on you and you won. So now you're basically where the finale took place, and now you're headlining [the Staples Center]. How does it feel?
KRIS: It feels good! You know...I don't know...I don't think of it as "the headliner." I just think of it as, "I go on after Adam."
REALITY ROCKS: Stop it! I chastised you about this before [in a previous interview]!
KRIS: I know! You hate me!
REALITY ROCKS: I don't hate you!
KRIS: You're like, "Dang it! Why can't he just say he deserved this?"
REALITY ROCKS: I just want you to accept that you've won!
KRIS: No, no, I am accepting that.
REALITY ROCKS: And for the record, I don't hate you.
KRIS: I know you don't hate me.
REALITY ROCKS: I love you! I'm happy for you.
KRIS: Well, everything's good. It feels great to be just, like, playing in arenas and singing for thousands and thousands of people every night.
REALITY ROCKS: Do you ever have an out-of-body experience where you look out at the thousands of people and think, "I can't believe this is happening to me"?
KRIS: I don't think it's happened quite yet. I have a feeling it's coming up, though. Now that we're kind of getting in the swing of things, I think it'll happen pretty soon.
REALITY ROCKS: So I wanted to ask you about the new song you're doing. It's my favorite Killers song ["All These Things That's I've Done"], I'm very happy you're doing it. How did that come about?
KRIS: Well you know, it kind of came about..."No Boundaries" was kind of one of those songs that just kind of didn't work in the set anymore, and so, I don't know...we decided to change it up a little bit.
REALITY ROCKS: Are you kind of relieved to no longer have to do "No Boundaries"? It's kind of a hard song to sing. It's very high in the register.
KRIS: It is. But I don't know, it's just one of those decisions that turned out good. [looks sheepish]
REALITY ROCKS: I think the Killers song is good because it's got kind of an evangelical quality. It's definitely got an "everybody sing along" quality.
KRIS: Exactly! Yeah.
REALITY ROCKS: So I don't know how you're finding time to even do your damn album, when obviously you're on a pretty tight schedule! You have an album to put out--so how are you managing that?
KRIS: I don't get days off! Some people do. You know, I spend a lot of time doing the...wherever we're at, if we have a day off I fly to L.A., and kind of do writing and recording sessions and stuff like that. So yeah, I'm spending a lot of time recording and writing on my days off.
REALITY ROCKS: Can you reveal any more details that you haven't been able to reveal yet, about who you're working with or what direction you're going in?
KRIS: I don't have any particular details...I mean, I don't think anything's changed, really. [19 Entertainment person summons Kris for next interview...boo!]
REALITY ROCKS: Well, I need to wrap it up, but I do want to say that a lot of my readers have been tweeting and they want to extend their condolences about the loss in your family, as do I.
KRIS: Aw, thank you so much. I appreciate that.
REALITY ROCKS: There's a lot of love out there for you.
KRIS: Yeah, yeah.
REALITY ROCKS: Is it going to be difficult for you to perform [in light of your grandmother's recent death]? Sorry to be personal...
KRIS: Oh no, it's OK.
REALITY ROCKS: But when something is going on in your personal life, but the show must go on...how are you dealing with that?
KRIS: My grandmother was pretty much my biggest fan. We'd go to her house and she'd have, like, pounds of newspaper clippings and stuff like that. So I know she would want me to perform as well as I have, or even better.
REALITY ROCKS: It's wonderful that she got to witness you winning.
REALITY ROCKS: Well, I'm glad that you're here, glad that you made it here.
KRIS: Yeah, me too!
REALITY ROCKS: And have a good show...HEADLINING! Say it! Say you're the headliner!
KRIS: OK, I'm the headliner! Geez! [laughs]