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American Idol Interview: Tim Urban

May 04, 2010 07:09 AM by Christine McDow


After Tim Urban was voted off of American Idol a couple of weeks ago he gave an interview where he discussed his time on the show, his future and the competition.  How did he take getting voted off?  Click below to read his interview.  And then let us know if you think it was time for him to go, or if he should have stuck around longer.

Question: Last year we heard a lot about the religious backgrounds of some of the people, Chris and Danny and Michael, and how that shaped them.  But you have an extensive religious background, too, and if you could elaborate a little bit more about that.  Especially some of the stuff—you were home schooled and you’ve never done liquor, and that you were a relief worker overseas – kind of talk a little bit about how religion has maybe shaped you as a singer and a person.

Tim Urban: My personal belief has really shaped pretty much every aspect of my life.  I grew up in a very Christian home, and that set of morals and just that upbringing has shaped me musically, has shaped me as a person, and just, I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to explain because it’s pretty much who I am.  So it’s not just a part of my life.  That’s why it’s kind of hard to explain it, because it’s just who I am.

Question: Maybe you can elaborate a little bit more about your relief work then.  How long were you in Somalia, and what did you do there?


Tim Urban: I actually didn’t go to Somalia.  I went to South Africa.  I was in South Africa in Swaziland.  It was last summer or two summers ago, and I was there on a relief trip taking nutritional products to some orphanages there.  I was there for, I believe it was 10 days, and I visited around 20-some orphanages.

That was a really amazing and kind of gut-wrenching experience.  But yeah, that’s one of the reasons that I was excited about American Idol Gives Back, because I had the opportunity to experience that first hand and to see that being on the show is helping those situations.  It’s really cool.

Question: What were your feelings about VoteForTheWorst, which had you as their favorite contestant by nine straight weeks.

Tim Urban: I really have no comment about that Website.  I’m not excited that I was on their Website.  I think that it’s really not anything that anybody should be proud of.  I really didn’t like being on there, and basically I was working my hardest to get off of it.  Yes, I’m actually kind of sad that I was on that Website at all.

Question: A week or two ago Simon Cowell complimented you on your attitude in the competition, that you took everything positively, that you applied everything that they’d said.  What did it mean to you that they recognized not only how you grew as a performer along the way, but that they also appreciated the way that you handled yourself and came across.

Tim Urban: That’s actually something that was my goal on the show.  It was not just to improve as an artist, but to just be a very good contestant, and to take what everybody was saying, and to just treat the situation—not let it get me down, but to take what they were saying and work at it and improve, but also, not to really complain or to talk back.  Just take the criticism and work from it.  It was cool to get that recognition about that.  It’s something that I’m very proud of.

Question: You said on stage that you enjoyed performing, but how did you deal with the pressures stemming from singing to millions?

Tim Urban: You know, I tried not to think about the millions of people watching.  I tried to just focus on the crowd that was in the room.  The energy was so great every time you stepped out there to perform.  That’s all I was really trying to worry about.  Just the audience and the room, because really it’s hard to connect through a camera to the people back home, so I just tried to worry about the audience out there.

Question: If you could turn back time and maybe show America one thing that you wish they could have seen about you, what would it be?

Tim Urban: That’s kind of hard to say, because by the last couple of weeks, I really showed America the kind of artist that I would be.  There were a couple of weeks where I was just kind of groping; I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.  But then when I finally settled down and just let myself be myself on the show, I think it really showed American the kind of artist that I want to be.  Looking back I really feel like I did what I wanted to do.

Question: Did you and Simon make amends a few weeks ago, because it seemed like all of a sudden he was very nice to you.

Tim Urban: You know, it was funny.  Simon Cowell and I never had a problem.  I actually didn’t have a problem with Simon’s critiques.  I thought he was just speaking his mind and I took that and tried to use it and apply it.  It was cool that he recognized that I was working towards that stuff, and that was really encouraging, but we never had a problem to begin with.

Question: I was talking to Carrie Underwood last night at Idol Gives Back, and she said she was excited to meet you guys.  Did you get that opportunity last night?

Tim Urban: I didn’t.  I actually walked right past her.  When I was walking off the stage, she was walking on to the stage, and I walked right past her, but I was getting pulled away to go start doing the after show interviews and stuff, so I didn’t actually get to meet her, which I really kind of sad about.  I hoping I get the opportunity to meet her in the future.

Question: So are you going to keep wearing the necklace she gave you?

Tim Urban: I am.  I love that necklace.  There’s a lot of sentimental value, and I really like the necklace.  So, yes, I’ll definitely keep wearing it.

Question: We had talked earlier about the possibility of you doing Disney Channel, and now there’s been some suggestions that maybe Fox might be interested, or some people are suggesting you would be a good fit for Glee.  Are you thinking music for your future, or the possibility of TV, or what are you thinking for your future?

Tim Urban: You know, I would love to do music.  I would love to pursue that, and I’m hoping that that door opens up, but I also have always had a desire to act, and to just be in that side of the entertainment industry, as well.  So I would be really excited if I got the opportunity to do that, as well.  I’m just waiting to see what happens, but I’m open to any of that at this point.  I’m really just excited about the whole thing.

Question: Did you have any good luck charms on the set, or anything like that?  I know Crystal Bowersox sometimes comes out with her own little things on stage.  Anything that you took with you?

Tim Urban: There wasn’t any really good luck charms, as far as stuff that I did, like any items that I brought onstage.  I didn’t really have any good luck charms.

Question: They talked so much about your smile this season, and it is fantastic.  I want to know if you have gotten any sponsors from like Colgate or any toothpaste companies wanting to talk to you?

Tim Urban: At this point I haven’t, but who knows?  It would be kind of entertaining.  I’d love to do that in the future; that would be a lot of fun.  I haven’t at this point, but you never know.

Question: Have you seen some of the things that have been going on on Twitter, and are you surprised about all this giant support for you?  People are crazy about you, talking about you all the time, screaming episodes.  Were you shocked?

Tim Urban: Yes.  I haven’t seen that much of it, just because of how crazy it’s been, but the little bit that I’ve caught; it’s so amazing to me.  Because you’re in this little Americana bubble, you almost lose sight of how big the show is.  So, it’s really incredible to see that kind of support.  It’s really encouraging, too.

Question: How would you respond to the critics who I’ve seen on Twitter who say you only remained on American Idol because of your charisma, your charming smile, and your sexual appeal, and so forth?  How would you respond to that?

Tim Urban: Oh, wow.  I don’t think that I would respond to that.  It seems that people just like to take somebody and then find something that they don’t like about them and talk about it.  I get that.  It’s part of dealing with the industry, It’s part of being in the spotlight.  So, people are going to say that, but people are going to say that about pretty much anybody.  You’ll find people that don’t like any artist out there, and so you have to deal with it, shrug it off.  I don’t perform for the people who don’t like me, I perform for the people who want me to be onstage, so those are the people that I try to worry about.

Question: I wanted to kind of follow up on the last question is that the intense scrutiny that you got on your looks, particularly about the shirtless photo.  Normally we see that kind of thing happening with women, and it was a shock, I think, for a lot of people to see how much it was with you as a male contestant.  How did you react to all that?

Tim Urban: I kind of knew it would come out eventually.  I didn’t really expect it to be as big as it was, because it kind of blew up really fast.  That was kind of a little crazy, but I just took it in stride.  It’s part of the show, everybody is looking for something in the back story.  Everybody is looking for an extra story, so it’s just one of the stories that people decided to run with.  I just try not to worry about it too much.

Question: Do you think it helped or hindered you?

Tim Urban: Kind of both.  I definitely heard that it helped, but then there are also people who might see that and not take me seriously, just because of that type of thing.  I don’t know; I think it probably helped more than it hurt, but I don’t really know for sure.

Question: Who were your closest friends among the contestants?

Tim Urban: You know, that’s a tough question, because we’re all around each other 24/7, you get to know everybody individually.  So we’re all like really close, but in different ways.  I’ve been getting pretty close to Casey James and Michael Lynche because we were roommates for a while.  Then I also ended up getting close to Lee Dewyze and Andrew Garcia—they are great guys.  I love them to death.  Aaron Kelly, he’s kind of like a little brother to me.  Siobhan Magnus, she’s awesome, love hanging out with her, Crystal.  It’s kind of weird because they’re all really good friends, but just in different ways.  So, I kind of got close to all of them in different ways.  Probably the people I spent the most time with are probably Casey, Big Mike, Lee and Andrew, just time-wise.

Question: Did it help deal with the pressure being around them?

Tim Urban: It really did because we’re all going through the exact same thing, so there’s always that support.  Everybody on the show wants everybody else to do really well every week, so there’s always that support.  If you get bad criticism, they’re there to back you up and be like, “You know, man, it’s all right.  I think you did good.”  Just to have that support was really cool.

Question: When you first got started on American Idol if you had any sort of vision about where you wanted to end up, and whether you thought you would get this far in the competition?


Tim Urban: Honestly, I auditioned, I didn’t even think I’d make it past the stadium, just because of how many people were there, and how few people were getting through.  So when I was at the stadium, I was honestly expecting to just go up there and sing and have them say that I wasn’t what they were looking for and not get any farther than that.

I didn’t really have any grand pictures, so this whole thing has blown me away.  When I made it to Hollywood week, I was like, “Wow.  This is crazy.”  And then when I got sent home from Hollywood week, I was like, “Okay.”  And then they called me back.  So, it’s been like this really crazy rollercoaster journey.

Question: What motivates you both in life and in your music?

Tim Urban: What motivates me is the desire to impact other people in a positive way.  That’s why I have the happy outlook on life.  I try to be a very encouraging person and just not let things get me down because I want that to show.  I want other people, when they’re around me to get that feeling.  I just want people to be really encouraged, and that’s what my whole reason for playing music, is I really want to touch people in a good way and have them really just put a smile on their face or encourage them with my music.

Question: What was your mindset heading into last night’s result show.  Were you confident?  Did you think you were going to stick around to the top six?

Tim Urban: You know, it’s kind of one of those things where I knew from the judges’ comments that it was possible that I’d be in the bottom three.  It was very possible I could go home.  But I also went back and watched my performance from Tuesday night, and I was fine with it.  It was a performance that I decided that if I did go home I wouldn’t look back and be really upset about the performance.  My mindset was you never know what’s going to happen, but that I was excited for how far I had gotten.  That I was really proud of how everything had gone up to that point, and so if I did go home, Idol Gives Back, and being a part of that, it kind of lightens the blow a little bit.

Question: You had to wait so long last night to find out.  Was that really difficult, and do you wish you would have been able to sing one last song?

Tim Urban: Well, the wait wasn’t really that hard, just because it was such an awesome show.  You almost lost that it was a results show at times, just because of how amazing the performances were, and how touching the videos were, and how it was such a great experience.  For me, I almost lost sight of the fact it was a results show.

I was a little sad I didn’t get to sing one last time on that stage, but it’s part of it.  You don’t always get what you want.  I’ll get to come back for the finale, and hopefully get to perform on that stage again.  It’s a little bittersweet, but overall it’s all right.

Question: In the week you did the slide, did you just throw that in at the last minute, or did you plan that the whole time?

Tim Urban: It’s kind of funny.  I was just kind of goofing off on rehearsal, and I was like, “Hey, I’m going to slide.”  And I went and did it, and the stage manager and the producer were like, “Hey, you should do that in the performance.”  I thought it’d be great.  I thought it’d be a lot of fun, and so I was like, “All right.  Absolutely.”  It was like a last minute joke that turned out to be something that I wanted to do in the performance.

Question: What advice did the judges give you that you are planning on taking with you?

Tim Urban: The really good advice they had for me was just to get who you are as an artist.  Kara DioGuardi said to me a couple times, you know, that singer/songwriter avenue, which is what I was doing before the show, is something that I should really pursue.  So it was just really encouraging to figure out just where I fit in and just go for it.  Not try to be some other kind of artist, and not fit in a certain mold, but just be the kind of artist that I am, and then pursue it.  It was cool to get that encouragement from them.

Question: What are you going to miss most about the experience?

Tim Urban: I’m going to miss being around the other contestants constantly.  You turn into this family, so I’m definitely going to miss that.  But then I get to go on tour with them, so it’s okay.  We’ll be back together for a while.


Question: I’ve been enjoying the David Letterman bits that the eliminated contestants have been doing, and I was wondering if you’re a fan of Letterman, and if you’re looking forward to that, and if you know what you might sing.

Tim Urban: Yes.  I’m still figuring out what I’m going to sing, but as far as Letterman, I think he’s really funny, and I’m really excited I get to go on his show.  I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.  Hopefully it will be funny and lighthearted.  I’m actually really excited about it.

Question: Tim, you really do have the greatest smile in Idol history, so I wanted to ask you a little bit more about that.  You had said that’s just you—you smile a lot.  People weren’t sure.  Sometimes people have a nervous smile, when they’re getting criticized, they smile nervously, and sometimes they smile because they’re just happy.  Why do you smile so much, and are you just a happy guy, or what?

Tim Urban: I think I smile because I have a really solid grounding and I know who I am.  I know that regardless of what happens around me, that will always be there.  So when I get criticized, it’s like, that’s all right.  I still know who I am.  I still am happy that I get to do what I get to do, and it’s just such a blessing to be here and to have had this opportunity, that I really couldn’t help but smile.  Even when they were criticizing me, I was like, all right, this is part of it.  You’ve got to enjoy as much as you possibly can, so that’s just what I try to do.

It wasn’t really a nervous smile, it was just me having fun onstage, and I didn’t want to get depressed about the comments, so I just decided to not let them affect me that much.

Question: Tell us about your stage presence.  You just talked about your slide across the stage, but have you ever worked with a choreographer before you got onto the stage?  How do you feel about your stage presence in addition to your singing?

Tim Urban: I haven’t really worked with a choreographer.  As far as stage presence, I’ve done some theatre productions, and so that kind of helped, where, you know, you have to have certain expressions.  I feel it’s something that I’m definitely hoping to improve on and keep working towards, and I think I’ve made some good strides on the show.  It’s constantly a learning process.

Question: You had mentioned that Casey James was one of your closer friends on the show.  I just wondered if the shared Texas background had something to do with that.

Tim Urban: Yes, it was kind of cool, because I found out that he—we kind of had the we almost ran into each other type of things where he was around the same area that I was, and we just never ran into each other.  We knew the same places.  It was cool, just to have that kind of familiarity there.  I think that’s one of the reasons we bonded.  We ended up just spending a lot of time together.

Question: Example of a place you might have run into each other?

Tim Urban: He told me he actually played at a church in my hometown, like two minutes from where I live.  He played there one time, and he played a lot of different clubs, different venues around that area.

Question: Okay, all six who are left are your friends and your buddies and everything, but to go out on a limb, handicap the field, who do you think is going to be standing at the last episode?

Tim Urban: Honestly, because I’ve been thinking about this, because I’ve been asked this question a lot and it really is really hard to say.  Because any moment, any week, it could just be any of them because they all have good talent.  They’re all incredible.  They could just step out there and really just blow America away, and show them something incredible.

So, like for me, I really don’t know, and I’m excited to see whose going to step up and really just amaze America.  I really don’t know, and I’m rooting for everyone to step up and make this really difficult.

Question: Given some of the really harsh criticisms sometimes that the judges gave you, could you sort of explain what’s going through your mind as you’re standing there and still smiling as they’re saying these things.  I think there was one point where, I think it was Ellen DeGeneres or Kara said that you reminded them of someone coming at them with a knife, or something, as you were moving across the stage.  Do you remember that? So when they’re saying stuff like that, what’s going through your mind?

Tim Urban: Well, I mean, I thought it was funny, some of the comments they make.  Because I decided I wasn’t going to take any of that personally, and I was going to try not to take it too seriously until I had time to process it.  When they make certain remarks, I’d find it funny that they got that out of my performance, so that would make me smile.  I was like, “Oh, wow.  I hadn’t thought that you’d think that about the performance.”  That kind of thing.

It’s funny because they all have opinions, and you listen to them, and you’re like, “All right, I’ll take that.”  But you can’t take it too seriously; otherwise it’d be really hard to go out on stage.  I realize that, that if I took it all really, really personally and let all of it eat at me, I wouldn’t want to go out there the next week.

Question: During the results show after the cameras are off, the other contestants just kind of crowd around whoever was eliminated, and I always wondered what is said during that time.  What are some of the things other contestants have said to you after it was announced that you were going home?

Tim Urban: It was really encouraging, because we’re all going to go on tour together, so it wasn’t like a really, really sad time.  I tried to stay upbeat, tried to stay energetic.  We just had a laugh watching my recap, and it was actually a really cool time because it’s like we’re saying, “Goodbye” but it’s not like we won’t see each other very soon, and we’ll be on tour together.

It was all really encouraging.  They were all just expressing their love, and it was a really cool time.

Question: We did a story kind of imagining what you might do in your career afterwards, and one of the things that we thought, because you’re a performer and you’re so gracious when you’re onstage, and you come from this very close, large-knit family; would you consider or have you thought about doing like a family-kind of act?  An Osmond kind of thing, or are your siblings performers, also?

Tim Urban: Actually, I have thought about that, and I have done a little bit of that at home.  My family is actually really musically talented.  One of my younger sisters, she plays the piano and sings.  She has a beautiful voice.  Another younger sister also plays the piano, and she sings a little bit, as well.  And one of my younger brothers, he play a little jimbay, a little African drum, and we’ve done small shows and we’ve done stuff like that.  It’d be cool.  I’d love to do that.  I don’t know if that’s what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but that’s something that I’d definitely love to be able to do in the future.

Question: I wanted to ask you a little bit more about Big Mike.  How do you think he’s done since the save, and why did you bond with him?

Tim Urban: Big Mike is always trying to step up his game.  Every week, he’s like, “All right.  I’ve gotta, gotta get better.  I’ve got to push it.  I’ve got to be as good as I possibly can.”  So having gotten the save, it’s pushed him even more, and he just really wants to keep improving and keep showing America that he really is an incredibly talented artist.  It’s actually been cool to see, him constantly stepping up his game.

He and I bonded just because he’s a really, really likeable guy.  We’re both kind of easy going, so we just had that in common.  We weren’t going to get too down on things, we’re just going to take things as they came and roll with it.  We both really were working really hard to improve, and just work on our songs.  We just bonded on that level—we understood each other kind of thing.

Question: What was the high point of the show for you?

Tim Urban: The high point of the show?  That’s such a difficult question, because every time you step out on the stage it’s such an amazing experience.  The rush of going on that stage will always be a high point for me, just stepping on the stage every Tuesday night.  But probably the biggest high point for me was getting that feedback after I sang the Elvis song.  Just getting the feedback and seeing that I had improved and the judges were noticing that.  That was really cool for me personally, just because I’d been working so hard up to that point.  It was really good to get that feedback, and to see it was showing that it was evident that I was working.

Question: How many brothers and sisters do you have, and where are you in the order, and how does that shape you?

Tim Urban: Well, there are ten of us total.  There are five boys, five girls.  I’m number six.  I’m the third boy, so I’m just right in the middle of everything.  It’s been a really, really unique upbringing because of that.  I was home-schooled, as well, so we’re all really, really close.

I don’t know, being the middle child, you look up to your older siblings, but then you’re also looked up to by your younger, so it’s a very interesting place to be.   But our family is really supportive and really encouraging, so I’ve really been blessed with the family that I’ve had, and just the encouragement and support they’ve been.  I think that’s really shaped me, and it’s probably one of the reasons I have a positive outlook is just that I know that family support is there, and I know that regardless, I’ll always have that love and that appreciation and that support from them.

Question: Do you have any closing remarks?

Tim Urban: Not really.  It’s been such an insane run.  It’s been a crazy, awesome ride, and I’m really excited about the tour and everything that happens afterwards.  I’m just waiting to see.

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Photos Courtesy: FOX

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