Ambitious Anoop – Idol tour stops in Tampa

Bradenton Herald – It was a busy afternoon for season eight “American Idol“ finalist Anoop Desai when the Herald caught up with him on the phone during media day in Los Angeles last week.

The 22-year-old North Carolina native had been chatting away with the elite of the Hollywood news world: MTV, E! Entertainment and Access Hollywood, to name a few. Curtain call for him and the nine other Idol finalists at the Staples Center was just a few hours away. From Desai’s perspective, the L.A. show could be the one to help land him a record deal. Big-time record agents could have been in the crowd.

The 2009 “American Idols” Live tour, which kicked off earlier this month, has drawn its share of attention for the “Idol” bunch. The 50-city trek features Desai, “Idol” winner Kris Allen, runner-up Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds, Matt Giraud, Megan Joy, Michael Sarver and Scott MacIntyre. The tour will roll through Tampa on Tuesday.

With weeks of screaming fans and media frenzy ahead, Desai is still down-to-earth about his newfound fame.

He sees the tour as a stepping stone to bigger dreams, like becoming a top 100 R&B/ pop singer.

Though ambitious, he still manages to have fun on stage and off with the “Idol” gig.

And so has the rest of the Idol crew it seems. Fellow “Idol” pal Allison could be heard joking around in the background at the start of our conversation.

“Yeah! American Idol!,” she shouted.

How are you getting used to celebrity-hood?

We sort of got used to everything when we were on the show, honestly. So this is just a continuation of it — definitely on a bigger scale I think just because we are allowed to talk to press and see the fans. We’re not in a bubble. So that’s been really cool. A really great experience. I also like performing on stage much better than I like performing on the “Idol” stage, from a singer’s perspective. . . . Not being judged on a nightly basis is a big plus. It takes a lot of stress off our shoulders and that makes us perform a lot better. So it’s been a really fun experience as opposed to a stressful one with “Idol.”

What’s your favorite thing about touring?

I think getting to all the different arenas and seeing all the different fans in every city we go to. It’s really cool that we have a following across the country. We have 10 to 12 to 15,000 people in every city we go to, which is amazing. They told us somewhere we went the tour sold more tickets than Beyonce did the night before. That’s sort of incredible.

How are you dealing with all of the fans?

The fans are great. I’m on Twitter and I definitely hear from a lot of people that way. It’s always going to be gratifying anytime a large group of people cares about what you’re doing. I’m lucky that I have very dedicated fans. It’s been great.

What do your fans tell you? How much they love you? Proposals of marriage?

I’ve gotten a few of those. When we go outside after the shows, they bring us gifts. Things that they’ve made and things that they’ve bought us and everything, which is cool. We get to meet a very diverse segment of the population. It’s nice to know you can reach a lot of different people with your music, which is certainly what I hope to do in the future.

What sort of things do they bring you?

A lot of people bring us survival stuff: Tide pens, Purel and stuff like that. A lot of people will draw pictures of us, photo collages . . . Things we would appreciate.

Is this what you pictured stardom to be like?

Not really. Definitely with the “Idol” tour there’s a lot of focus on the fans. We’ve never been in a situation where we haven’t been very recognizable ever. But to me stardom is half about the fans and half what you do with it. So I’m still looking forward to the opportunity to actually make my own music, making good music and getting it out there for public consumption, and hopefully gaining more fans along the way.

Do you have to be careful when you go out on your own now? Do people automatically recognize you when you’re out on the street?

A lot of people do. It’s funny, I was walking out from dinner last night and someone on the street was like “Wait, wait, wait. I know you don’t I?” You might know who I am but I don’t know you. She’s like, “Oh.” I was like, “Yeah, I was on TV for a while.” Then she realized. I think we’re just sort of in the conscience now. If you keep a low profile, most of the time you’re not going to get mobbed. It’s when we go out together that it’s a real problem.

What songs on the tour are you most psyched about (performing)?

I really love “Mad.” It’s by Ne Yo. I really love that song. It shows what I want to do after the tour. It shows the type of music that I see myself doing. It’s just exciting for me to do that on a stage that big.

Do you have any record deals in the works?

I don’t. That’s what I’m sort of relying on the tour for. Almost as an audition process. I think that, especially this L.A. show that we’re doing tonight, will be very important. I’m hoping to get something by the end of the summer.

published July 23, 2009

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