Pop-Culturalist Chats with Kris Allen
Singer-songwriter, Kris Allen, is set to release his new album, Letting You In, on March 18. In the years since winning season 8 of American Idol, the talented artist has released three albums, headlined tours, and shared the stage with such artists as Keith Urban and Maroon 5. Pop-Culturalist had the honor of chatting with Kris about the new album and the upcoming tour which kicks off in Birmingham, Alabama on March 31. Be sure to get your tickets! If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing one of his live shows, you’re missing out!
And if you can’t wait until the release to start listening to the new album, Letting You In is available for pre-order, which has four songs available for instant download.
Letting You In
PC: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to speak with us. We’re huge fans here at Pop-Culturalist so we just wanted to kind of talk to you a little bit about the new album and the tour coming up. You’ve said in the past that you’ve used songwriters and artists as a reference point for your songwriting, but this album’s obviously a little different. It seems to have a great message about perseverance and coming out of a dark place into the light. Could you talk a little bit more about that and how your experiences kind of shaped this album?
KRIS: Yeah, I mean, first of all, I do tracks inspired by other artists for the most part. And I mean—and I always am—but I just for some reason, I just didn’t really spend a lot of time listening to a lot of music while I was making this record and writing this record. It was more just—I don’t know why—it just kind of happened that way. I’m sure it was inspired by all of the things I listen to, but nothing in particular. So, yeah, I would say, as far as the songs go—this record—(the songs are) very honest. They are—I think they are real life events that I’ve gone through, whether it be a conversation, whether it be a relationship I’m in, or maybe it’s about a friend of mine—they’re going through some things as well. So, I definitely feel like this is the album that has some really personal stuff in there and it’s not afraid to say those things.
PC: Yeah. Well, it’s probably why it’s called Letting You In. I think that’s what, as a fan, that we’re really kind of excited about—just to hear that part from you—because you get that a little bit here and there from other artists, but it’s just really nice and you feel like you’re kind of going through these things with that person when you listen to those type of songs.
KRIS: Yeah, well, it’s hard to do you know. I will say that I’m a private person. I enjoy my privacy—like, I do social media but I also am not always on it, you know, taking pictures of what I’m doing all the time. Honestly, just because I forget about it and because I want my private life to be private. But as a songwriter, I think I’m realizing that the more that I can open up as a songwriter and as an artist, the more people will connect to what you’re saying (and) the more they can go—I’ve been through that—I’ve done the same thing— you know, things are not awesome for me. And my life’s good, I’m not complaining about my life. So, sometimes you go through stuff, and, good or bad, there are—this is not a—this record is not a depressing album about all the sad things. It’s not that at all. So, yeah, I definitely think that all the things—being more open and being less private, at least in songwriting—has really helped the songwriting for me which is really nice.
PC: I think that actually, and even just like as a fan, just seeing that progression—it’s—I mean I obviously—I love the earlier stuff, but the most recent stuff is what I’ve really started to connect to. So, it’s really nice.
KRIS: I’ve heard that—and I’ve heard there are definitely—I feel like it started a little bit with Thank You, Camellia. Not really. But I feel it really started with the last record and for the most part, those were all really real songs for me. And this was just opening up even more and I think that in the lyrics you can really hear that. It’s just—I mean, it’s really honest.
PC: It also was mentioned that you wrote about seventy new songs. Does that mean we may see a deluxe version of the album that may include some of those?
KRIS: I think that that’s—okay, that number always gets—blown out of proportion because you do—you write so many songs, or like half-songs—and they kind of count it for some reason. But, that doesn’t mean they’re good. [laughter] I’ve written way more bad songs than I’ve written good songs within my career. But I think that—I do think that what you’re saying is definitely a possibility when we start thinking about later on in the year or what we want to do with some of those songs. We’ve already thought about some things—I’ve already thought about some things—that I already want to do with some of those pens. So, I do think they are some that you will hear, but you’ll only hear like sixteen new songs. I promise I couldn’t tell you any good ones off the top of my head.
PC: Now that the album is done, it’s obviously all about the promos—going towards it—and we know you’re going on tour, obviously. But are there any TV appearances or anything that you might be making leading up to the release that we should know about?
KRIS: Oh, well, as far as like this week, probably not—or like the week of the record coming out. I don’t—not that I know of right now. I know that I will be on the American Idol finale in L.A. which is like three days long. So, I will be there that whole time. I will do some performances, stuff like that. And, yeah, all this stuff, it’s funny how it all comes fast. I’m doing different things and everyone’s doing their best.
KRIS: But I also think that the way that music is released these days is a lot different than it used to me. There’s more of a—let’s put it out—and then everything happens afterward, which I actually really enjoy, you know. I’ll be on the road after that so it’s—if you can make some of those things happen, that’s really nice.
Letting You In Spring Tour
PC: So, I know there’s a lot of—there’s probably a couple of the towns I know specifically you said you’ve never actually performed at Carrboro, but are there any other places in particular that you’re super excited to go to?
KRIS: I’m trying to think. I always enjoy playing certain places—I enjoy playing San Francisco—we haven’t done the west coast much lately, they always get neglected because it’s further away. So really anywhere out there. We have some friends out there and we’re excited to do that—we’re excited to do San Diego, and my bass player is from San Diego, so that should be a fun show. Yeah. We haven’t played Denver in awhile either, and Colorado is one of my favorite states, so I’m excited for that. San Francisco is our favorite pizza place. It’s really mostly about the food so anywhere that has good food, which San Francisco has the best pizza in the world.
PC: Don’t tell New York that.
KRIS: You know what? I enjoy New York pizza, but it’s a different thing from what my taste buds want. I want that Italian wood-fired pizza.
PC: Any particular songs on the album, or any mash-ups or covers, that you’re thinking about—that you’re excited for to perform live during the tour?
KRIS: Yes. So, I’ve been thinking about the set a lot lately and I feel like the first three records—and this is just from having quality content—that we have to rely on some covers and I enjoy doing them as well, so it’s not like a burden. But now, I genuinely enjoy this record one through ten. It feels really great so it’s going to be tough to not play the whole thing. But we want to make sure we play some tunes from the last record and from the first three so I actually think there’s a lot of leeway as far as like what I’m able to do every—with the set—throwing in songs people haven’t heard in awhile.
PC: And you can kind of mix it up and you don’t have to do the same show every night.
KRIS: I’m not a fan of that anyways because different venues call for different things. And sometimes you just—you want to play a different song, you know. I actually thought about throwing in something different in the middle of the set that people want to hear. But I think it’d be cool because there are certain songs people haven’t heard in awhile like “Teach Me How Love Goes” or something like that. Some people’s favorite songs are “Leave Me Alone”—throwing in those songs in the middle of the set and kind of just playing it by myself. We’ll see if that sticks or not, but that was one of the ideas.
PC: That was kind of one of the other questions we had, too, like we—from the couple of shows we’ve been to—you kind of make it unique by taking some of those requests from the audience. So is that going to be kind of the same? Would you still consider doing that? Or is it kind of, because there’s so much content now, that it might be left out—or is it just how you feel?
KRIS: Uh, you know, I guess it was like three years ago—maybe four years ago—I went to this Bruce Springsteen show and I got really inspired by it. I think that what he does is he tries to meet the crowd instead of having a crowd meet him if that makes sense in a concert setting. So then it becomes this marriage of the night.
KRIS: I think his whole set was completely different than the one they had written out. And he was calling out songs and going hey, man, play this; and he’d shout out to the rest of the band and he’s in total control of the night because of that. But it’s not like he’s upset about playing certain songs and so he wants to change it. He’s just feeling it out. He’s feeling out that night and I always want to have that looseness in the back of my mind. We don’t play to tracks really; maybe once in awhile. And the reason is because of that. I actually have it being loose. I think it makes for more—as far as like a show that we have together as people in that building. It’s not me putting on a show for you. It’s us doing this thing together and I really enjoy that.
KRIS: There are definitely songs I’m trying to play off the new record.
PC: Mhm. I think that’s one of the good things that we’ve noticed going to your shows as well. First of all, you are probably one of the best performers live that I’ve ever watched and I’ve seen a lot of concerts, but there’s just something special about you when you’re up there just sharing everything with the entire crowd.
KRIS: It’s always been that way for me as far as performing music. I don’t know what happens on stage. I forget. You can ask Cale, my guitar player. He remembers everything from every show that’s ever played for the past five years or six years or whatever it’s been. I honestly have a hard time remembering things because—it happens like I go somewhere else during a show. And I’m glad for that because I think innately I’m kind of shy, but for some reason when I go onstage, there’s this person that jumps out and—hey I’m taking the reins tonight and you hang back.
PC: Yeah. I know. I think we got that, too, like watching you on (American) Idol at the very beginning, you were—as they all say—that dark horse—
PC: —because of that shyness and stuff. But towards the end, like you said, something else came over you and it was something we had never seen.
KRIS: Thank you.
PC: One other thing, for the tour, we noticed you had the VIP experience tickets, so maybe just a little bit of info about what someone could expect if they decide to purchase those or maybe something that will change their mind to buy them.
KRIS: Hm. I mean—quickly—if you know me—there’s a lot of hang out time. I enjoy talking to fans, hearing their stories or whatever, chatting about stuff. I really enjoy that, so there will definitely be that. There are pictures and something to sign and then I’ll also play a couple of songs for the VIP people as well. It’s just by myself probably because the other guys will be doing something less important like getting coffee or something.
KRIS: Not for me. They’re awesome, but they usually don’t join me for it, which is great. Yeah, I mean, for right now, I think it’s just kind of this and that and I feel like it’s always fun. And I’ll usually play a couple of songs I don’t play at the show.
KRIS: For the most part.
PC: And this is kind of a weird question because it actually came up a couple of times. We took some fan questions on Twitter and there’s quite a few people that actually asked if you were thinking about an Asian tour.
KRIS: Yeah, I mean I think about it. Do I know that anything is happening? I don’t know that right now—not to my knowledge. We haven’t put anything into motion. I do know it’s something I’ve wanted to do again. We did it once. I think it was early on—six years ago—and it was kind of crazy but really fun. I’d love to go out there again. I know there’s a lot of fans out there. Hopefully, we can make that happen. It’s not easy to get out there, but maybe we can make it happen soon.
PC: Maybe we should enlist some of them to start a Kickstarter.
KRIS: Hey! Alright!
Kris Answers Some Pop-Culture Questions
PC: Okay. So, I think that’s it as far as the album and tour questions. But since we are a pop-culture website, we kind of just have some silly quick-fire questions for you.
KRIS: Okay, that’s cool.
PC: First one. Your guilty pleasure movie or show.
KRIS: Movie or show. Like a TV show?
KRIS: I enjoy movies.
PC: And do you have a guilty pleasure one that you’re scared of people finding out that you really like? Mine’s Willy Wonka if that helps.
KRIS: Hm. Willy Wonka—Willy Wonka’s awesome. That’s the thing. I feel like I’m a dork so all the stuff that people think like—that’s your favorite movie—I’m like yes, but it’s really good.
PC: Or Jingle All the Way is my favorite Christmas one.
KRIS: Jingle All the Way? That’s hilarious. I don’t know. I feel like I try to watch good movies. I’m trying to think of even the last movie that I’ve watched. I watched Jobs the other day. It was pretty good. I wouldn’t call that a guilty pleasure though.
PC: No. Probably not a guilty pleasure.
KRIS: Yeah. I don’t know if people like that movie or not, I thought it was good.
PC: A song people would be surprised to know that you’re listening to?
KRIS: Um. I always think of these things when I’m listening to that and think—you need to write that down. I enjoying some Miley Cyrus at the moment.
PC: That’s actually kind of surprising, so that’s a good answer.
KRIS: Okay. Alright. She’s a good songwriter and a good singer.
PC: What’s your favorite children’s book to read to your son.
KRIS: Yeah. So we read him a couple ones. He’s so freaking smart and we have this space book—oh, my god. So we’re reading—we go through it, and it’s like pretty detailed for a space book. And he’s two-and-a-half and he’s naming off all the planets—naming off like comets, supergiants—stuff I don’t think I ever learned you know. Yeah, he’s kind of obsessed with space and rocket ships and that kind of stuff. So, honestly, that’s my favorite thing to read him at night and I don’t really read it—you just kind of point it out.
PC: He’s reads it to you.
KRIS: Yeah. So, that’s honestly my favorite. I get really prideful. I’m like man—my son. I’m pretty sure he’s a genius. So, that’s just—I think it’s not, for the most part—I try not to think that it’s me talking like, oh, I’m his dad. I think that—but I think he’s actually like pretty darn smart.
PC: Oh, I know, I watched the video your wife had on Instagram with him naming the things and I mean I was in awe like two-year-olds should not know these things.
KRIS: I know! He’s got like an obsession and what’s crazy is—I have a friend—her husband works—he’s an actual rocket scientist. And I sent him that stuff and he’s like dude, he’s on his way. Maybe he won’t be a musician, which I will be fine with.
PC: Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
KRIS: I’m going to have to say, Harry Potter. I enjoy both but there’s something a little more human about Harry Potter to me.
PC: *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys?
KRIS: I’ve flip-flopped. When I was a kid, it was Backstreet Boys. But I’ve since gone back listening to catalogs, this is what I do, and kind of now—twenty years too late—jumping on the *NSYNC bandwagon.
PC: Star Wars or Star Trek?
KRIS: Star Wars. I’m not a Trek fan.
PC: And I think I know the answer to this one, but—board games or video games?
KRIS: Um, I have to say video games because I used to play them so much, but I haven’t played a video game in years. So, now, as a respectable adult, I say board games. I enjoy them.
PC: They’re a little more, you know, personal with the person you’re playing with.
KRIS: Yeah. I got kicked out of college I’m pretty sure because I played video games. But, it wasn’t a healthy relationship.
PC: Well, that’s all we have. So, we just wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We wish you nothing but success with everything going on this year. We just look forward to everything going on for you this year and years to come.
KRIS: Thank you so much. It’s going to be a great year.
We couldn’t agree more!
Photo Credit: Ashtin Paige