It's not like anyone in Tulsa really needs a detailed rundown of David Cook's background. After all, most of the city was watching his progress as he marched through American Idol to win the televised performance contest in the spring of 2008.
The two years he spent in Tulsa as a member of Midwest Kings had already made him a local favorite, garnering a solid following as he released his first solo disc, Analog Heart, in 2006. Winning American Idol after spending two years here playing and bartending simply launched him to hometown hero status.
An extensive world tour following Cook's self titled RCA debut encompassed nearly two years and saw Cook greeted by sold out shows in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City when he returned to Oklahoma, as well as fanatical audiences nationwide. Once the cycle was complete, however, Cook retreated to his new hometown of Los Angeles to begin work on a follow up. That sophomore release, This Loud Morning, was released in June of this year and has been building slowly, culminating in a tour which just launched last week and will stop at Cain's Ballroom this Thursday night, Oct. 13.
"It was a little scary putting out a record that I spent a year and a half working on, especially in a climate where everyone is putting out music in two months," Cook said.
Following the new disc's June release, a big tour announcement was expected. The summer came and went with nothing. Finally a fall tour with Gavin DeGraw and Carolina Liar was announced and Cook is back on the road, where he feels comfortable. When asked about the delay, Cook said "This record presented a real challenge -- just implementing the ideas and meanings that came through in the songs. And that also extended to putting together the proper tour. When the opportunity to tour with Gavin came along, it just seemed to fit. He's a great guy and a great musician and I want to go out with artists that I want to see as well."
"I'm really jazzed to go out with Carolina Liar," he continued. "I met Chad (Wolf, Carolina Liar's lead singer) in Sweden. We went bar hopping on Stockholm and really hit it off, so I'm really looking forward to touring with his band."
Ultimately, the lineup provides an unexpected balance. While none of the artists are particularly similar, they all complement each other to provide a well rounded evening of music.
"There's no pretense with this lineup. Everyone has their own vibe and I like that. I love going to live shows, but I get bored going to shows where all the bands sound the same. I think this tour has a good balance -- it's able to maintain stimulation, but it's not too extreme," Cook said.
Mostly though, Cook admitted he's chomping at the bit to get back on the road. "I'm really glad to be coming back to Tulsa," he said. "Believe me -- when working that long on the record, that really ate at me. I thought 'I like LA, but I'm ready to get back on the bus.' I'm ready for my bunk again."
Of course, the main part in that delay to get back on the road was the time it took to write and record the new record.
"With this record, there were a lot of things that happened, both good and bad," he said. "My brother passed away and I had a platinum record, both when I was on tour, so there were these extreme highs and lows. In an effort to experience the tour to its fullest, I just chose not to experience those things at the time. So when I finally stopped and tried to write, I started processing all of those things."
"When I first started writing, all of that came out and it was so emotionally convoluted that I had to step back from it for a bit," Cook said.
While Cook's RCA debut was a good introduction and jumping off point, This Loud Morning feels more complete and thought out -- more representative of Cook than the prior album.
"I've always used music as therapy, to work things out. I think I've done 10 records at this point and this one has been the most uncomfortable for me, if just because of the honesty and everything I was dealing with when writing it."
Although somewhat cloaked in the sonics and imagery of the album, that honesty comes through, nonetheless, making This Loud Morning a more coherent album and overall statement than Cook's previous disc. Thematically, it builds around the concept of sleep as a reprieve from the craziness and noise of the world, opening with "Circadian" and cycling through a relationship form start to finish, before closing with "Rapid Eye Movement."
The songs may be growing and developing, but it's still the same David Cook that we came to know and love. Los Angeles, TV exposure and world tours haven't changed him much: If anything, they have just expanded his vision and made him even more grateful for the opportunities he's been given. That makes this week's show something of a homecoming for Cook, his band (which includes Tulsa native Andy Skib, of Midwest Kings) and fans that have followed him for years.
Tickets are still available for this Thursday night's concert at Cain's Ballroom for $40 at the door. It's a co-headlining tour with Cook and Gavin DeGraw sharing top billing and Carolina Liar opening the show at 7:30pm. Music fans will want to arrive early to catch it all and experience a balanced show that covers a broad swath of the pop-rock genre before David Cook wraps up the night with an anthemic sweep for fans old and new -- and perhaps a few surprises for his old home crowd.
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