This week I had the opportunity to sit in on a media call with Chris and Phil. Both guys were very nice and appreciative of all their fans. It was a little odd to talk with both of them at the same time but I was able to get a couple of questions in (posted in red). I donít think this will be the last we see of them.
Chris, how are you? Let me ask you something. Do you think that the little to-do you had with Simon about the nasally voice, do you think that may have turned off some viewers, and maybe cost you some votes?
C. Richardson: Who knows, man. But at least at the end of the day, I got to say what I really wanted to say that night, and that was about the Virginia Tech thing, and that my heart and prayers went to them. So despite what happened, it was just odd timing. It might have and it might not have. Youíve just got to roll with it sometimes.
Was that all totally your look or do they help you with it?
C. Richardson: It was all me. Everything was my look. I chose everything that I wanted to wear on the show, and I rolled with it.
Iím going to address my questions, actually, to both of you. I was just curious if there was a specific performance where, perhaps, the results from the judges surprised you. Maybe either you thought you did especially well, but they werenít receptive, or if there were any times where you happened to botch a lyric, but they maybe didnít catch it. Let the speakers out, boys.
P. Stacey: My big surprise came country week. Iím certainly, definitely more in my comfort zone in country music. But Iíd grown so accustomed to getting critical feedback that when Randy was like, ďDude, you were good this week.Ē I was like, ďReally? Sweet.Ē That was the one time that my reaction was really surprised.
What about you, Chris?
C. Richardson: I remember back in the earlier rounds when I sang, I didnít think ďThe Geek in the PinkĒ would roll over too well with the judges.
That was my favorite.
C. Richardson: I went out there skeptical. I was like, ďI wonder if theyíd like something different?Ē And I did it and they seemed to really love it. Iím glad I did that now.
My follow-up question is two-pronged. For Chris, are we going to see the Blake and Chris traveling variety show this summer on tour?
C. Richardson: That would be interesting. I guess you all will just have to wait and see.
Then Iím curious what each of you, if you had to pack three things in your suitcase for the tour, what are they going to be?
P. Stacey: Maybe a toothbrush and maybe a pair of underwear.
Youíve got one more.
P. Stacey: And a comb for my hair.
C. Richardson Iíd have to say a guitar, a toothbrush, and my computer.
First of all, Chris, youíre charming, and youíre obviously a good-looking guy. We want to know, are you single, are you seeing anyone? We know youíve been spotted with Lauren Conrad, and you are rumored to have a girlfriend. Who are you with, who are you dating?
C. Richardson: I just got out of a three-and-a-half year relationship back home. Thatís about it. All of the other rumors that are going on, all of that stuff was just rumors. Those people are just my friends and theyíre acquaintances. But other than that, Iím pretty much single, but still respecting the fact that I just got out of a relationship with my girlfriend.
Phil, Iím sure your family is going to be happy to have you home. Your wife has been supportive through everything. Who do you think now is the front-runner? Thatís actually for both of you.
P. Stacey: I think that the four people that are left have individual strengths that set them each apart. I think Blake is most likely to be the most original contestant ever on American Idol. He just blew it out this week with Bon Jovi. It was incredible. Melinda is possibly the greatest singer Iíve ever heard on the show. Lakisha sings with so much passion, that itís hard to listen to her and not get chills. And Jordin has got a range that lasts for days, and her upper notes just have so much power behind them. Honestly, I think itís anybodyís ball game at this point. Iím going to be really looking forward to seeing how it goes from here on out.
What about you, Chris, who do you think?
C. Richardson: I feel the same exact way as Phil does.
Phil, I want to ask you this. This morning I saw you on Fox and they asked you about whether the fact or not, you could actually go on tour because you actually have to go back to your job at the Navy. Is that in jeopardy? Will we not see you on the tour? Is that a possibility?
P. Stacey: My primary responsibility is to the United States Navy. The possibility exists that theyíll need me for a mission. If thatís the case, Iím committed to following through with my commitment to the Navy. So far I can say that theyíve been 100% flexible with me with American Idol, and theyíve been gems and a huge support base for me. I give the Navy all of the props in the world just even for letting me do what Iíve done to this point.
Do you know at all when theyíll make that decision? If the decision is, ďNo, we need you to go,Ē how hard will that be for you not to be able to go on tour, which is the big thing about getting into the top ten?
P. Stacey: The last time that I spoke with my commanding officer, things looked very promising for me to be able to go on the tour, so Iím not really worried about it at this point. But I will say that it will break my heart to not be able to go on the tour. But at the same time, Iíve got a duty, and whatís important is that I fulfill my responsibility to the Navy first and foremost.
First for Phil, what was your best decision as a top 12 contestant?
P. Stacey: Thatís a tough question. I think my best decision was to go into it with a positive outlook and be happy, and understand how blessed I was to be there to begin with. I think that a lot of people started liking more as a person when they saw that I was truly grateful just to be there because being in the bottom three several weeks in a row, could be considered hard on a person. But my outlook was that 103,000 people auditioned for this, and I was so blessed to be there, that anytime that I got cut, I was just fortunate to be there.
Chris, whatís judge did you find to be more supportive?
C. Richardson: I definitely would have to say, in two different instances, Randy was really supportive of the style of music that I did. He always seemed to dig it. And even on bad nights, he always had something positive on it. Then even Paula, Paula would just always have something uplifting to say.
What would each of you like to sing on the tour? Do you guys have any particular favorite songs youíre looking forward to singing either that were on the show or not on the show? Or have you even thought that far ahead?
C. Richardson: I havenít even thought that far ahead. Iíve got a lot of songs in the database and Iíve just got to figure out which would be the best one that would suit the style of music that Iíd be coming out with on my album.
How about you, Phil?
P. Stacey: I think if I get the opportunity to do the tour, Iíd really like to do something Ė the Idol Gives Back thing has really changed my life. I think that one thing that I want to do is be a positive influence on people and a role model of sorts. I think as a Navy guy, Iíd like to go out and do something thatís patriotic. Maybe something like ďGod Bless the U.S.A,Ē something to represent the Navy and to just be a unifying factor for us as Americans.
Phil, Iím sure you may have answered this before. Why the bald look for you? Why did that work for you ultimately?
P. Stacey: I think it worked for me because it was unique. It wasnít something that anybody else had this particular season. If I was on last year and it was between me and Chris Daughtry being the bald guy, I donít know that it would have gone so well for me. But it worked for me this year because nobody else shaved their heads.
You couldnít convince Blake or Chris to do it?
P. Stacey: I did convince Blake. That whole time heís been wearing a wig, but you didnít hear that from me. Iím just kidding. It would be cool if it was, though.
I wanted to ask you specifically about your future with the Navy. You said you think theyíre going to let you go on tour. But Iím curious if when thatís all over with, youíre going to get out, or whether you want to be a chief someday, or how you see your career shaking out in the Navy?
P. Stacey: Itís tough to say, really. I canít say a single bad thing about my time in the Navy. Iíve absolutely loved every minute of it and my command knows that. But I didnít enlist with the idea of a career in mind. I enlisted to do my duty and be a part of what was happening in the war against terror. I was going to do the first term and then move on.
Especially with this kind of exposure, to be honest with you, I think I could do a lot more from my perspective, if I went out and released music and everything. At this point, I donít have any plans of getting out early. I want to fulfill my duty to the Navy.
When is your hitch up, just out of curiosity?
P. Stacey: October of 2008.
So you will be in until at least then.
P. Stacey: Thatís the plan as of now. Of course, this could change, depending on the circumstances that come along our way. My job right now, itís kind of weird, because Iím a singer for the Navy, and a lot of what I do is going to high schools and everything. Thereís been a little bit of concern expressed for the security at those concerts at this point. It depends on how capable I am at completing my task. Weíll see how it works out. Iíd love to be able to continue to do that.
Chris, how did you feel about the producers pitching you directly against Blake? That seemed kind of mean to me since they know youíre such good friends.
C. Richardson: Theyíve got to make a good television show. Theyíre smart producers and they know what will shock people and what will get people interested in the show. Whatever way, they did it. If they were to let me go with someone else, it would have been just fine, too.
What were you and Blake saying to each other while you waited?
C. Richardson: We were singing a song that we had wrote that we used to just laugh and joke about. I was just telling him to go ahead and sit down because I knew I was going home and he was staying.
My first question is for Phil. I know I saw your wife a lot on the show. They always showed her sitting there and supporting you. So is she getting lots of support from Navy wives and other Navy fans who are writing to her and telling her sheís doing a good job supporting you, or anything like that?
P. Stacey: She certainly is from a few individuals. Sheís gotten some e-mails on MySpace, and some of the blogs have been very positive from the military wivesí perspective. Iím not deployed right now, and Iím not doing something in a dangerous zone. In a way, she represented those who stood as a support for us.
I think it was very ironic that during my video montage, theyíve played ďHomeĒ for every single person by Chris Daughtry, and for me, they played, ďIíll Stand By You.Ē All I could think of was my wife and how she stood by me, and then exactly what the song says.
Chris, my next question is for you. I read that you were born in Belgium. Do you actually have a huge fan base over there, now that youíve gotten so much exposure over here in the States? Are you ever planning on making an album in Dutch or French for the Belgium fans?
C. Richardson: I wouldnít even know if I had fans over there.
Maybe an underground fan base.
C. Richardson: Who knows? If I could speak that language, I would love to make an album like that.
Maybe some day in the future?
C. Richardson: Yes. Maybe some day when I get fluent, I can barely learn Spanish.
Chris, how was it that you and Blake ended up becoming so close?
C. Richardson: It started in Hollywood week. It was just one of those things where you just sort of click with somebody. Me and him had a lot of common with music taste and music style, personality traits, and loyalty to friendship. So it was just one of those things where we just bonded.
Phil, I was wondering if you had any mixed emotions about going away. Youíd been away from your family for so long, that did part of you actually want to leave?
P. Stacey: I wanted to win, but there is a taste of goodness in the midst of this. Iíve had a good past few weeks, so I was able to go out on a high note. Certainly, inevitably, the bubble could have potentially burst for me, had I stayed any longer. But, yes, Iím excited about spending more time with my family. I miss my girls really bad.
I have a question for each of you. For Phil first, will or did your Navy brothers tease you or applaud you for your effort on the show?
P. Stacey: I got a lot of support from my Navy buddies. Upfront they made fun of me because I went to the audition to begin with. They joked about how I was wasting my time and everything. Of course, at the same time when they were being serious, they said they believed in me and everything. Once I got on the show, they were just nothing but every single week, they would text me little messages like, ďPhil, youíre my idol,Ē that kind of stuff. It was really sweet and really nice of them.
Chris, you said last night that you and Blake were best friends. During the weeks, did you guys help each other with song choices and arrangements of your music?
C. Richardson: Yes, we would. Blake really did a lot of stuff on his own. He would ask for my opinion on things, and I would always tell him. In song choices, we would always go over song choices, but, really, Blake did his thing and I did my thing. He would always ask for my opinion, but really, it was all on him. Heís very talented at what he does. Best of luck to him.
Phil, a question for you. My husband I watched the show together last night and he said, ďJust put down class act for that guy.Ē It was really amazing that you had the song, ďBlaze of Glory.Ē
P. Stacey: I know. Wasnít that perfect?
The lyrics were great. And then to go out and see your Navy brother and your wife and to shake hands. Did you have that in mind that you were going to go out and just jump into the audience?
P. Stacey: I hadnít really thought about it. But once I was given the opportunity, it seemed really natural, and it seemed natural for me to be able to go and thank for the judges for the opportunity to be there. Theyíre the ones who put us in the top 24.
Chris, this question is for you. Like you said very early on in this interview about your fashion style, and, again, you guys had such unique looks on this show, I also cover fashion for this paper, so Iím curious. Where did you get your clothes? Were they your own or did you guys get to go shopping?
C. Richardson: We would go shopping in different places. I donít even remember what the name of the clothes were. I remember seeing it and I liked it. It was something that I wanted to do in combination. Sometimes the outfits would go together and sometimes they werenít, but it was on purpose that I did that. Thatís what I felt and I felt the mood. I always tried to do stuff that fit my style, and also fit the song of the week. Thatís what I did when I went out and I shopped. I just really tried to fit my style, just make sure that it completely fit in with the theme of the week.
Chris, looking ahead a little bit, youíre kind of our resident expert on Blake because you knew him so well. In general, give us a little bit of a feeling of what is it about the guy that makes him so interesting.
C. Richardson: Heís just unique. I think weíre all unique, really. Blake has uniqueness and so does all of the other top three contestants in there.
He was particularly unique this last week. Did he seem nervous about it before he did it, or was he worried about it, or was he confident?
C. Richardson: Thatís what he does back home. He does a lot of beat-boxing and he does his thing back home. He finally got to do something that heís comfortable doing, so heís very excited about his performance.
Phil, Iíve got people who say how tough the show is, how brutal it is, the pace is so bad. And yet, you constantly had this smile, you always seemed delighted by it. Are they missing something, or is it really hard, but you just have a smile anyway?
P. Stacey: Itís tough, but youíve got to go into this thing with a good attitude. Iím getting an emergency phone call from my command. Thank you.
Hello, Chris. Congratulations to making it to the final five. I wanted to ask you, it must have seen like a really long time, that 15 minutes between the time Ryan called out your name and Blakeís name, and then your elimination. What were you thinking during that time?
C. Richardson: Me and Phil came to peace with the fact that we thought we were going home. When he called me and Blakeís name, I knew I was going home. You start to put pieces together. I looked around. I seen the band setting up, and the guitar player grabbing a 12 string guitar, and Iím the only person with a 12 string guitar, so you put it together.
I just think that if you go out there and you prepare for the worst, and hope for the best, I think youíre not so much let down. For me, just like Iím sure everybody knows by now, that Blake is my best friend, I was glad to go and him to be in my place.
It sounds like Phil is not with the conference call right now.
C. Richardson: I think he had an emergency phone call.
Would you have any advice for future American Idol contestants?
C. Richardson: Yes. Just be yourself. Donít settle for what they tell you you should do. Make sure you always stay true to yourself, because if you try to change because three people tell you to change, then youíre only fooling yourself.
P. Stacey: I apologize for my absence. My commanding officer just gave me an emergency phone call. I had to skip out for just a few minutes.
I guess everybody is going to want to know what the call was about.
P. Stacey: The Navy is giving me legal clearance to participate in this weekís media events. When you belong to the United States government, you kind of wait to really participate fully until you get the official clearance.
I had just asked Chris if he had any advice for future American Idol contestants, and I donít know if he had finished, but when he finishes, if you could answer that?
P. Stacey: Absolutely.
C. Richardson: I pretty much finished. Just stay true to yourself and never change. Just always grow.
P. Stacey: My suggestion would be to go out there and sing songs that you can have fun with, and just be yourself. Have fun. The best thing that you can do is pick songs that you already know. Even songs that Iíve been singing since I was 10 years old, I was stressed about the lyrics every time I got on the stage. So pick songs that you know, and songs that you can have fun with.
I was wondering about how this experience wears on your voices. Itís probably the most intensive singing period you ever had. I just wonder how your voices held up, and what kind of things you do to keep your voices in shape?
C. Richardson: Honestly, to me it really wasnít that bad on my voice because we werenít singing so much full out every single day, so you really could control the amount that you did song. I think this week being rock week, it was more the harder week because it was more of a raspy tone. I would actually, almost purposely, get hoarse just to try to sing this week. Thereís some days that it gets really tough and youíve just got to rest and go on vocal rest, and just do techniques to try to help yourself get warmed up. Thatís the best thing to do.
P. Stacey: I believe that I have completely ignored this advice. But limiting your speaking, and eating a healthy diet, and taking plenty of Vitamin C through a natural way, like natural orange juice and that kind of thing, would have been very, very beneficial. I, unfortunately, like to talk a lot, so there were definitely some times when I gave some doozy cracks on the show and Iím proud of those cracks.
Itís part of your character.
P. Stacey: Absolutely.
Just a follow-up kind of related to this is how this wears on you, just the day to day. In Philís case, youíve got a wife and kids. Chris, youíre away from your family. How do you put up with that experience, knowing youíve probably never really been through something quite like that before?
P. Stacey: Such as today, as weíre speaking to you, physically weíre exhausted. The time that we have to ourselves is generally between the hours of midnight and 3:00 in the morning. Weíre up pretty early. Today we were up at 4:00. I was up at 3:00 to start doing interviews at 4:00. The schedule is grueling. But at the same time, itís a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I think your body knows that. So it adjusts and gives you just enough adrenaline to keep going.
C. Richardson: For me, youíve always got to stay in touch with everybody from back home. Theyíre the ones that keep your grounded and remind you of where you came from. Just talking to my mom on the phone and having a refreshing voice just keeps me energized and keeps me wanting to keep doing the best I can do.
Iím glad to be talking to you, Phil. A lot of people here in Oklahoma have been backing you since your wifeís family is from Shawnee. I just wanted to ask you, how meaningful it was for you to have everybody here in Oklahoma pulling for you?
P. Stacey: I was telling somebody in an interview today, last night, as I began to sing my song, I just felt this overwhelming sense of love. I felt love for the people that supported me and from the people who supported me. A lot of that has come from Oklahoma. Itís home sweet home to us. As you know, we have a lot of family that lives there. Itís meant the world to me. I canít wait to come back home and hug as many necks as I possibly can for all of their support. I know how tough it is to vote, especially for two hours, and a lot of people did. So it meant the world to me.
Randy said, especially after you did that Keith Urban song, that you had a promising future in country music. Is that the genre you want to pursue, or would you rather do R&B, rock, or pop? What genre do you want to pursue?
P. Stacey: Iím grateful that you can ask that question because it means that Iíve shown that Iím in eclectic artist. But definitely the music that I write is country music and gospel music. I donít know which path God will put me on, but I will definitely follow the doors that are open for me. Iíd love to do country music, but Iíd also love to do gospel music. So weíll see what happens.
Thank you to FOX for allowing us to participate in this Media call.