Most people were first introduced to Constantine Maroulis on the love it or hate it show “American Idol”, but the show was just one step on the career ladder for this Brooklyn native. He was born into a creative world of acting and music growing up around Summer Stock theater and singing in rock bands all through high school. He moved on to the Boston Conservatory of Music and completed a minor in Vocal Performance at the Berklee College of Music…playing lead roles in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jesus Christ Superstar, and RENT, all while fronting his own rock band…there is seemingly not an uncreative bone in his body.
Trying to distance himself from the aura of American Idol aftermath, Constantine has taken the road less traveled post AI and has not rushed into anything, instead working on an album that he is proud of and one that he can be excited to bring to his fans. He recently embarked on a a mini tour and will wrap it all up with two shows at L.A.s Viper Room in mid September. During this brief tour, he took time to sit down with TWRY staffer Stacie to discuss his life after AI, his relationship with his fans, and his future in both music and acting…
Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | July 2006
You’ve got a new album, simply titled “Constantine” soon to be released, Tell me your thoughts on this project…
Ya know, its still going. It’s a process.
A work in progress?
It’s definitely a work in progress. I’m very pleased with the results so far. I think we are heading in the right direction. I think the fans will be happy with what we’re putting together. Clearly I’m dedicated to the music, I’ve got a great band and people have been responding very well to them, and I’m excited about the new music. We’ve got a bunch of new projects in the works and we are trying to package the right things together to keep the machine going as long as it possibly can. I don’t plan on going away anytime soon, so…
And we’re excited about that!
From a fan’s perspective, there is lots of speculation about the record label. What can you say that might quell the fears and put hearts and minds at ease?
Well…. My whole thing is I don’t understand what the big concern is. The music has changed, the business has changed SO much, drastically in the past few years. Major labels are not what they used to be. In fact it doesn’t necessarily mean anything to be on a major label anymore; most of the acts they’ve signed aren’t even really heard. So we’re not really concerned about giving information out about that. I think that it’s important for the artist and the fans to have a little bit of mystery between them. The way I was introduced to everyone was so up close and personal. Sort of intrusive in a way, but I didn’t mind it, but it is that way – “This is his whole life, this is his family, this is where he lives, this is everything he’s ever done, and everything about him and you guys know all that.” Now when you go and see Prince, you don’t know anything about that. You don’t know about his past and that is what the mystery is all about. I’ve chosen a different path than other idols and other people in that I wanted to put true space between myself and the show and I knew that the true fans would stick around and some I’d have to re-convince later on. I knew that the material would speak for itself. People are either going to get into it or not. So I think that was a very important thing for me to do to put space between us. As a business man and an artist… Indie labels are fantastic… depending on what sort of situation you get yourself into. I certainly can make a hell of a lot more money putting out my own album but I think that I’ve always been sort of mystery and the business portion of being so much in the public eye is very much still new to me and I prefer to sort of keep it that way. There is no concern, that album is going to come out and it’s gonna be great and everyone is going to hopefully like it.
So no worries!
EXACTLTY! People are so concerned *insert deep mocking voice* “Dude you need to have a label!” and its like why? No offense, but what do you even know about it, what do you even really know about the labels and about this or that and A,B, and C? Ya know? You don’t.
I mean if you haven’t been there you don’t know…
People make their assumptions. Most artists you go and see, you don’t know nearly as much about them as people know about me. So it’s just important for me to keep a little for myself right now.
I know you worked a lot in Nashville on the new album, and we know you’ve worked with Jim Boggia. Can you tell us who else you’ve been working with through this project?
Yeah, there is a couple other people I don’t mind mentioning. The bigger names I prefer not to… Mark Needham who’s mixed a bazillion records and produced The Killers, he mixed a lot of demos for me and the tracks. Worked with the great Robin DiMaggio, Angie Aparo, a tremendous songwriter who wrote the huge hit “Cry” for Faith Hill. Marcel who had a number one hit with Josh Gracin, who is a former Idol and who is doing really well in the country market right now. Marcel is an artist himself on Lyric Street, the same label as Rascal Flatts. Sof the bigger names we’re not really talking about, but I’ve entertained songs from Rob Thomas, The Love Helmets, Justin Timberlake – I was checking a track of his that I really like that I might be doing. There you have it. Great people. The people at BMI have been awesome; they’ve introduced me to some new material. They’re a big publishing company.
Very Good! So you say that you have some exciting projects coming up, anything you want to elaborate on?
I’m looking at a few jobs in NY as far as plays and stuff like that and we’re just trying to figure out what the right choice is gonna be. Once this album gets done, things are going to get crazy. The label is not going to wait gladly while I’m committed to some 3, 6, 9 month Broadway contract so… I really, really, really want to get back to acting but I’ve got this gig that is on such a bigger scale as a musician and it’s really important for me to concentrate on that, and that has to be the priority. There is a tremendous off Broadway play that I’m seriously, seriously considering right now. And I just need to be able to work it out. There you have it.
Tell me about this Soap Opera gig that was pitched to you… what type of role?
It will be a character not unlike myself. I think that is what they are interested is sort of developing for me. Someone who is perhaps an artist or a musician, romantic sort, ya know fun, and charming and someone that is maybe a little dangerous.
The fun, romantic, charming Constantine character! Inspirations… what drives you? What really makes you tick? What makes you want to do what you do? Where does that passion lie or where did it come from?
I think that my ethnicity and my culture… growing up in New York and Jersey and that sort of fast paced environment. Growing up with the classics. Realizing at a young age that I pretty much feel at home on stage as a performer and an entertainer. The fans certainly excite me… fuel me. It’s like the dream the impossible dream, its like all of the clichés, every project I just want to get better and better and better, and turn more people on… it’s just an ongoing thing, it just art in motion, ya know? SO that is what fuels me.
“I’ve chosen a different path than other idols.”
In the fandom, we’ve noticed that the songs you perform are carefully chosen and seem to convey a message…. Is there any truth behind that thought? Of the songs on this tour what ones might have some sort of message or meaning behind them and what can you tell me about that?
I think they all do! I think that is the actor in me wanting to do material that has great lyrical content and really do tell a story. People can really visualize the imagery and the story coming to life. Whether they personalize it on their own or whatever it’s all beautiful. I um…. (Long pause… as he oogles a pretty girl) Sorry… pretty girl…Yeah, so I think people have come to expect that from me, to do material that is lyrically different.
Speaking of performing. Do you have a pre-performance ritual? Prayer, quiet time, special drink, special dirty good luck socks…
Ya know I just have to get myself ready for the show, mentally and physically… warm up a bit, some tea and honey loquat, make sure everyone is aware of the changes in the set or mistakes that were made the night before… things like that.
Get everybody ready and in the mind set…
Yeah because I’m the producer and the artist and I want to make sure that everything is tip top and put on the best show possible. Ya know there’s not always time to *insert breathy voice here* hang out and meditate and do shit like that…Now that I’m a “stah”. (Obviously mocking my accent! Ha!) Yeah so I try to bring myself to a calm place, and breathe and maybe say a little prayer or something, and lock up all the last minute details and go for it!
Of the covers/theater tunes you’ve done, what are your favorites to perform?
Hmmm… well right now I’m very much into the new material I’m doing because I feel like I’m presenting something new. New and exciting, and it is something that they’ve never heard of before, so right now that is really, really what turns me on, the new material. But, in general, I like standards a lot because they’re just so timeless. Something that has great lyrics and true, truly beautiful melody. People remember them forever and they’re nostalgic, something eople associate great memories with. I like whatever really.
So you don’t have any particular favorite?
Well… I don’t know. I mean I’m just glad to be working. Whatever is on the set list!
What is the one question you wish someone who is interviewing you would ask you, or one topic that hasn’t been tapped into or one question that hasn’t been asked enough?
Nothing comes to mind! I’m usually pretty open and willing to answer whatever.
In closing… Message to your fans?
I just want to thank everyone for being so patient and supportive and just loving really. I hope to be around for a long time and I hope they’ll all be right there with me. I wanna fly for great things certainly but they don’t happen overnight especially in my world. It’s a process… and I’m learning everyday a little bit more about what my purpose is in music and in art in general. I understand the frustration at times, people want product, but you just can’t force things. It’s not what I want to do. I think we’re on to something really good and I hope people will continue to support that, and I love them very much. It’s been a good little tour. Expect a lot more!
*Live photos courtesy of Stacie & LPP
*All other photos courtesy of http://www.constantinemaroulis.com