CALABASAS, California — The man who made "soul patrol" a catchphrase is hoping his next one also catches on.
"There is a sound that I've kinda thought about and it's called 'modern wamp,' " Taylor Hicks said Monday during a break from recording his debut album. "It's like swamp meets boogie meets jazz meets hip-hop. It's cool."
The "American Idol" winner is developing his new blend at a Los Angeles-area studio with producer Matt Serletic, whose résumé includes Aerosmith, Matchbox Twenty and Courtney Love.
"He did the Santana and Rob Thomas song ['Smooth'], and that sound is what I kind of had in mind, but a little bit more hip," Hicks said. "He's a Georgia guy and I'm an Alabama guy and we just hit it off."
Serletic is overseeing the entire yet-untitled album — "I feel like the less hands I have in the pot the better off I'm going to be," Hicks reasoned — although the singer has worked with some different songwriters and musicians.
"Me and John Mayer wrote a song together," Hicks said. "He's got a great brain. And we come from the same background."
Bryan Adams penned one of Hicks' favorite tracks, and pedal-steel master Robert Randolph is playing on another.
"I opened for Robert Randolph when I was trying to make it [big], and we actually ran into each other not too long ago," Hicks said. "There is a song on the album that I think he'll really do well with."
Although the track list is still being finalized — and Hicks is guarding all the titles closely — he plans to include some songs he's written over the years. He also plays various instruments throughout the record.
"Interestingly enough, I have a snare credit," Hicks said, laughing. "Harmonica is my lead instrument, so there will be some harmonica on this album. Guitar, I'm still learning that craft, so I'm going to leave that up to the really good guys."
Hicks' album is due December 5, after the debuts drop from Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry and Kellie Pickler, all of whom started recording their albums during the American Idols Live Tour over the summer.
"I wanted to wait till the tour was over to actually start recording, because for me, it's tough to sing five nights in a row and then on the sixth day you have to try and sing," Hicks said.
Now that he is close to finishing the album (after just two months), Hicks can't wait to return to the road.
"I've been excited about recording it, but I think touring is going to be the funnest thing for me," he said. "I'm such a live dude, I've been doing it for so long. I'm going to put some horns on the road with me and have this killer soul band."
After the Idols Tour, Hicks is looking forward to getting back to smaller venues.
"The mentality I've always had is if you were gonna take a date to eat and then to a concert, where would you want to go?" Hicks explained. "And for me personally that's music rooms, small theaters. I just feel like the ambiance of the room — for instance the Fox Theatre in Atlanta has the great starry sky — I think all of that is good for the music.
"On the Idols Tour I would walk across the floor and there would be this hockey rink and this ice would be coming up through the floor," he continued. "You know, something about hockey and music don't mix for me."