A bit of “American Idol” trivia: Josh Abraham, a seasoned rock producer who has helmed albums for 30 Seconds to Mars, Staind and Velvet Revolver, is the cousin of season-five finalist Elliott Yamin.
And more than that, Abraham is one of several studio wizards lending their talents to Yamin’s self-titled debut, due March 20. DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit, Stargate (Beyoncé), Michael Mangini (Joss Stone) and Derek Bramble (David Bowie) are among the others.
“It’s an eclectic mix of just different sounds for every listener out there — for the [’Idol’] viewers, for the young cats, for everyone in between,” Yamin said. “We worked with so many different ideas and sounds … and it’s not your typical-sounding album.”
Lethal helmed the first single, “Movin’ On,” which Yamin recorded before he hit the road on the American Idols Live Tour last summer (see “Taylor Dusts Off Harmonica, Kellie Puts Country Spin On ’Grease’ For ’Idol’ Tour” ). And while the title may bring to mind similarly named post-“Idol” songs like Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” he swears it’s not about the show.
“You know, I never did actually think about that,” he said. “I guess I am moving on, but none of this would be possible without that show. I’m forever in debt to that show.”
Truthfully, the single is about “trying to get this girl’s attention and she’s not giving you any rhythm, so you’re just ready to move on,” Yamin said. “It’s got an uptempo, dance vibe to it.”
Other tracks on the album include second single “Wait for You,” the bluesy ballad “Take My Breath Away” written by John Mayer guitarist David Ryan Harris, and the socially conscious “Find a Way.”
Yamin also covers Leon Russell’s “A Song for You,” which Yamin’s idol, Donny Hathaway, recorded in 1971 and which brought Paula Abdul to tears when Yamin sang it on “Idol.”
“I have a throwback voice,” Yamin said. “People listen to my voice and tell that I’m really influenced by that era, by that genre of music. We did a good job of modernizing that to a certain extent on some songs, but I’m always going to stay true to my style and choice of music. I don’t think we compromise that at all.”
With his album taking up the majority of his time, Yamin has not watched much of the latest “Idol” season, but he made sure to catch the premiere. “I just felt really proud, knowing what I went through and being on the other side again and knowing what everybody else is going through right now,” he said. “You know, we’re in a class of our own. It’s a really cool feeling.”
Yamin, who roomed with Taylor Hicks throughout the season, talks to the winner “all the time,” as well as the rest of the top 10. “As cliché as it sounds, we are like a family — especially the guys,” he said. “Us five guys on tour really bonded, and I miss them all.”
As for his advice to this year’s finalists: “I would just tell them to sing what you want to sing. Don’t compromise your style or your taste,” he said. “And become really thick-skinned, because it is a good crash course of how the business really is.”Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.