Chris Richardson Addresses Simon Spat, Lauren Conrad Rumors

'When [Ryan] called me and Blake's name, I knew I was going home,' 'Idol' castoff says.

Now we know how long Justin Timberlake might last on "American Idol."

Chris Richardson — a physical and vocal JT doppelgänger — was ousted from "American Idol" on Wednesday along with Phil Stacey (see "Phil Stacey Reveals Why He Might Have To Bail From 'Idol' Tour") after his Bon Jovi-week performance of "Wanted Dead or Alive" (see "Phil And Chris Exit In 'Idol' Elimination Two-Fer" and " 'Idol' Recap: Blake's Brave Choice Is 'Brilliant'; Jordin Is 'Criminally Heinous' ").

But Timberlakian looks aside, the 22-year-old from Chesapeake, Virginia, might be best remembered for exchanging barbs with Simon Cowell, resulting in the judge's misplaced eye-rolling reaction to Richardson's remarks about the Virginia Tech tragedy (see "Simon Cowell Says Eye-Rolling Reaction To VT Comments Was Misinterpreted").

We caught up with Richardson on Thursday (May 3) to discuss that tense incident, how he's become so close with Blake Lewis and whether he's really dating a "Laguna Beach" alum.

Q: Do you think the spat you had with Simon over your nasal singing tone cost you some votes?

A: Who knows? At least at the end of it I got to say what I really wanted to say, and that was about the Virginia Tech thing and that my heart and prayers went out to them. Despite what happened, it was just odd timing. And it might have [cost me some votes], it might not have. You just gotta roll with it sometimes.

Q: Were you ever surprised by the judges' reactions to your performances?

A: I remember back in the earlier rounds, I didn't think that [Jason Mraz's] "Geek in the Pink" would roll over too well with the judges. I went out there skeptical. I was like, "I wonder if they'd like something different?" I did it, and they seemed to really love it. I'm glad I did that now.

Q: Which judge did you find to be the most supportive?

A: 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 [to say]. ... Paula would always have something uplifting to say.

Q: How did you feel about being pitted against Blake during the elimination show, since you two are so close?

A: Well ... it made [for] good television. ... They're smart producers, and they know what will shock people and what will get people interested in the show. ... If they would've let me go with someone else, it would've been just fine too. I was just telling [Blake] to go ahead and sit down, 'cause I knew I was going home and he was staying.

Q: How did you and Blake become so close?

A: It started in Hollywood week. It's just one of those things where you sort of click with somebody. Me and him had a lot in common — music tastes, music style, personality traits and loyalty of friendship. ... We just bonded, you know?

Q: It must have seemed like a really long time between when Ryan Seacrest called your name and Blake's name and when he announced who was going home. What were you thinking then?

A: Me and Phil sort of came to peace with the fact that we thought we were going home. When [Ryan] called me and Blake's name, I knew I was going home. You start to put pieces together. I looked around and saw the band setting up and the guitar player grabbing a 12-string guitar, you know, and I'm the only person with a 12-string guitar [in my song]. You put it together. I just think if you go out there and you prepare for the worst and hope for the best, I think you're not so much let down. Everybody knows by now that Blake's my best friend, so I was glad to go and have him be in my place.

Q: How do you keep your voice in shape when you're singing so frequently?

A: It really wasn't that bad on my voice because we weren't singing full-out every single day. You really could control the amount that you did sing. This week being rock week was the harder week because I needed a raspy tone. And I would almost, like, purposely get hoarse just to try to sing this week. There are some days that it gets really tough, but you just gotta sort of rest.

Q: You've been seen around L.A. with Lauren Conrad from MTV's "The Hills" and there are also reports that you have a girlfriend in Virginia. What's the truth?

A: I just got out of a three-and-a-half-year relationship back home, and that's about it. All the other rumors and stuff going around, all that stuff is just rumors. Those people are just my friends or acquaintances. But other than that, I'm single but still respecting the fact that I just got out of a relationship.

Q: How do you survive the emotional roller coaster of the show?

A: You've always gotta stay in touch with everybody from back home. They're the ones that keep you grounded and remind you where you came from. Just talking to my mom on the phone and hearing a refreshing voice keeps me energized and keeps me wanting to do the best I can do.

Q: Do you have any advice for future "Idol" contestants?

A: Just be yourself. Don't 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, you're only fooling yourself.

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