If there’s one thing Kris Allen learned from American Idol, it was how to make use of his time.
On a weekly basis he was charged with the task of what he describes as “cramming the journey of a song into a minute thirty.” This skill served him well when he came out on top in the show’s eighth season and followed it up with his Billboard-charting eponymous debut album.
But when Allen started work on his sophomore album, Thank You Camellia, he decided to do something different and take his time.
“I wanted this one to be what I wanted it to be,” Allen says. “I wanted to get a little bit more personal with it.”
So Allen spent some time writing songs and sleeping on friends’ couches in north Los Angeles. This experience brought about the album’s name.
“I was trying to think ‘What has been the constant throughout making this album?’” he says. “And there’s a place I stay out here in L.A. and it’s on a street called Camellia. Those people mean a lot to me so I wanted to send a little thank you to them.”
While Allen says the album isn’t a huge departure from his signature sound, he did take explore some new territory.
“There’s a song on the record called ‘Monster,’” he says. “Lyrically and idea-wise, I don’t think anyone has heard anything like that from me before.”
To help promote the album Allen played a now infamous impromptu show on the pier in Santa Monica. “I was like ‘might as well, I’m not doing anything else,’” Allen says.
The show started off innocently enough. “It was fun,” Allen says. “I started taking some requests.”
But as word got out that an American Idol winner was playing a free show and the crowd started to thicken, Allen was approached by police for not having a permit and forced to end the show abruptly.
“Someone was like ‘Dude, that’s rock & roll,’ and I was like ‘Well, I guess,’” he said. “If I would have gotten actually arrested, then that might have actually been a little better.”
Later on Allen’s mother tweeted about the incident and included the hashtag #FreeKrisAllen, which soon became a trending topic on twitter.
Allen says fans will get the chance to hear the new songs uninterrupted when he tours behind Thank You Camellia this summer. The album will be released May 22, and Allen says that taking his time really paid off.
“I was taking a drive the other day and I listened to it and I was smiling,” he said. “As long as I’m happy, I feel like I’ve done my job.”