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'Idol' exit Q&A: Jason Castro

The journey ends at the top 4 for the dreadlocked fan favorite, who insists he was in it to win — but has no complaints now that it’s over

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Jason Castro
Michael Becker

Every so often at EW, we report something that gets readers upset. Foaming at the mouth upset. Last week, for example, I wrote a story about the song selection process at American Idol, which quoted Jason Castro telling me he was ”ready to go home,” a remark that made more than a few Jason fans quite frothy. They didn’t believe he said it. They called me a liar. So, two days after his mortifying performances of ”I Shot the Sheriff” and ”Mr. Tambourine Man,” Jason Castro called in to set the record straight.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Jason, I hear you’re upset that I printed the quote you gave to me about wanting to go home. Do we need to make peace?
JASON CASTRO: I’m not upset about it. It’s cool. I said it.

I’m glad you’re standing by what you said. We got a lot of angry mail about that piece.
The fact of the matter that day was I was in a bad mood. I was frustrated with a lot of things. Then I got on the phone with you. I was just not in a good mood. I couldn’t find a quiet place to talk to you and I kept walking around. I couldn’t focus while we were talking. I don’t even remember much of what I said. There are some days that are just like that. You just don’t want to do what you are doing.

Some people thought what you mouthed on Tuesday night after you sang was, ”Don’t vote.” Did you want people to vote you off?
What I said was, ”Vote. Vote.” I said it twice trying to emphasize it. Then, when I was sitting down, I thought about it, and I thought it was going to look like I said, ”Don’t vote.” So the next time the camera came to me I just said, ”Vote.”

So, set the record straight. You weren’t sabotaging yourself? You didn’t want to go home?
I did not want to go home. But at the same time, now that it happened, I’m kind of glad. It all worked out like it was supposed to. I was reaching the point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I wasn’t able to keep up and it all caught up with me.

Let’s talk about Tuesday night. When Simon said no one should ever cover ”I Shot the Sheriff,” did you think of reminding him that Eric Clapton did a great cover of the song?
You know, sometimes he says things that are obviously wrong. But no, I wouldn’t have said that to him. My mom taught me never to make a person look wrong. I am just respectful. It’s my place to sing a song and his place to judge.

NEXT PAGE: Jason Castro on forgetting the lyrics to ”Mr. Tambourine Man,” and his mixed emotions: ”I really wanted to make the top three…. I was as happy getting voted off as I was to make it to the top 24.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what happened with ”Mr. Tambourine Man”? How on earth do you forget the lyrics to that song?
JASON CASTRO: You know, that day I was just scattered. Right before I went on I was just sitting down and adjusting the microphone. I wasn’t even settled in when I started. I just forgot where I was. I couldn’t believe I forgot those words. Those words are so written on your heart. But I just laughed it off. I don’t ever take myself too seriously. I’m still just human. I do wish I hadn’t done that, but whatever. It happened for a reason. I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Did you perhaps not want to win so you didn’t have to be known as an American Idol winner?
Totally not. I really wanted to make the top three. I just really think the inexperience caught up to me.

Is it that hard learning two songs a week?
Oh, definitely. There’s so much pressure trying to find the right song. And next week was going to be three songs. I was freaking out. I was as happy getting voted off as I was to make it to the top 24.

Speaking of next week, what were you going to sing?
Two of the songs would not have been my choice. We were going to be given two songs. For the third, I was deciding between ”Blue Eyes” by Cary Brothers and ”Green Eyes” by Coldplay. Next week was all about the eyes.

To go back a few weeks, I was horrified at how badly your version of ”Memory” was received. I thought it was really tender and beautiful.
Yeah, I was excited about it. I never watched it over though. It touched me because not belting it out made it more tender to me too. That’s the way I felt it. That’s how I wanted to sing it.

Did you want to kill Andrew Lloyd Webber for dissing you on stage?
No. I thought it was humorous. He was really very kind, but we’re just different people. I don’t think he gets me. I saw a lot of passion in him, but he couldn’t pick up on my passion.

NEXT PAGE: Jason Castro on Paulagate: ”It was too funny. But it was an honest mistake.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You always seemed so mellow even when the judges were slamming you. How do you do that?
JASON CASTRO: Well, it’s just my mentality. They’re just people. We’re all just people. There were times early on where you could see my face just die. That was because I didn’t feel confident and I’m kicking myself and they just confirmed it. But if I’m sure of a performance I feel confident.

When Paula prejudged your second song, what was going through your head?
I didn’t know what was going on. I was so confused. I was standing next to David and I wanted to turn to him and say, ”What?” I thought the second song was good. I was just confused. It was too funny. But it was an honest mistake.

Did that psych you out of singing your second song well?
It might have a little. I don’t really remember. I remember going into it I had a choking fit right before the commercial break. I remember thinking I hope that doesn’t happen again. That first line I felt a cough. I just didn’t feel right. I didn’t have the feel of the song. That was my stronger song in rehearsal, but it became my weaker one.

Last night when you were singing ”I Shot the Sheriff” again, you looked downright giddy to be singing for the last time on the Idol stage.
I was just so excited. As much as I wanted to be in it, I don’t know. It was the realization of, Man, I don’t have to deal with song pressure anymore. I was just so happy. That, and I love Bob Marley and reggae music.

So are you excited for the tour or dreading it?
I’m so excited. I can’t wait. It’s going to be a blast. I have some ideas what I’m going to sing. Maybe one or two I didn’t do on the show.

What’s next for you beyond the tour? Are you going to move out of your parents’ house?
I was living in college and then when I went home I was in my parents’ house. I don’t think I’m going back to college any time soon. I think I might move to Los Angeles. I guess I’ll just play it by ear.

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