Sandra Gonzalez
May 21, 2010 AT 04:18 PM EDT

Image Credit: Nino Munoz/FoxSay what you will about Casey James making the top three — he was as surprised as the most outspoken naysayers. But just because his Idol journey is over doesn’t mean life has calmed down. Read on for his thoughts on the future, those cougar jokes, and the upcoming tour.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I heard you had quite the busy day yesterday.

CASEY JAMES: Little bit, yeah. It was slower than a normal day lately, but still busy.

Have you been able to answer your text messages with a little more than a smiley face now?

I actually have; so that’s good. I’ve had quite a lot lately.

How many did you get on Wednesday night after elimination?

Actually, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was, like, I think 350.

Oh, geez. Well, speaking of Wednesday night, what were you thinking when you were standing next to Crystal? Did you think you were going to crack the Top 2?

Oh, no, no, no, no. See, you know, people ask me this and it’s funny to me because just thinking I would never make it to that point, and then you get to that point. I’ve said this so many times, but I knew at the beginning it would be Crystal and Lee at the end. I knew that. And what’s funny is that when I thought that, I said, ‘Boy, I feel bad for whoever is third against those two,’ [laughs] and then I ended up being that person. And so going into it, I knew, and that’s not a problem. I’m exactly where I should be and I’ve never been more happy or proud or honored to be where I’m at.

On our message boards people were still pretty livid. Some felt like you were “thrown under the bus” when Randy and Kara chose “Daughters.” Did you like that song? Or would you have wanted something else?

Uhmm. [Exhales loudly] You know, like I said, I think everything happens for a reason. I’m happy with the way things worked out. I’m not going to say anything other than that. I definitely think it ended up working out exactly the way it should have.

I wanted to ask you about the judges, specifically that comment that you made Wednesday that “Not everything they say is helpful.”

[Laughs] I think they knew where I was coming from. So, with all respect they understand what I meant by that.

Speaking of comments that weren’t helpful, let’s talk about all those cougar-bait jokes. Was that as awkward for you as it was for us to watch? I think I screamed ‘just stop!’ at least three times.

Oh gosh, I imagine it was even more awkward for the watchers than it was for me. For me, it’s just one of those things I’m used to — and not that I’m used to anything like that — but when you’re going to do what I do as a musician in a bar for 10 years or whatever and people get intoxicated and say all kinds of crazy things, you just learn to kind of smile and say ‘okay.’ Just let it roll off of you. That’s pretty much where I took it when that stuff would come up. In one way, it’s nice. It’s very humbling and such an honor to have anyone voting for you, whether it’s young girls or old men or cougars or military people or whoever it is. It’s a nice thing. So in one way it was sweet and kind and in another way it was awkward. That comes from years of experience of being around people that might say something that you just have to let go. You just kinda smile.

You sound like a really humble guy. What’s it been like dealing with this new mass of lusty fans — because it’s a much larger group that you’d find in any bar of intoxicated people?

You just keep in mind that it’s a situation that’s built up. It is what it is. If it wasn’t me, it would be someone else and people would be freaking out about them at all. I don’t take it as, Look how cool I am. Everybody loves me. I hope those people continue to be my fans musically, and if they do then hopefully at that point I’ll have to keep my ego in check [laughs]. But at this point, there is none because I realize it’s a situational deal. You know what I mean by that?

Yea. I mean, it’s American Idol. It’s gonna happen.

Exactly. It’s not like I’m super special — and I’m not saying I’m not special in any way — but it’s not necessarily the reason, other than me being on a TV show. So as a person it’s easy to stay grounded when you think about it that way.

So what’s next for you?

Now it’s go time. The TV show is one thing and it’s been the best thing to happen me in my whole life. It’s go time.

What kind of artist do you see yourself as?

I think I would be more kinda bluesy-rock, maybe a little country in there.

Tell me about the tour. Do you know what songs you’re going to be performing?

I don’t even know how many songs I’m doing. The show’s still going and whatnot so I think as soon as the show is over all that will actually start and I’ll start getting information on that.

Are there any songs you’re hoping make the cut?

I think they’re going to let us do what we want to do for the most part. Obviously I’ll do some stuff people really enjoyed on the show, and I’ll be looking forward to doing those songs as well, but I think we might even be able to do songs that weren’t done on the show. So that will be really kind of a crazy thing; you can do any song you want to do. So we’ll see what happens.

Is there one song you didn’t get to do on the show that you really want to perform on tour?

Yea, but I’m not going to say.

Lame.

[Laughs] You’ll have to wait.

Okay. Well, my last question is completely superficial, but I’ve been wondering this all season: I wanted to know what you put in your hair to make your curls so perfect.

[Laughs] Sometimes nothing. And sometimes I put this gel stuff that I got. It’s not a gel; it’s like this white… I don’t know. It’s from Wal-Mart.

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