Catching up with ''Idol'' rocker Chris Daughtry: The season 5 singer tells Adam B. Vary about the gang's three-month tour, his new material, why he said no to Fuel, and more

By Adam B. Vary
Updated June 29, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Chris Daughtry: Steve Granitz/

At this point, it’s a cliché to trumpet the top 10 contestants from the fifth season of American Idol as the most talented (and varied) in the show’s history. Starting July 5, however, they’ll finally get to prove it on the American Idol Live! tour: Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, Elliott Yamin, Chris Daughtry, Paris Bennett, Kellie Pickler, Ace Young, Bucky Covington, Mandisa, and Lisa Tucker will get to belt, croon, growl, and jive in 48 cities nationwide.

In anticipation, we called up Daughtry — a.k.a. The Man Who Was Robbed of His Rightful Title — and talked with him about what to expect from the show, how he’ll handle the hardships of a three-month tour, what’s next for his career, why he turned down that lead-singer offer from Fuel, and what’s the deal with his new tattoo.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So break it down for us — what can we expect from this summer’s Idol tour?
CHRIS DAUGHTRY: Well, I won’t tell you what we’re singing, but everybody’s got at least two songs and a duet, and then a few of us have three or four songs. Everybody seems to have pretty strong sets. It’s really cool. A lot of us are playing instruments — a little departure from the show there.

The group numbers — are they going to be like what we saw on the Idol finale?
Not really. Well, kind of. [Laughs] We’re doing a couple group songs. They’re not, like, totally cheesy or anything. They play out very well.

So there’s no danger of it coming off as, you know, a bit Brady Bunch?
Well, we’ll see. We haven’t done choreography yet.

And you don’t strike me as the kind of guy who is necessarily all about the choreography.
I’m not about it at all. But I do what I gotta do and always try to keep it from, you know, looking too silly.

What are you most looking forward to performing?
My first song. Actually, me and Elliott are doing a duet that’s going to be awesome as well… It’s a rock song.

Who are you most looking forward to watching when you’re off stage?
Honestly, because I’ve been watching everybody for the past couple weeks, I think everybody’s got a pretty good thing. I really like Bucky’s set, and Elliott’s set, and Ace has got a pretty good set too. But Taylor is really fun to watch. Yeah, that’ll be fun.

Now, are you prepared for three months on a bus with all your fellow Idols?
Um, I think so. I feel like we’ve been in a pretty concentrated space for four months now, but this will definitely be a little different.

You’re the only one in the show with a family of your own. How are you going to work that out?
It’s going to work basically like it did on the show. I was on the show for four months before I even went home, and my kids were only able to come out twice during that whole time. So we made that work, and we’re going have to do the same with this. They’re going to be able to come out on a few dates, but it’s not exactly easy to drive behind a tour bus and bring the kids along, you know what I mean?

It seems like in many respects that is the life of a rock star, hitting the road for much of the year. Is that something you’ve just been prepared to do?
Yeah, and I think eventually you get in a position where you’re able to have your family along with you on the road and it works out. But in the earlier stages, it’s almost impossible.

Let’s talk about your career. Earlier this month you turned down Fuel’s offer for you to be their lead singer. Was that hard to do?
No. If I was still playing with my band back at home, and we weren’t getting gigs, playing the same old bars, and Fuel approached me and said, ‘Hey, you want to be our singer?’ it would have been really easy to say yes. But once you’ve gotten the exposure, and everybody knows who you are and you have options, it’s really difficult to just say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do that.’ [Going on my own] gives me an opportunity to write my own stuff and do my own thing. So it wasn’t that hard to turn it down considering the circumstances.

So will you have time to write on the road?
I’ve been writing for weeks now, all my own material. So, yeah, I’ll be doing a lot.

And will you be able to record those songs during the tour?
Um, we’ll see…That’s all in the works right now.

We all know you’re a huge fan of Live and love that particular kind of sound, but what is the Chris Daughtry sound going to be?
It’s going to sound a little different than that. A lot of the way I delivered the songs on the show is kind of where I’m going — it’s pretty rockin’. It’s definitely rock radio, but hopefully a few songs may cross over into mainstream as well.

Did I hear right that you just got a tattoo?
[Pause] Boy, things travel fast, don’t they? Yeah, I did.

It’s on your back, right?

And it’s of your last name?

What’s the story behind why you wanted to do that?
Ah, we won’t go into that right now. [Laughs] I didn’t really get it to, um… [Long pause] I don’t know. I just don’t want to do a story on it right now.

All right. Was it your first tattoo? Was it painful to get?
Yes [it was my first]. It wasn’t too bad. It took about three hours and wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be.

Finally, how are you guys going to be passing the time on the tour bus?
For me, I’m writing for my album — I think I’m going to be spending a lot of time doing that. But, you know, with us guys, we’ll probably find something to pass the time, bring out the guitar and jam out.

Any completely mindless diversions?
I’m sure there will be some Xbox on there.

(For a list of American Idol Live! tour dates, click here.)