About the only thing Bo Bice shares in common with Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson is his vehicle: It took "American Idol" to earn the Southern rocker a place in the sun.

About the only thing Bo Bice shares in common with Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson is his vehicle: It took "American Idol" to earn the Southern rocker a place in the sun. He gives credit where it is due, but the season-four runner-up is aiming to be more of a self-made man than many of his predecessors.

His debut album, "The Real Thing," due this week on RCA, is certainly meant to hint that the performer is driving his own material and collaborating more with songwriters and producers than most along the "Idol" assembly line.

At 30, Bice is a seasoned musician, fronting his band SugarMoney, and he is actually old enough to have something to say. "I identify with all of the songs on this album -- and the title made sense to me because that's what we're setting up to prove: that I am legitimately the real thing," he says. "I play instruments, I write songs, I've been doing this for a while. I think it encompasses what we're going for."

Writers and producers for the project include a who's who among contemporary pop/rock hitmakers: John Shanks, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Marti Frederiksen, Ben Moody, Desmond Child, Kara DioGuardi, Max Martin and Nickelback's Chad Kroeger. Bice co-wrote two of the tracks, "It's My Life" with Clif Magness and DioGuardi and "Valley of Angels" with Magness.

"I'm grateful for 'Idol,' but so many of the first albums are taken as souvenirs," he adds. "I think that everything to do with my album -- the look of it, the feel, the songs-are about me. They didn't come in and go, 'Bo, change this, all of the kids are wearing mascara ...' F*** that. This is about the music. We got a rock'n'roll album, not a souvenir from a television show."