Andrew De Leon
Courtesy Photo

Andrew De Leon, the goth-garbed America's Got Talent semi-finalist who wowed the show with his operatic vocals during his 2012 audition, has signed a label deal for his second album, Dark Tales. A three-song teaser EP will be available Aug. 21 on iTunes from Standby Records, home to such bands as Black Veil Brides and As Blood Runs Black.

De Leon independently released his first album, Black Lights -- a mix of classical, rock, pop and goth opera -- as a solo artist in 2013. He plans to release Dark Tales in 2016. It is his first recording with his band, which includes lead guitarist/composer Hunter Fisher and guitarist John Paul Grasso.

"I was OK being just a solo artist for a while, but I quickly realized that I had too much of a vision to limit myself. The sound I was going for was way too big to take on all alone," says De Leon. "The idea of grouping a band happened quickly after, and I'm very happy with that decision. There's more orchestration with the music now, and the band completely gets the musical direction."

De Leon signed with Standby Records when the label approached him a year after releasing Black Lights. He was convinced to sign with the company after having a phone conversation with CEO/owner Neil Sheehan. "I was really impressed with the direction of the label. He made it very clear that the goal of Standby Records was to allow the artist to be as creative as possible, and I was immediately sold on the idea," says the singer. "I think artistic freedom is very important, so it only made sense to join Standby."

De Leon says he was seeking a more pop/dance-driven sound with his first record, listening to EDM for inspiration. But his second effort is more rock-oriented.

Black Lights "ended up being somewhat of a variety record, which makes sense since my shows are kind of the same way," he says. "After that release the fans were really pleased, and I noticed their favorite tracks were the rock tracks. I quickly remembered that at a much younger age rock music was my passion and that led me to wanting to take that path with my vocals. With Dark Tales I was able to do just that. I got together with my guitarist and came up with the concept of a heavy rock album. When writing the songs for Dark Tales we didn't hold back any punches lyrically and musically. With Black Lights I took on a much nicer and appropriate approach, but with Dark Tales I just let it all out. There's no more pop here. It's all heavy rock."

Even though De Leon belted out an incredible rendition of the soprano aria "O Mio Babbino Caro" on America's Got Talent that brought the audience to its feet, he had never sung in public before that night. The YouTube clip of his audition has racked up more than 42 million views. Because he felt like an outcast, De Leon kept his love of singing to himself and practiced in his bedroom. His parents didn't even know about his talent until they heard him perform at the show. Now De Leon is focusing on getting past the mindset of being a victim.

"The songs are very honest and dark, which is why I called them dark tales," he says. "My previous music was mostly about feeling victimized and how to get through those kinds of struggles, but with Dark Tales I wanted to explore the side of me that wasn't a victim. I wanted to get to know the monster inside and embrace it. So the songs on the EP talk about love, hate, betrayal, sexuality and other things I've experienced that I was too scared to write about before. Dark Tales is somewhat of an introduction to a scary story that seems to have no end."