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'Glee's' Darren Criss: The Billboard Cover Story
Darren Criss is giving himself a headache. The
How creatively fulfilling is it to record a "Glee" album?
Considering I didn't ever expect what happened, I'm certainly grateful for it. I can't believe they've decided to make an album out of all this stuff. My mom is like, "Oh, I can't wait for your album!" I'm like, "Mom, it's not really my album. My album will come out eventually. I was about to have it out. You'll be able to listen to it soon." Which is not to sound ungrateful. It's just not my music -- it's other people's songs, and it's not just about me -- it's about "Glee" and a character who does these things with the Warblers. I look at it as a collective thing.
How involved are you in your day-to-day business?
I'm incredibly anal about everything that I do. Obviously because I'm so busy with so many things, people have to help me out, and I'm sure they feel like they're running me. But honestly, there's not a single decision that happens on my behalf that I don't feel I have complete control or say in.
Video: "Glee" Warblers perform Robin Thicke's "When I Get You Alone"
I'm very specific about my goals. When I get home, I'm on the phone with StarKid and discussing things with them. It's tough because I'm helping run a ship over the phone in Los Angeles, and they've moved to Chicago rather recently. But I'm involved. Part of the reason I have the traction I do is that I have a pretty healthy relationship with everybody I work with, and it's really conducive toward being able to do all the massive amount of things that I run around doing. It's not just me being an actor -- it's musician and writer.
Do you have any creative input on the songs you get to perform on "Glee"?
I'm still the new guy, so I don't want to go around saying, "We should do this. We should do that." But Ryan is always open to ideas, and I did at one point say, "Hey, Neon Trees' 'Animal' is a really great song." And about a week later it showed up in the script. So whether or not he did it because of me, or if that was an idea he'd already had, I don't know, but it was a suggestion that I made and it became a reality. It just goes to show how open and receptive he is to ideas.
What was it like recording the Warblers album?
About 90% of the Warblers album I recorded in New York, because it's easier to fly one guy from L.A. to the East Coast than the 14 Beelzebubs guys from the East Coast to the West Coast. Things are very rush, rush, rush in Los Angeles because of the shooting schedule -- typically for a "Glee" track, they only have anywhere from about 20 minutes to an hour or two. But I really lucked out when I went to New York because we could spend numbers of hours and get some food, have a beer and really organically grow something. It's a luxury that I do not take for granted, and I'm very careful to advertise that because I don't want to make the other "Glee" cast members mad at me for having that kind of situation.
Your character, Blaine, was singing so much at one point this season, the show itself even joked about it in a recent episode.
They kind of called it out, which I'm glad they did. Blaine definitely had his moment in the sun. I think it's time to focus back on the characters that fans of the show really know and love. Completely objectively from watching the show, I was like, "Why does Blaine get all these songs? This is ridiculous. I want to hear other people doing stuff." I think we're focusing a little more back on New Directions and taking a little bit of a break from the Warblers.
Video: "Glee" Warblers perform Maroon 5's "Teenage Dream"
Do you envision releasing your solo album under the Sony Music family eventually?
We're working on it -- we're really excited and it's something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I'm so thrilled that it's something that can happen because of "Glee," and like the Warblers album I hope I can do it justice and make it something that people can really enjoy.
Are you mentally prepared to play big arenas on the "Glee" tour?
Everything is so much bigger than myself, it's hard to comprehend. A year ago, I was so psyched that my first show in L.A. was at the Troubadour. I grew up dreaming of playing the Troubadour one day. Talk about so much for baby steps. It's like, "Wait -- Staples Center, are you kidding me?" I was happy to drive around in a beat-up, crappy old van with my bandmates and just go to small clubs around the country.
When I look back on "Glee" and on this album, it's like I was offered to live in a golden marshmallow house in the sky. It's like, "Sure! I'll take it!" I never thought that it would ever happen, that I would get a magical marshmallow castle in the sky, but my God, thank you.