David Cook's Move to Nashville Leads to 'Eclectic' New EP

David Cook

The former "American Idol" champ gets to work on new material, puts feelers out for "the right home" to release the EP and next full-length album

A move to Nashville last year has invigorated Season 7 "American Idol" champ David Cook, who's currently on the road playing songs from a new EP he plans to release in early 2014.

"I've got the bulk of it written and am kind of putting together the odds and ends right now," Cook tells Billboard. "Hopefully I'll get in and get it tracked and out fairly quickly." 

Setting to work on the new material, Cook says he "really just doubled-down on the creative process and tried to go in without parameters and tried to enjoy it. I wanted to experiment and go down roads I wouldn't have been as comfortable with in the past -- just trying different sounds, different instrumentation. I definitely toyed around with some programming. I'm playing some keyboard live now; if you'd told me I was going to do that two years ago, I would've told you you were nuts. I think this new stuff will be a bit more eclectic; that seems to be the road it's heading down as far as the new songs are concerned."

Cook says he's also been making some strides with his lyric writing. 

"I'm tuning in a bit more to telling a story," he explains. "I've always tried to do that with songs in the past, especially with our last record (2011's 'This Loud Morning'). But on this one I really want every song to have its own identity."

Cook has been road-testing some of the new material live -- including the single "Laying Me Low," released earlier this year -- and he reports that "so far the fans have really gravitated towards it, which gives us a bit more juice as far as getting the stuff out there in a timely fashion." 

Cook is still with "Idol" founder Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment but has left RCA Records; he says he's "looking to find the right home" for the EP and future recordings, including another full-length he plans to make afterwards. 

"I think going through the sophomore record with a major label, we'd just come off the success of the first record (2008's platinum 'David Cook') and I put a lot of pressure on myself and really got bogged down with trying to really just push the envelope, and it really took away from the enjoyment of writing and performing my music," Cook explains. "With the new stuff I want to enjoy it, have a good time with it. I think that vibe really kind of permeates through the new record."

Cook's current tour wraps up Nov. 23 in Louisville -- which might leave him time to check out the new season of "Idol." 

"That really does feel like forever ago to me," Cook says. "I really loved my time with 'Idol,' and while some of the producers are gone and the judges I had are no longer there, I still have amazing relationships with people behind the scenes, so I couldn't imagine ever turning my back on that. But as you grow as a writer and performer and all that, I feel somewhat removed from the person and performer I was five years ago on 'Idol.' I feel like I'm a different writer and a different performer. But it definitely was an amazing platform for me. I'll never deny that."