20 Questions With Bucky Covington

American Idol Finalist Discusses Dropping Microphones, Fixing Dogs

His self-titled debut CD just debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s country album charts, but Bucky Covington already made a name for himself on American Idol last year during a break from working in his family’s body shop.

The North Carolina native quickly attracted the attention of Sawyer Brown’s Mark Miller, who co-produced Covington’s brand new album. Here, the upbeat singer answers questions from fans about receiving good advice, touring with his twin brother Rocky and voting for himself on American Idol.

1. What convinced you to try out for American Idol?

My sister-in-law told me about it. A lot of people came up to me and said, “You need to move to Nashville.” And I’d say, “To do what? Play more bars?” It was the best way to get noticed. It puts you in front of everybody.

2. You’re pretty handy with your microphone with all the twirls and swirls and tossing from one hand to another. You made me really nervous doing that on American Idol! Have you ever dropped it while performing?

I dropped a microphone on stage in Atlantic City, N.J. It got really hot and my hands got sweaty. I told myself, “If you spin this mike, it’s going to fall.” I spun it, dropped it and I just stood there. I didn’t pick it up till the end of the song. (laughs) Oh, well.

3. Did you think you would be where you are today so soon after your American Idol experience?

First of all, I hoped, and I had a feeling that if it was going to happen, it would happen fast. I’ve always heard that when you get signed [after the show], it happens very quickly.

4. I watched you perform all season long on American Idol. With no disrespect — you are awesome — it seemed that during the last show, your voice had changed. Were your nerves calm, or had you been working with someone?

It’s hard to say. When you’re on the show, you’re getting judged. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know who’s going to call you up. You just don’t know anything. It’s not so much that the nerves were calmed down, it’s just that the voting was over. Now, instead of having to win the votes, you could just do what you do. And the answer is, no, I haven’t worked with anyone.

5. Most American Idol contestants have a contractual obligation to sign a management deal with 19 Management, which is affiliated with the show and is reported to take more than normal management fees from its clients. How were you released and allowed to sign with an independent management company and producer?

Simon Fuller [American Idol’s creator] is a very understanding guy. I think the company is great. What they do is great, and everything they did for me was completely off the charts. Thank you very much. But I let it be known, “Hey guys, I don’t think this is where I need to be.” Nothing personal. I just don’t feel like it’s me.” You don’t have a whole lot to judge that off of, but Simon is one of those guys that says, “That’s great. If you don’t think you’ll be happy here, then don’t be here. You need to go and strive.” We’re still buddies, and we’ll still hang out. He’s a very great guy. It was just something I felt like I had to do.

6. You’ve made some very smart business decisions from the beginning when you had your family set up a nice Web site, to negotiating with producers about offers and signing with Lyric Street Records. Is this something you’ve learned from working in the family business, or does it just come natural?

The main thing I’ve noticed about this business, especially being as green as I am — and as green as I was — it’s very important who’s going to be working with you or for you when they go to sell your songs. The only way you have to judge that is character. I think most people are good. If you go up and talk to somebody, in the first five minutes or as soon as you shake their hand, you know, “Are they legit? Are they the kind of people you want to be around?” All of my decisions were completely from a judge of character. After I signed with my producer, Mark Miller, he and my management helped me make great decisions. Then after I went over to Lyric Street, they have been blessing me with good advice.

7. What is the best advice you have gotten from Mark Miller?

Mark tells me that the biggest power you have is the ability to say no. So if there’s something that pops up that’s going to be huge — and you’re not comfortable with it, but the money’s great — the biggest power you have is to say, “No, I can’t do that.”

8. Will you be going on tour soon?

I have about 15 shows that I’m doing with Sawyer Brown, and then we’ve got a couple of things in line, but it will be in the fall. I’m kind of booked up until July with promotions and everything else. We are going to be playing. We’re just not sure with who or where. But you can go to buckycovington.com to get your fill on that.

9. Will you be taking your brother on the road with you to sing background vocals?

Actually, I’m taking my brother on the road with me, and he’s drumming with me. He’s my drummer. He’s done a great job with that, and he also sings background vocals. It’s very nice to have him on the bus with me.

10. Who has been the biggest influence on your music?

That’s going to be too many people to name. Every country singer who’s ever sang is an influence. Whether I name them off or not, every one of them has great songs, and every one of them has at least a song or two that I couldn’t get out of my head for weeks. That’s a tough question. I’m going to have to go with Elvis, Kid Rock and Jeff Healey. I like all styles of music, so there are too many people to name them all.

11. If you could ask your fans to do one thing to help your career, what would it be?

It would be to continue doing what they’re doing. They’re getting on the Internet and voting for videos. They’re calling radio stations and sending e-mails to radio stations. I can’t ask you to do another thing. You’re doing it. Just please keep doing it, and thank you.

12. When you were on American Idol, did you call and vote for yourself?

Of course I did! (laughs) I called in so many times. You could do a ringtone. When they call and vote, you’d say, “This is Bucky Covington. Thanks for voting for me.” I was actually fixing to record mine: “Hey Bucky, thanks for voting for yourself again!” (laughs)

13. This past summer on the American Idol tour, you and Kellie Pickler sang a duet and sounded great together. Do you think you two would record something together in the future?

I am almost positive we would. I know I would, and I’m positive that she would. If we could get the right song to come along, maybe we could make it happen.

14. What song do you secretly love that people might make fun of if they knew?

I can’t think of a song, but a lot of people might be surprised to know that I’m a big Eminem fan. He makes words rhyme that aren’t supposed to rhyme. Lyrically, he has a great sense of humor in his songs. I’m actually a pretty big Eminem fan.

15. I love Bucky, especially in a cowboy hat. He hasn’t worn one in a while. Is he doing away with that look?

As of right now, the shows I’ve been doing have been quick, like 30 minutes or so. When I get out and start playing an hour-long set, I’ll probably start wearing it a little bit more. I’ll wear it for a song or two. … The thing about a hat is that you don’t have to worry about your hair. You don’t have to worry about getting it right. But a hat can also get very hot, especially if you’re jumping around all over the stage.

16. Where do you get your interesting jewelry?

This one lady sent me a lot of jewelry from Cali Jewelry. She’s got some really good-looking stuff. Everything else comes from different malls. Whenever something comes up that looks cool, grab it.

17. Since your life has changed, what have you had to adjust to the most?

Without a doubt, that would be the busy schedule. Not being home and going out working. It’s amazing when I was working in the body shop, I was working 40 hours a week and I’m sitting there thinking, “I’m working all the time! I’m tired of it! If I could become a singer, I wouldn’t have to do that.” (laughs) I was wrong. (laughs)

18. I have twin nieces who are as different as night and day in looks and personality. Are you and Rocky alike in your personalities?

We are a lot alike in our personalities. We both have a good sense of humor. The only difference between Rocky and me is that Rocky can argue — on anything. If I say the sky is blue, he’ll say, “Well, no, it’s actually ….” He’s a very good arguer. I love him to death. We’re a lot alike in our personalities and looks.

19. Do you like dogs?

I love dogs. Well, I love my dog. (laughs) I’m not going to say I care about yours. I’m kidding. I really love dogs and animals. I’ve even thought about getting into a charity where you fix your dog. If you have a dog, get them fixed. You can walk into a pound and see a bunch of dogs who might live or might not live. If you just fix your dog, we can stop all those numbers, and dogs can be in your home like they’re supposed to be.

20. Does it get overwhelming worrying about the opinion of others?

Not so much now. When I first started Idol, I came in with the attitude of, “I’m going to make everybody love me.” And then I got on the Internet and started seeing just how wrong I was. (laughs) So now the only thing I can do is do what I do. Be who I am. And hopefully they like it, and hopefully that’s what they want. If that’s not the case, what can you do? I’m not a big worrier. I don’t worry about things because I found a long time ago that it doesn’t fix anything. It doesn’t solve it. Either fix it or move on because worrying doesn’t fix anything.