Artist: Branden Weaver

When did you get interested in music? About my senior year in high school. I always played drums when I was younger in grade school. I wanted to be in a band. Right about my freshman and sophomore year is when I started getting into the band . . . (and) playing local shows.

When did you decide to go solo? Well, after being in a lot of bands . . . and touring a lot around the states, I just got tired of . . . dealing with a lot of finances and lots of egos and stuff in the bands. I had a lot of money invested into what I was doing. So, I just said one day (about a year ago) that I was going to go solo. I always saw myself as being a singer but never actually tried it, because I always played drums.

You tried out for "American Idol," right? Actually, a bunch of friends talked me into doing that (before season seven). I went up to Philadelphia . . . and sang a couple songs and qualified for the second round. It was pretty amazing after there was 20,000 people up there. They only took 400 (for the second round).

Did you follow the show at all before you tried out? Yeah, I follow that show. There's a lot of actually behind-the-scenes stuff that people don't know. The funny thing about it is before I went, I went to a vocal coach (at Eichelberger Performing Arts Center in Hanover) to make sure I had everything good to go. He told me his story. He was actually a Hollywood contestant from season two. He was telling me all the secrets and the things I should know about the show before going up there to get me motivated.

What song did you sing? "Don't Stop Believin'" (Journey)

Why do you think they picked you to advance ? They really liked the look I had going on. They loved the fact that I was singing Journey. They usually cut you off after, like, 20 or 30 seconds. They actually let me (sing) for, like, a minute-and-a-half. I didn't know when to stop. They gave me my golden ticket. You don't get to keep the golden ticket, which kind of stinks.

Who are your personal idols? Steve Perry (the lead singer of Journey) is, like, my idol. My other idol singer is Bono of U2. I'm actually a tenor. I used to be an alto, but I worked my way up.

You have a demo. When did you record that? That was expanded over the past . . . year. It took a long time to come out. I'm actually putting a whole album together now with 12 to 15 songs.

Where do you get inspiration to write the songs? The songs that I have on my demo right now, I think two of them are, like, at least seven years old. I actually wrote two of them when I was in high school. A lot stuff is about . . . current events and what's going on in the world or relationships. I haven't touched base so much on, like, my childhood. I had a really, like, rough upbringing. I do put a lot of emotion into singing my lyrics.


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