February 7, 2018
By William Glanz
Casey Abrams hasn’t slowed down a bit since finishing in sixth place on season 10 of American Idol in 2011.
Nearly seven years after his American Idol run came to an end, Abrams is about to drop his third album. Chesky Records is scheduled to release Put A Spell On You on March 16. The album of originals and covers has a distinct jazz sound.
“It has more jazz tunes than I’ve ever had on a record,” he told us.
Abrams has been writing, recording, collaborating and touring since leaving the show that helped launch his career. He’s already looking ahead, and Put A Spell On You won’t be the last release from Abrams.
“I have so many more projects I’m ready to do,” he said. “There’s more to come for sure.”
With his new release and a new season of American Idol just a few weeks away, we caught up with Abrams to talk about recording the new album in an abandoned church, his upcoming tour and staying in touch with the other contestants from season 10.
SoundExchange: Your new album, Put A Spell On You, is scheduled for release on March 16 on Chesky Records. Musically, the album is unique. It feels like a jazz-Americana hybrid. How does it feel to get this out to the world, and what do you want people to take away from it?
Abrams: I want people to feel like they were just in my living room jamming with me or someplace we weren’t supposed to be jamming in the middle of the night. That’s kind of what happened anyway. We found an old abandoned church and jammed in it. That’s why it sounds so reverby.
I want people to walk away feeling like they were part of a jam session.
SoundExchange: You mentioned that you recorded the album in an old church in Brooklyn. Why did you decide to do that, and how did the building influence the sound?
Abrams: Every time I walk into a church I hear this reverby sound. Almost ethereal because the sound is traveling all through the room and bouncing off the ceiling and walls. Almost ghostly. Chesky Records does this once in a while. They have a performer perform in an abandoned church and take the audio right there and don’t edit anything. That’s why it feels so real. They reached out to me and said “do you want to do this? And sing into a mannequin that has a microphone?”
You’re singing into a microphone that is a mannequin.
SoundExchange: This is your third album. How do you think Put A Spell On You compares to your previous releases?
Abrams: It’s probably the most jazzy. So, more jazzy and funky than my other work.
SoundExchange: You plan to be on tour throughout March and part of April. What should people expect from a Casey Abrams concert?
Abrams: Someone in the audience is going to get messed with. Something weird will happen. They’re going to walk away like “dude, why did that happen?” You might be part of the show.
SoundExchange: Talk about your work last year with Alexander Jean (Mark Ballas and BC Jean) on the single “We Three Kings.” First of all, that’s a unique arrangement of a holiday song. What was that experience like? And were you surprised with how well the song did?
Abrams: I wasn’t that surprised. Mark came up to me and said “dude, BC and I need a third king, and we both said at the same time ‘Casey!’”
Mark sort of mouthed the guitar line and set the beat down, and I said, “that’s amazing. I’ll throw a bass in there and help you sing it.” It was a great experience, and those guys are some of my best friends.
I even got to do it on stage with them when they opened for Lindsey Stirling, so I got to hang out with them. I’m excited to do it next Christmas, too.
SoundExchange: And you got to be in a cool video.
Abrams: That video was so fun. I was really sick that day, but it was so worth it because we got those cool Game of Thrones shots.
SoundExchange: Can you talk about your work with Postmodern Jukebox. Based on your Twitter feed, it looks like you guys are always having a blast and playing in exciting new places. Will you continue to play with PMJ, and what’s it like collaborating with such a big group of talented musicians?
Abrams: It’s super fun. It’s cool because I get to do my thing, and then I also get to do this thing (with PMJ). I’m kind of a special guest. I walk on stage, do a thing and then walk off stage. When I’m doing my own thing, I’m on stage the whole time.
It’s also fun because it’s a whole bunch of covers and songs I really like to sing. It’s a perfect opportunity to travel as well. I just came back from France and next we’re going to Scandinavian countries.
SoundExchange: Okay, no Casey Abrams interview is complete without a discussion of American Idol. The new season begins in a few weeks (Monday, March 11). As an American Idol alum, do you look forward to new seasons of the show, and will you watch it this season?
Abrams: I have time to watch it. It looks kind of exciting. I don’t have high expectations because it doesn’t seem like that interesting of a cast, in terms of the judges. After I got judged by Steven Tyler, J-Lo and Randy (Jackson) I was like “this is like living a dream.”
We’ll see what the new season brings. Even if it’s bad, I’m still excited to watch it.
SoundExchange: What lasting memories do you have of season 10?
Abrams: The people. The producers. The Idol contestants. All the contestants on that show, we all keep in contact. There are a lot of people who live in LA. I see Haley (Reinhart) all the time. I see James (Durbin). I see Paul McDonald. I see Stefano (Langone). I see Pia (Toscano). I see Thia (Magia), Naima (Adedapo). I see Jacob (Lusk). Scotty (McCreery) and Lauren (Alaina) are around every once in a while.
Every single one of those people, I love. I’m really happy every time I see them doing something, going out and about and doing music and doing what they love. That’s the memory – all the people I met. I was really lucky to have that cast. We were all competing against each other, but at the same time we’re still friends.