By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Best known for his TONY-nominated work on Broadway’s “Rock Of Ages” and as a finalist on the fourth season of “American Idol,” it can be safely declared that Constantine Maroulis is a household name.
On July 10, 2020, he released ‘Until I’m Wanted’ via Noble Steed Music, his first full-length album in over a decade. Featured on it are tracks like the single “Once In Your Life” and a collaboration with hit-maker Sam Hollander (“High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco, “Handclap” by Fitz And The Tantrums) called “All About You,” which was also mixed by Grammy-winner Jeff Juliano (John Mayer, Shawn Mendes, Miley Cyrus).
The eight-track release was funded entirely via Maroulis’ fans on Kickstarter and has been labeled “a love letter to rock ‘n’ roll” by the artist himself.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk to Maroulis about ‘Until I’m Wanted’ and more.
Music Bugle – What was your reaction upon learning you’d be nominated for a TONY Award with “Rock Of Ages”?
Constantine Maroulis – Growing up, I always found something so magical about the Tony’s broadcast. The Grammys, the Oscars, the Golden Globes are all amazing too, but there was something about the Tony’s that combined all of that artistry. It made a huge impression on me. I trained my whole life, studied my craft from a young age… from high school shows, to the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music to “American Idol” and beyond, getting the privilege and opportunity to originate a lead role on Broadway was a dream of dreams. Creating that show from the ground up alongside such amazing artists is something I wish every young performer to experience… Of course, to be recognized by my peers for my work with the “Best Actor” Tony nomination, really there are no words to describe or articulate the feeling… just wonderful truly.
Music Bugle – We’re sure you get this one a lot, but we must ask anyways – how did your time on “American Idol” help you grow as a performer/musician?
Constantine Maroulis – After graduating the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of music, I toured with “RENT” the Broadway musical. After touring for a couple of years including going to Tokyo with the show, I was informed I would not be having my contract renewed and I was devastated. Basically on a whim, auditioned for “Idol,” a television show I had never seen before. I really just needed a job. It may sound strange, but my run and experience on “American Idol” was an extension of my training and experience touring in “RENT.” I was able to apply all of the skills and life experiences I had garnered and frankly, I went about it just like any job… full out blue-collar Greek boy style. I played the part and fortunately had the entire world watching me at that time. I had teachers at Boston Conservatory that made Simon look like a princess (Laughs), so I was accustomed to having honest feedback. At the end of the day, nothing can really prepare you for going live in front of 30 million people a night on television. You just sort of do it.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your new album ‘Until I’m Wanted’?
Constantine Maroulis – Having had the pleasure of singing other people’s songs for so many years on Broadway and touring with some amazing acts, it was time for me to get back to writing. I’ve experienced so much personal growth and failures over the last many years and I had a lot to say and wanted to find a way to tell my own story. Working with such great musicians on this record really meant the world to me and having my fans be a part of the experience with some crowdfunding made it all the more special. I pride myself on versatility. I feel like there are many influences on the record and I’m proud of it. It’s my love letter to rock ‘n’ roll.
Music Bugle – What made you want to release “Once In Your Life” as the first single from your new album?
Constantine Maroulis – In developing an independent project like this, there are so many factors. At the end of the day, “Once in Your Life” just felt happy and is a fresh sound for me. The feedback on the record so far has been wonderful. My hope is that people respond to all of the tracks. Thankfully, it looks like “Once In Your Life” will be a part of the film I have coming out later this year as an actor directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Some of the other tracks have had some success as singles as well. “All About You” has been added at SiriusXM to their VELVET channel.
Music Bugle – Which song on ‘Until I’m Wanted’ was the hardest for you to write or compose?
Constantine Maroulis – We’re going to be shooting a video for the song “Try.” A filmmaker I respect and like very much responded to the song and we are collaborating on a concept that I feel strongly about. I co-wrote the song with Ryan Star, a brilliant artist and performer whom you might remember from “Rockstar Supernova,” a Mark Burnett-produced show on CBS sometime ago. We wrote that song in the first hour of our session and then it took a few years to finally finish it! (Laughs) We both were young fathers at the time dealing with tumultuous situations, so not only was it hard to track each other down to finish the song, but emotionally, it was difficult to share those experiences.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Constantine Maroulis – Having a nine-year-old in distance-learning was certainly a challenge. My daughter is an excellent student. Thankfully, I didn’t have to chase her around the house. Clearly, I had a lot of time on my hands, so I was designated the teacher and actually, I found it truly rewarding. It was nice to have a routine every day to distract us from what was happening and certainly to distract us from my dear friend Nick Cordero‘s health situation. He battled COVID-19 for nearly 100 days before he lost his battle. It has gutted my group of friends and devastated our community. I miss him every day.
Music Bugle – What advice would you give nowadays to young musicians looking to get their “big break”?
Constantine Maroulis – Personally, I don’t envy young people wanting to get into the business these days. My observation is that shows like “American Idol” over the last two decades have influenced a great deal of artistry and creativity. There are far more opportunities for talented people out there than ever before. We are all obsessed with celebrity and Instagram likes, etc.. Still, my suggestion to young musicians would be to do the work. Let the rest happen on its own. Explore higher education. Write your songs, play your instruments. Don’t worry about being famous or how many likes you have. Just work on your craft and be nice to everyone.
Music Bugle – Looking back on your career so far, what do you feel is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Constantine Maroulis – The biggest challenges always seem to come following huge opportunities. For example, after “American Idol,” there were so many potential avenues to pursue, including a deal to develop a television show and recording opportunities with a few major labels. Only with the benefit of hindsight can I look back and say whether or not I made the right choices. It was very challenging to decide things like whether or not to stay in New York or move to Los Angeles, or whether or not to pursue a solo career or stay loyal to my band. These are heavy life decisions and I’ve learned to trust my instincts and do what feels right.
Music Bugle – Do you think social media helps or hurts the music industry?
Constantine Maroulis – Having a tool to promote your art can be a wonderful way to connect to people and your fans. Like I said earlier, one shouldn’t be obsessed with becoming famous. Become obsessed with being good at your work and the rest will happen. We all want people to like us, but young people have enough pressure on them. I wish they wouldn’t show how many followers or likes someone has. My concern is the effect it has on young people’s self-esteem. However, definitely follow me! (Laughs) Related, I’ve done some virtual/remote videos and launched a new YouTube channel “Constantine Maroulis TV.” Also, done some videos with Richie Castellano from Blue Oyster Cult and Band Geeks, recently performed “Right Now” by Van Halen and we have “Photograph” by Def Leppard upcoming. I produced a television special for News 12 New Jersey for the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and recruited some great acts, including Bon Jovi, David Bryan and Marco Benevento of Joe Russo‘s Almost Dead… All Jersey boys like me!
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of live crowds?
Constantine Maroulis – Performing in front of a crowd or just being with friends and close ones jamming out is just a crucial part of our lives – all of our lives! It’s been like breathing to me my whole life. Whether you’re playing a massive crowd or an intimate gathering, it’s a celebration of art and talent. It’s primal. It’s not something we can live without too much longer, but we have to be safe and smart. We’ve lived amazing lives so far and nobody wants to stumble back into our work. We want to come back with a big bang! Is it 2021 yet?