If you’re a long-time American Idol fan you’ll remember Bucky Covington – Season 5, 8th place finisher.

Well, Bucky will be in Santa Rosa on Wednesday thanks in part to FROGGY radio station 92.9.

He’ll perform for free at about 5 p.m. at the Stony Point Grill (130-A Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa).

Idol Chatter caught up with Bucky Monday afternoon after his flight from Nashville, Tenn. landed in Fresno.

Here is what Bucky had to say:

Are you a big NASCAR fan?

“Of course, where are they racing this week? At Infineon? No, I didn’t know that. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them.”

Did you play any sports when you were a kid?

“Actually, I did. My mom was one of those moms who wanted me to try everything, so I did. I was not that good at team sports. I was probably better at soccer than anything else.

“I did play baseball and basketball. I sucked at them so from then on I stopped watching baseball and basketball.

“I stated out playing halfback in soccer and by the time my high school years were over I was a center-striker.”

So, are you watching the World Cup?

“Well, it seems like I have to now. I keep hearing about all these horns, you almost have to check that out.

“I started out as that center-striker, but I got kicked off the team cause of my grades and that was the end of my soccer career. Then we started racing dirt bikes.”

So, you must have been a pretty fast runner to play that position in soccer.

“Actually, I was. At one time I was playing soccer and then when we would get done with practice I’d go out and run cross-country. Of course, back home in North Carolina it’s about 105 degrees so I’d run 3.1 miles after school and then go over to the soccer field. That didn’t last too long. I did continue soccer but I let the cross-country running go.”

Where did you tryout for American Idol?

“I originally was going out to Memphis, Tenn. to tryout but that was the same year as Hurricane Katrina and all the relief efforts went all the way from New Orleans up to Memphis so they canceled the auditions in Memphis which was about 12 hours away from my home. So they moved the auditions to Greensboro, N.C. which was about an hour away from where I lived and worked. It was a little bit calmer there.”

How old were you when you tried out?

“I was 26 trying out, 27 when I was on the show.”

Was in nerve-wracking when you tried out?

“I think if I knew exactly what was going on when I tried out, what I was getting into, I probably would have quit. I didn’t watch American Idol a whole lot previous to trying out so I didn’t have a whole lot of ideas of what was going on. I was doing everything kind of blindly which I think kind of helped me a little.”

So, did you think when you were trying out that there weren’t that many good singers there?

“No, no, no, no … completely the opposite. There were a lot of good people trying out. The thing is when you go to the tryout your confidence level can be very, very high. And the thing to do is to work on keeping your confidence level up. you have remember there are 100,000 folks in this particular city who want your same job.”

When you got picked to advance, did you set a goal for yourself?

“My main goal … well, I never thought about winning the show. I never thought you had to. I didn’t really care about winning. It would have been nice, but I didn’t care about that. My main goal was to get in front of people.
“There was no producer or record label going to walk into Rockingham, N.C. (his hometown) and go into a bar and look at me and say, ‘This guy’s got it.’

“I wanted to be in front of producers, record labels and fans. I wanted to know how people thought I was. I thought I was pretty good, but there’s a lot of people out there who think they are pretty good.

“I wanted to be in front of the people. I wanted to get to where the judging starts, to where people call in, that was the real determination for me.

“But then I found out that the Top 10 goes on a Tour which I had no idea about and then that, of course, became the new goal for me. If you make the Tour then when the show ends you get to go back out on the road and in my book continue to learn. And you do get paid a little bit, it turns out.

“When you are on the actual TV show you don’t make much at all. It was much less than I made in the body shop (where he worked prior to his Idol run). I couldn’t afford to do much. I remember about halfway through that show I had to call my dad and borrow $500 to pay my bills. Of course, when you come off the show that can change.”

Do you sign a contract once you get selected for the show?

“Oh, yes, I think it was either the Top 24 or the Top 12, I can’t remember now. But all of you get together and you pick a lawyer to represent you and we picked a great lawyer who did great by us.”

Were there things in the contract like what you could and could not say to anyone during your run on the show?

“Oh, yes, like during the time I was on the show my hometown newspaper kept calling me to find out how things were going. But I couldn’t talk. You aren’t allowed to talk to anyone about anything really.

“It is very much frowned upon if you talk to anyone about the show, you aren’t making any friends if you do, let’s put it that way.”

Have you ever gone back to the show since you were on it?

“I went back the year after I was on it. I went backstage and saw some folks. I became quite good friends with the producers of the show. I went back and said, ‘Hey.’”

What was your impression of Simon Cowell while you were on the show?

“Simon Cowell was one of those people everybody knows and likes. You wanted his approval, but you weren’t necessarily going to get it, especially me, you know him not likin’ country music and all. Everybody on TV has a part to play. I don’t think it’s very hard for Simon to play that part. But I do think overall he is a good, good fella.

“When he leaves … I hope it doesn’t hurt the show cause it does do a lot of great things for a lot of people. I really hope it doesn’t hurt the show, but I am sure there is a possibility of it, though.”

When you made your first record, because of Idol did you have to make it a lot faster than you really wanted to?

“The thing is, we made it fast, but I’m not sure how fast that was  cause that was the first record that I ever made.

“I did have a lot of great help with the record label and Mark Miller the lead singer of Sawyer Brown. You have to hit the ground running. You have a name with a face with a sound that everybody knows. Coming off of American Idol you are about as hot as the next season.

“You have go hit the ground running and stay very busy. I was very proud of that album, we released three consecutive Top 10s off of that album.

“I’m very proud of this second album we are working on. Of course, we did have a lot more time to work on it. On this particular album I got a song out now called “A Father’s Love” I really love this song.

“The second album was actually done and this song came rolling across the desk and it was a stop the press kind of a moment.

“The good thing about having more time was that I was able to go back and add this song to the record.”

When will it be released?

“We are looking at September.”

What’s a day like in a recording studio?

“I look at a studio as a place where you can’t wait to get in there and you can’t wait to get out. It’s a very creative atmosphere. I have a wonderful studio band that is in there with me. We throw around different ideas. It’s wonderful to get in there and create new music.

“But it’s like anything else, when you are sitting back to write an article sometimes it just won’t come out of you and other times it just falls out of you. For the most part, me and Mark and the whole team work really well together. Sometimes you go in there to sing a song and it’s like, ‘I never heard it before.’ Some days there’s good days, some days there’s not.

“Some days are longer than others. But for instance, when I worked in the body shop, it was like, ‘This car has got to go on Friday.’ So, come Thursday, if it’s not almost ready, then I got to stay and fix this car. It has got to go on Friday – no ifs, ands or buts about it. But when it comes to music and creativity, if it ain’t happenin’ stop kickin’ a dead horse. Come back tomorrow fresh and you might nail it.”

So, your career so far. Was the Idol part the easy part up to this point?

“I wouldn’t call it easy. But Idol does prepare you for a lot of things. Remember I said there were 100,000 people in this city wanting your job … well, that was a good thing to remember cause once I got my foot into country music, guess what, there are still 100,000 people who want my job.

“Every year there are a plethora of new folks trying to get into country music. Gets you ready for media interviews, how not to act like a jackass in front of a camera. The good thing about it it can make or break you, it’s completely up to you.”

Have you opened for any superstar acts yet?

“Yes, Trace Adkins, Kenny Rogers, Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts. Yes, we have done some. But because of Idol we have done something called ‘one-offs’ and I put a lot of work into those shows. I want people to come away hoping they feel it was worth every dime it cost them. And if I am opening up for you, when you are on stage I’m still learning, I’m backstage watching you. I hope to still be learning when I’m 75 years old.”

Do you ever try to make one of your songs a cross-over hit, maybe like the current Lady Antebellum hit song ‘Need You Now’?

“Well, I am country, no doubt about that. If I try a pop song or a hip-hop song it’s still gonna come out country.

“I love country, I get it. I did rock music when I first started out at 19. I love the energy of it.

“For me, if a cross-over song comes up it would be one of those things that just happened to happen.

What’s the most unusual venue you have ever played in?

“I’ve actually played at a tractor supply company before. Sometimes it happens where a radio station will line up with a sponsor and in this case the station got the supply company to come up with the sponsor money I guess. There were 400-500 people there. I think it was in the midwest somewhere.

“That was one of the most different. Great crowd, awesome crowd. sometimes you go to a a beautiful theater, seats 6,000 and it could be a terrible show. Then you go to a tractor supply company and it was awesome. You never know what to expect.”