For Phillip Phillips, this new year – already three months old – might rival or best last year, when he won the 11th season of Fox-TV’s “American Idol.”
The Leesburg, Ga., native will perform the first concert in Coastal Carolina University’s HTC Center, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, as part of a college headlining tour with the group Churchill, whom he called “a great band.”
Continuing to promote his debut CD, “The World from the Side of the Moon,” released in November on 19 Entertainment/Interscope Records, Phillips spent January and February on the bill with Matchbox Twenty across North America and will open for John Mayer on a cross-country summer tour that also will hit Toronto and Rio de Janeiro.
Phillips spent a few minutes this past week in a phone interview, hours before a concert in Salt Lake City, Utah, to look back and ahead, sounding as comfortable and confident as the sentiment he expressed in his first single, “Home.”
Question | Have you remained in touch with Elise Testone of Charleston, and fellow Top finalist from “Idol” last year?
Answer | Not much, but every now and then, once in a blue moon, she’ll text me.
Q. | How special is the honor of giving the premiere concert in the new arena at Testone’s alma mater?
A. | It’s great. I’m very excited and looking forward to the evening.
Q. | How did your background helping run the family pawn shop, and later, and during “Idol,” coping with kidney stones, keep you so grounded and grateful, and humble about life?
A. | It’s just kind of the way I was raised. You have to work for what you want and don’t expect anything to be given to you. I’ve kept that in mind and I’m always grateful for what good has happened. I have great family and friends as reminders.
Q. | Opening recently for Matchbox Twenty and this spring, headlining your own tour with Churchill across colleges, how does all this help you prepare for the next level of success to achieve?
A. | I’m not used to playing in front of a lot of people. I’m still learning to do that; it’s new for Churchill as well as me. It’s good to grow with them. I learn different things every night and see the different cities that we go to.
Q. | What is it about your home state of Georgia that produces such an array of earth-shaking music artists, such as the B-52s, The Black Crowes, R.E.M., Alan Jackson, Sugarland, Trisha Yearwood and the Zac Brown Band?
A. | I don’t know; it’s just a lot of luck. We just have a lot of great artists from all around the world. I don’t know.
Q. | How special a fraternity is the “Idol” family of contestants? To sit back and watch a new season of “Idol,” if you have any time, how different might the experience be as a fan, a viewer on the sidelines?
A. | Honestly, I haven’t really watched any of this new season this year. I didn’t really watch the show too much. I mean, it’s been good luck to have done the show and won.
Q. | Are you rooting for Kellie Pickler, from the fifth year of “Idol,” who’s off to a promising start two weeks into the new season of ABC-TV’s “Dancing with the Stars”?
A. | I didn’t even know she was on there. I can’t dance, so more power to her.
Q. | Growing up, did you have to chance to visit this corner of South Carolina, bordering your home state?
A. | We went through there a few times. ... It would just be a drive-through.
Q. | What other plans for this year already fill your mind and heart with anticipation?
A. | I’ll get to tour with John Mayer in the summer, and that’s going to last for a while, so I’m really excited about that..