Lee DeWyze Breaks Down ‘Paranoia’

Loretta Richert/Pamela Baker

Lee DeWyze is back with a vengeance.

The American Idol Season 9 winner recently saw his new album, Paranoia, hit No. 1 on iTunes’ Alternative Music Chart. The album features his hit single, “The Breakdown,” which was recently heard on Showtime’s popular television show, Shameless. The song also made big waves on the internet with a snazzy premiere on Billboard.

The singer-songwriter sat down to speak with the Inquisitr in an exclusive interview about his experience recording his seventh studio album, his latest tour, and the hardest part about finding an active voice in the music industry.

“With the release of the record – getting out on the road and performing the songs live, taking them from the studio to the stage – it’s a good feeling. It’s great seeing the fans, of course,” says DeWyze. “The first day of the tour, we literally got the physical copies of the record. The whole experience was great and it’s been nice to see the reaction to the new music.”

Armed with his trusty acoustic guitar, DeWyze wanted to explore a different vibe from his previous album, Oil & Water. Paranoia examines a variety of very real emotions that people deal with in their everyday lives. Using a higher register with his voice for Paranoia, DeWyze makes it known that his latest effort came to him in a rather unusual way.

“For me, it wasn’t a record I was trying to write, necessarily. It started with one song, and then another song, and then it started to feel like an album. I was able to guide the record from there,” DeWyze told the Inquisitr. “What I try to keep constant is the storytelling aspect of it. You can always enjoy the great harmonies and melodies. People can connect to [the album] because it’s honest and direct at times. That’s the way I write, or at least try to write.”

DeWyze’s goal this time around was for his listeners to feel the way his songs on the album sound. Every track on Paranoia is there for a reason: the emotional highs and lows are meant to take his fans on a journey through the whole human experience.

“Songwriting is super personal. It’s like the making of a car. Most people get to say, ‘Wow, that’s an awesome looking car.’ I really take my time in the building of it, internally. I try to remember I’m writing this thing, and not everyone that is hearing it knows the ins and outs, or the emotional connection that I have to it,” states DeWyze. “I don’t want to alienate anyone with what I’m writing. One of the harder parts is taking a feeling or emotion that you have, and writing it in a way that is not only honest with yourself, but also for other people who can connect with it.”

Featured image credit: Loretta Richert/Pamela Baker

The 31-year-old singer’s ultimate goal is to tell a great story. In an intimate moment, DeWyze revealed that his best work happens when he is in an emotional state. He elaborates that his best songwriting comes to him when he is by himself, alone with his thoughts at night.

“I could talk songwriting for hours on end,” DeWyze grins. “People ask me sometimes, ‘Why do some of your songs sound really sad and dark?’ I’ll go, ‘I don’t write songs on a sunny day.’ You know what I mean?”

“The Breakdown” shines a serious light on the turmoil DeWyze has experienced. The song is about not always seeing things the way a person should, in hindsight.

“When you’re inside of something, you are in a tornado,” he says. “It’s very hard to see the destruction that is going on outside of it. When you are on the outside, you can reflect on it. There’s a lot of looking back. It’s all about reflection and being honest with yourself.”

The former American Idol winner believes most people get hung up on their intent and pride, often wearing masks to hide how they are really feeling. Convenience is another word that DeWyze thinks people know all too well, and not for the better.

“People love to do things when it is convenient. Everyone wants to be a hero after the fact,” DeWyze states. “When you can really be totally honest with yourself about something, there is a very freeing feeling about that.”

Being in the game for over 14 years, DeWyze knows a little something about making his mark in the often-chaotic music industry. His secret to success is staying true to himself. He believes that a singer-songwriter has the best chance of having a successful career is by maintaining artistic integrity.

“I knew when I was young, I wanted to be on a stage of some kind telling stories through music. It wasn’t a choice. I was just drawn to it,” DeWyze told the Inquisitr. “I was listening to Cat Stevens and Paul Simon. Those were the two biggest influences in my life, musically. I heard that and went, ‘Oh that’s what I’m doing! That is it.'”

Like his idols before him, DeWyze writes songs that he wants to hear, and encourages other artists who are struggling to find their voice do the same. He concludes that singer-songwriters have to buckle down, and do the necessary work.

“Art is unlimited. There’s a lot to think about, but at the end of the day, write a good song.”