When it comes to "American Idol" and the show's use of rock music, singer James Durbin says the mix remains "iffy."

"'American Idol' is really unsure about rock," says Durbin, a finalist a year ago who lit up the stage, literally and figuratively, with his forays into heavy metal. "You have to assure them they need to love it and to give it a chance."

Durbin says he wanted to make the rock subgenre mainstream again.

"When people think of metal now, they think of that Slayer stuff," he says. "That's not what it is. It's melodic, it's beautiful, it's what's in your dreams. It's magic and it's mystic."

Durbin, who returned to "Idol" this month to promote his new album "Memories of a Beautiful Disaster," says he's a fan of other contestants who have rocked on the show. Among that small group is Chris Daughtry, who fronts the hit group Daughtry, and recently eliminated finalist Colton Dixon.

Durbin says this despite tweeting and commenting that Dixon has been ripping off his style. Durbin, who crossed paths with Dixon last season when they were both in the Top 40, tweeted after a Dixon performance this year: "Haven't I seen a lot of that performance somewhere before? Looked kinda familiar."

All Durbin says now of Dixon is that "he's a great performer, but he has to find out who he is. He's a great guy, and I love watching him perform."

Durbin is excited by the talent he's seeing on "American Idol" this season and says he's a bit surprised he's seeing any of it at all.

"I told myself I wasn't going to be committed to it, but it's been tough," he says. "It's exhilarating, and it's what brought me to it to begin with. So I watch it, time permitting. Everybody is holding their own, and I'm mesmerized by those kids."

Durbin's new album includes the singles "Love Me Bad" and "Stand Up."

"I certainly try to write music that people can feel and take something away from," he says. "I don't like to create music that means nothing."

Durbin is touring in support of Buckcherry, one of the first bands he ever saw live.

"Me seeing them changed the way I perform," he says. "I love (lead singer) Josh Todd's movement, and that's what I took away from him when I was younger. It's a perfect fit to go on the road with them."

Durbin says fans can expect a 35- to 40-minute set that will show "who we are and why we deserve to be here. My goal is to turn fans on to my music."

"I have my fan base from 'Idol,' and they'll always be with me," he says. "I gotta keep them happy. But I'm also looking forward to making new fans. That's what it's about, broadening the fan base."


Buckcherry, James Durbin, Red Light King, Fivefold

When 7 p.m. Friday • Where Pop's, 401 Monsanto Avenue, Sauget • How much $27-$29.50 • More info Ticketmaster