WUNH gives ex-Idol contestant chance to perform with full band, talk future plans for tour
By Phoebe McPherson, Managing Editor
“I got sent hair products once,” he said, and the crowd laughed. This, singer/songwriter Alex Preston continued, was one of the weirdest things he’d ever received.
Thursday night, around 30 students gathered into the office of WUNH and watched Preston and his full band play a small set of about five songs in the recording studio from a flat screen TV.
Their set, about half an hour, consisted of four songs: “Fairy Tales,” “Close to You,” “Trick of the Light” (Matt Corby cover) and “Get Up Get Down.”
“I’m probably surrounded by four of the coolest guys on the UNH campus right now,” Hadley Barndollar said on air starting off the band’s WUNH interview as part of their promotion of their tour. An addition television, outside of the WUNH office, broadcast the set as well. More students and community members stood and watched the ex-American Idol contestant sing.
The first concert is Saturday at the Capital Center of the Arts in Concord. According to the venue’s website, the show has been sold out, but Preston will be performing a matinee show at 2 p.m. before the concert begins.
All four of the band members have known each other since their prepubescent years: Charlie Weinmann, drums, Dustin Newhouse, bass, and Ian Sleeper, guitar.
“Well we played for a long time together,” Preston said.
Weinmann remembered the earlier years when they would play at random locations around campus such as Thompson Hall, Main Street and occasional dining spots, “we would play WildKitty at midnight,” he said.
But those days are not fully behind the group, as Preston added that they played a few songs Wednesday on Main Street before “splitting.”
Preston also remembered his classical music roots.
“I started playing violin when I was 4, and it kind of took off from there,” he said.
New rockstar Preston is enjoying some of star-treatment of being recognized everywhere he goes. “Literally, everywhere I go,” he said, but Granite Staters were his home. “I think it’s because New Hampshire is such a proud state.”
“We were all just jumping up and down on how excited we were,” said WUNH General Manager, Faye Curran on Preston coming to do a show at their recording studio.
“Yeah, it’s cool. I didn’t even think people would show up.”
Outside in the studio, Preston was humble: signing autographs and taking photos with each fan.
“Like, what do you guys wanna do now? Go do some zumba?” he said.
But comparing Thursday’s low-key set to last May’s parade and sold-out concert, “That day [in May] was crazy … that was just insanity … but I feel the same. I’m exactly the same,” he said.
Switching gears, Preston mentioned how happy he was to have met his girlfriend, Jillian Jensen, through American Idol.
“That was awesome,” he said.
Both up-and-coming artists, visiting can be tough sometimes, but Preston has no doubt that the two will be fine.
“It’s definitely doable in today’s day and age, you know, with Skype and all that stuff.”
“Of course, because of our jobs, it’s going to be long-distance sometimes.”
Before American Idol, Preston had planned to come back and finish his degree to become a dermatologist, but the universe had other things in store.
“But obviously that didn’t happen, so I dropped out,” he said. “American Idol’s not for everyone. I didn’t think it was for me, to be honest, until I got accepted onto it and I realized I could be myself.”
Preston’s final advice for aspiring artists like himself:
“My best advice is to, like in the least cliché way possible, stay true to yourself as an artist, but also be open to other ideas, um, and be open to working with other people, because a collaborative effort is definitely a main factor in shaping who you are as an artist, I think.”