American Idol is ready to hit the road! Season 8 winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert were on hand at a press day in Los Angeles on Thursday to talk about the Idols Live Tour, which kicks off in Portland, Ore., on July 5, and will take the top 10 — which also includes Allison Iraheta, Anoop Desai, Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds, Matt Giraud, Megan Joy, Michael Sarver and Scott MacIntyre — to 50 cities in North America. PEOPLE spoke separately with Allen and Lambert about their upcoming albums, the tour and how their life has changed. — Jed Dreben
Kris Allen Are you moving or planning on staying in Conway, Ark.?My wife is going to move back home for the tour, so we still have to have a place to live, and still have our apartment. But things have changed completely. Four months ago, I could have never imagined ever doing anything like this. I don’t get much sleep now but there’s a lot of work to be done writing for the album and … rehearsals, as well. It’s nonstop but I’d rather be doing this than anything else.
How is the recording process coming along?It feels great! It feels great to know that you’ve wanted to do this thing your whole life and to know that you have an album coming out in the fall that you’ve worked hard on that is you.
Can you tell us anything specific about the album — how many tracks, guest appearances?None of that stuff I know yet. I don’t know if we’re going to have any collaborations and I have no idea how many tracks, but I think the CD is going to be great, I really do. A lot of good songs.
Do you think will be surprised with your sound? I actually do think are going to be surprised, but in a good way, hopefully.
What’s been the hardest thing about recording?It’s a lot of work. For me, I felt like the songs would come easier writing-wise and collaborating with . It’s just a process and you kind of have to get used to it and we’re very, very new to this and you’re kind of just thrown into, “Hey, you’re going make a CD in four months. And You’re going to be on tour for three of those months.” … We are music industry virgins, but I feel like we had the best experience and you kind of learn a lot from Idol, and you got to work hard.
What are you taking on tour with you for those long bus rides?If I got my iPod and my phone, I am perfect because you can talk to and then you can listen to great music, which I like to do.
Are there any songs you’re excited to perform?I think they let us say one. I’m really excited to perform “Hey Jude” by The Beatles just because it’s such a great song.
Adam Lambert How is the album coming along?I am so excited! I think it’s going to come out in November. We haven’t found a title yet. And I’m working with RedOne — he’s an incredible producer who did Lady Gaga‘s hit material. I’m working with Linda Perry, with Greg Wells, with Ryan Tedder, Sam Sparrow — amazing writers and producers. And I’m getting to co-write. I wrote a song with Kara Dioguardi from the show. It’s awesome.
What will the vibe of your album be?It’s really about finding the sound that I want to communicate my ideas to . On Idol, you’re doing cover music that’s tried and true material. I went the route of doing a lot of classic rock because I knew that that was the more vocal and it was songs that everybody connected with. In creating new material, I want to do something modern that will stand the test of time, and something that’s new. I’m being careful not to stay stuck in that sound, because it could end up being dated. So, I’m going to try to take the best musically from that era and make it mix with modern pop electronic production. It should be really different.
What’s been the reaction since you came out on the cover of Rolling Stone?The response that I’ve felt is mostly positive support, so I think that’s great. It’s a testament to us really trying to become a bit more progressive and focus on what really matters which is that I’m an entertainer and a singer and that’s what it really needs to be about. My private life really has nothing to do with my ability to entertain.
How will you pass the time on a crowded tour bus?Definitely iPod. You know, escape in music is the best way to kind of be in your own little world. Books as well, I’ll probably grab some books.
Any specific artists you’ll have on rotation? I’m such a music junky. I have everything all the time. You name it, I’ve downloaded it.
What would you put on your concert rider?We’re not quite at the level right now where we get our own rider for this tour. I don’t know. I would love to have a masseuse on sight — that would be cool.
Any cities you’re especially excited for? Connecting with that are in different cities across the country is going to be really cool. I’m excited for the L.A. show. Obviously, I’ve lived here for eight years so this is my home base now. And then my hometown, San Diego, where I grew up.
What else are you excited for?I’m looking forward to banking that paycheck. I’m not going to lie, I mean, that’s not my first priority, but, you know, I think for all of us, having gone through experience, to be able to walk away with some financial security in these tough times is really nice. F Micelotta/American Idol 2009/Getty