WEST VALLEY CITY — David Archuleta is worried about one thing: Making Utah proud.

"That's the thing that's on my mind right now," the "American Idol" runner-up said during an interview with the Deseret News a few hours before Monday night's American Idols Live concert at the E Center.

"It's been a great tour so far," the Murray resident said. "And it feels good to hear the applause in other cities. It shows that people do enjoy what I do. But it feels good to be at home. And I want to make everyone in the audience feel good."

The E Center shows Monday and Tuesday are the 10th and 11th stop in the "American Idols Live" tour.

Originally, the tour was only suppose to play one night, but tickets sold out so fast — 20 minutes, according to E Center general manager Kevin Bruder — that the tour, which had a day to spare, added the second show.

Archuleta said singing every night and doing interviews every day can be dangerous to his voice, but he has come up with ways to protect his trademark tenor.

"I drink lots of water," he said with a loud laugh. "And I make sure I don't talk too loud, but as you can see, sometimes I forget."

In all seriousness, Archuleta said he takes time to rest his voice throughout the day and get some sleep — at least as much as the tour will allow.

"I've gotten used to the schedule," he said after stifling a yawn. "We do late nights and early mornings, but we get as much sleep and rest as we can, so we're fresh for the next show."

Archuleta said what surprised him most about the tour was the fact that he would actually be singing in front of thousands of people.

"I know it sounds weird to say that, but when I get up on stage, I realize that it's a different stage and different city," he said. "It feels good to know there are people who love me in other cities. And that people really enjoy what we're all doing."

When Archuleta says "all," he means the 10 finalists from Season 7 of "American Idol," including winner David Cook, Brooke White, Carly Smithson, Chikezie, Jason Castro, Kristy Lee Cook, Michael Johns, Ramiele Malubay and Syesha Mercado.

In addition to Archuleta, Cook, Castro, Maulubay and Mercado visited with members of the press on Monday.

Castro said he wasn't prepared for the size of the tour.

"We're in six semis and six busses that go across the country," he said. "It's amazing how it all comes together. And the crew is amazing. They're there before we get there. And they're there after we leave, and then we see them again the next day all ready for us."

Mercado said the biggest challenge for her was dealing with fans — of the other idols — who try to disrupt her set during the concert.

"You still hear people putting you down from the audience," she said. "I've learned to deal with it and just go out there and do my best."

Cook said he was surprised at how many people are attending the concerts.

"We heard from the organization that there would 11,000 people in Glendale, Ariz., but there were 16,000," he said. "My dad asked me if I could tell the difference between 11,000 and 16,000, and I said, 'No."'

As for Malubay, the most surprising aspect of the tour was how much she's learned about herself.

"I'm still learning," she said. "But I've found that at times I've had to stick up for myself and become a stronger person mentally.

"But we all work with incredible and inspiring people. And that makes it all the more enjoyable."

While everyone has plans for the future, Archuleta will focus on an album when the tour ends in Tulsa, Okla., on Sept. 13.

"It's different choosing the songs for a pop CD than it is for a rock or country CD," he said. "There are some good songs out there, and I want to choose the ones that are a good balance of radio hits and emotional songs."

He did say, also, that he wanted to start writing his own music.

"I'm trying to do that now," he said. "I just hope that some of the songs I write are actually good enough to be on the CD."


E-mail: scott@desnews.com