Alex Preston makes Top 4 of “American Idol” and longtime friend says he’s worked hard for it

After making it through another week of “American Idol,” Mont Vernon’s Alex Preston is now in the show’s Top 4. Before Preston was on national television though, he was performing at a much smaller scale in a studio at his best friend’s house in Amherst.

Dustin Newhouse, 21, remembers first meeting Preston in seventh grade when they played percussion in the school band together. Although they were more into dirt bikes at the time than music, the two formed their first band together the summer after eighth grade.

Along with two other friends they started Four Car Pile Up before they went on to change the name to Undertow. Fast forward to 2011, and Preston and Newhouse were freshmen rooming together at University of New Hampshire. At this point, the band was just the two of them, and they were called Less Than Three.

Interacting with Preston in this band gave Newhouse a realization.

“It became clear that he was going to be a solo singer-songwriter,” Newhouse said.

Preston went on to join the Sam King Band by the end of that year and then moved to Nashville to focus on his music. Newhouse said Preston needed to get away from school for awhile.

“He was majoring in business, which he hated. It wasn’t fulfilling his music or medical interest,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said he wasn’t at all surprised that Preston made the move. He said it was something they had talked about doing for years.

“He’s the kind of person who will try anything if he thinks it will get him close to his dream,” Newhouse said.

After returning from Nashville, Preston “slowed down” according to Newhouse. Things picked back up when he auditioned for “Idol.” Newhouse said Preston deserves the success he is experiencing on the show.

“He’s got a great style and a great sound that he’d been practicing since eighth grade,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse also believes that Preston is what “American Idol” needs. He thinks Preston is also what fans have been looking for.

“It got to the point where he had something marketable, something relatable and something authentic,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said he’s enjoyed seeing Preston gain fans. He said Preston enjoys reaching people with music.

“Seeing him get a fanbase that actually finds something meaningful with his music is awesome,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said he’s not jealous of his friend’s fame because he knows his fanbase would be different from Preston’s.
He said he is just happy for Preston.

“People who are jealous of him have strayed from art,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said people ask why he isn’t pursuing his own fame.

“People ask why I don’t audition (for Idol) but I don’t want to expose myself to that,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse has been doing shows to promote Preston. He performs at Chapanga’s and the Pasta Loft, both in Milford, on Wednesday nights when “Idol” is on. He performs over Preston’s competition and then stops while Preston performs.

“I’m trying to keep the local community invigorated,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said people are already very interested in Preston though.

“That’s the best I can do to keep people involved,” Newhouse said. “Not that he needs help.”

Newhouse said that “American Idol” has an interesting aspect to it that can have a way of changing people. He said it’s a reality show, not a singing competition and he warned Preston of this before he went to Hollywood. Newhouse said Preston has stayed true to himself though, and says, “no” if producers try to have him change an arrangement.

Newhouse said he and Preston have remained close and that they talk on the phone every day.

“We’ve tried not to stray away from that because it’s real,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said the only thing that has changed about Preston is his confidence. He also said Preston is more relaxed and has less self-doubt. Preston also has a growing network of connections with other musicians. Newhouse knows this can be of benefit to him, but he is also aware that he won’t find overnight success through his association with Preston.

“In the music industry, listening is the hardest commodity to come by,” Newhouse said. “He’s not going to convince anyone to listen to me.”

Newhouse also knows that someone can only get Preston’s success by working hard.

“There’s definitely no golden ticket to where Alex is,” Newhouse said.