Kelly Clarkson

03/26/2004 AT 01:00 PM EST

Kelly Clarkson isn't alone much as she winds her way through a 30-city tour – "Miss Independent" has fellow American Idol alum Clay Aiken to share the bill and the fun. Clarkson, 21, the show's original champ and a Grammy nominee, wraps up her Acuvue Advance Independent Tour on April 16 in St. Paul, Minn. But in the meantime, she's keeping busy by playing games with Clay and keeping tabs on her – and his – eccentric fans.

PEOPLE recently caught up with the singer and learned how she's managing to stay low-key in the spotlight.

How is it being on the road with Clay?
He's just a laid back, simple guy – just like me. Well, simple girl like me. We get along real well. ... We just started getting to know each other the past couple of weeks.

How are the fans? Any crazy experiences?
This is a question for Clay – his fans are kind of crazy. Mine are funny. I've had a group of girls – I call them the red-shirt girls – they sent me a big triple-Z bra and it said "We support you Kelly" across it. I know Clay got a rose bouquet, but they were panties. Like rolled up panties made to look like roses.

With two entertainers on the road, the companionship must be nice. What do you do to pass the time?
We were on the bus the other day playing Scrabble, and I'm trying to beat Clay so I can say I'm the Scrabble queen. But then the bus hit a big bump and all the Scrabble pieces hit the floor. We haven't gotten to finish a game yet. I'm going to beat him, but he just doesn't know yet. I remember how mad I got – I know I was winning!

Does it feel weird touring with runner-up Clay and not fellow Idol winner Ruben Studdard?
Not so much, I wasn't really planning on touring with anyone – then ... I found out that he was touring at the same time and I thought, Why don't we just tour together? We just hooked up.

Justin Guarini recently complained about how the record label treated him. What do you think of that?
It's good for him. He wanted to do his own music and he wanted to get away from the whole American Idol thing and he wanted to separate himself. He got what he wanted. It's definitely a good thing. He's so talented -- he's going to be back no doubt with a great CD and great music.

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