Charlie Puth talks new tour, third album and what drives his creativity

Charlie Puth
Charlie Puth will stop in Philly on the 13th.

With countless hits for both himself and other artists (the list could go on and on) singer/songwriter Charlie Puth is cemented as a huge fixture in the music industry today. His third studio album, ‘Charlie, was released in October, and most of it was conceived during COVID-19. Some fans had a taste of the action on social media.

Now back on tour and back to the stage, Puth sat down to chat more about being in front of audiences again for The “Charlie’ Live Experience and what the future holds for this multi-faceted and talented performer.

Charlie Puth
Puth will be in Philadelphia on June 13thCourtesy of Wasserman

You spent time working on your third studio album, ‘Charlie, and posted about it on TikTok a lot. How was that and getting that audience feedback?

I think that some of my better music was made after I got off stage or when I was in front of people, or [when] I invited people to the studio. It’s almost like I’m performing for them. I’m politely uncomfortable, but I have to kind of amp things up a little bit—it just keeps me on my toes.

At the beginning of the pandemic, that kind of took the place of real-life crowds, my internet audience. So it wasn’t that I was asking them “Hey, are you guys okay with this melody?” But it was more just the act of them being there in the room with me while I was creating and kind of as I was making the song.

From your new album, which song do you now enjoy performing live?

‘Light Switch is definitely one of the most fun ones to perform, just because the audience has seen the creation of the songs and they have seen the inception of them and the birth of them…So I guess my fans connected to the song because they were there from the very beginning. They saw it grow up.  

Coming back on tour after COVID shut down live performances for so long, does the performing experience feel different at all to you?

It feels louder to be completely honest. We’ve already done one show in Mexico City and I’ve never performed there before, so I didn’t expect a very large turnout. But over 6,000 people showed up at a place that I’ve never been to, and it feels like they’ve been to a hundred shows before. The audience’s reaction was more intense and their voices were louder than my tour five years ago. It makes me feel like I’ve grown a little bit as an artist, but maybe I’ve just interacted with the fans a little bit better. 

What would you tell fans coming out to see you to expect from this tour specifically?

I’d tell them to expect a little bit of theater. I’s not like I’m Ben Platt or an experienced Broadway actor or anything like that, I’ve just always admired elements of it and being slightly camped and interrupting a song in the middle of its performance and memorizing dialogue and making the big amphitheater feel like a small room [where] I can directly speak to my fans. It’s very interactive, and it’s like a video game in a way. 

You’re one of the only people I’ve gotten to interview that has perfect pitch. When did you realize that you had it?

 I grew up in a church close to my house where I would hear the same music every Sunday. And I seriously think that’s where it came from, just from repetition and hearing the same songs performed in the same way for such a long time. I just memorized them like I was memorizing vocabulary words on flashcards and I would memorize pitches like I’d memorize information that I’d have to memorize for a test. 

I just thought everybody could do that. But apparently, it’s this rare thing. But it’s not essential to make music. There are plenty of brilliant songs written by people who don’t have it. It’s like having slightly wider tires when you’re driving off-road, I guess. But it’s not essential to write a great song, anybody can write a great song. But it’s slightly more helpful. 

You also have plenty of experience writing songs for yourself and for others. Any collaborations that stand out to you, and will we hear any on your tour?

I think ‘Stay’ by The Kid LAROI is one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever been a part of. We do a little rendition of that, me and my band, for this show. And ‘Slow Motion’ by Trey Songz. A song that we’re not performing but one that I do love is the one I wrote with Elton John for ‘The Lockdown Sessions’ album in his grandiose, very English-sounding manner. I felt very fortunate and I feel very fortunate to have written for so many great artists that I looked up to for a really long time.

You’ve mentioned that this album in particular works well for big venues, but what is the best part of playing live whether in big or small spots?

We’re playing bigger venues now because of it, which is again, really humbling in itself. It’s the goal for me no matter what size the venue is to always make it feel intimate. And I believe that we accomplished that on this tour. When there are thousands of people in the room, inside or outside, you can sometimes feel a bit convoluted and it’s overwhelming. Especially for people’s first concert, you want them to feel like I’m just talking directly to them. So I hope that we can accomplish that and I think we do.

And what’s next for Charlie Puth?

Every time I go on tour, I think of the next album and I’m working on the next album already. I think we’ll maybe put some songs out this year from the next project—and the next project sounds dramatically different from the third album that we just put out in October. But they somehow musically will compliment each other. It’s not like oil and vinegar, but it will be completely different.
Catch Charlie Puth with The “Charlie” Live Experience Tour on June 13 at the TD Pavilion at The Mann.