Charlie Puth Shares Honda Civic Tour Highlights & the 'Couple Jams' It Inspired
Last month, Charlie Puth wrapped The Honda Civic Tour, which saw the 26-year-old headlining amphitheaters across North America and playing iconic venues like New York's Radio City Music Hall and Los Angeles' Greek Theatre. The majority of the crowds were upwards of 20,000 for each date, meaning Puth performed to more than 200,000 people in a matter of weeks.
"To me, it is really about the amount of people who are in there," Puth says, "because it just makes it so much more fun."
But "fun" is a modest way for Puth to assess his latest tour. While the 30-date trek was the biggest tour of his career thus far, it was also pretty transformative for Puth as both a songwriter and a performer. The "Attention" singer said in a video tour diary that the tour helped his songwriting, and he spent a majority of the show away from his piano -- a big personal step for the singer/songwriter.
Though Puth is much more comfortable on big stages ("It's kind of this weird juxtaposition," he says), his next show will revert back to his beginnings. The New Jersey native will be playing New York City's 700-person Highline Ballroom on Oct. 5 for JetBlue Mastercard cardmembers, giving some lucky fans an intimate Charlie Puth experience.
Billboard chatted with Puth ahead of the special show to hear about his Honda Civic Tour highlights and takeaways, including a couple of tour-inspired new tunes.
How did this tour feel different from your first two as a headliner?
This time around, I really got to see how wide and diverse my fan base is. I saw girls and boys as young as five years old in the front row, and right next to them were grandparents who were fans of me. I got to see it almost every night, so it inspired me to create more records on the road.
How do you feel like you’ve grown as a performer?
The biggest thing for me when I even started touring a couple of years ago was to just get off of the piano. I had been so afraid of leaving the piano. Now it's kind of just like, "not giving a shit" attitude -- even though I do care. I care about giving the best performance that I can give, but not overthinking so many things.
Kind of like when I'm in the studio... it's the same "not overthinking" attitude. You don't want to overthink a melody or chord progression because then it'll become rigid. The same thing translates live, and you don't want to overthink your small movements. I'm not dancing or anything like that, but you know what I mean.
Was there a show that marked a turning point for you getting more comfortable with leaving your piano?
Yeah, when I played San Francisco when 22,000 people came to see me perform that night [Aug. 17 at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California]. I was just looking at everybody, saying to myself, "There are 22,000 people here." I could have never have imagined playing in front of 22,000 people.
Did any of your Voicenotes tracks spark a reaction that made you change the way you view the song?
My song "Boy." [The reaction] made me look at that song differently. That song has a kind of cult following attached to it, which is really cool. It was later in the set as well, and people lost their mind every night when it came on.
I think it's because the title is a bit shocking. Before you even listen to the song. It's like, "Charlie Puth puts out a song called 'Boy.' I wonder what this is about." And then it's exactly the opposite of what you judged it by its title, if you know what I mean.
Was there a song that was the most fun to sing?
The most fun for me is "Attention," because I don't have to sing it at all. It's wild. Everyone sings each part of that song like it's the chorus. And "How Long" -- that was a joyride, playing that record, because I had to do a four-minute keytar solo and I think people were not expecting that.
[Also] the more intimate moments like playing "Change," and not telling everybody to put their lighters up -- but they just do it off the reaction of the song. Feeling that every night was really special too.
How did the tour impact your songwriting?
When I'm writing a record, the most important thing to me is the key of the song. Make sure the key of the song is in an appropriate vocal range for both boys and girls, and anybody. When you're surrounded by fans who are singing along every lyric to songs that are already out, you start to remember what their voices sound like when you leave the stage. You have that in mind when you're making a new record that no one's heard yet. I always have my fans' voices in my head, but more so than ever when I just get off stage and I go right to the studio.
Did anything you experienced on this tour result in new songs?
The first night in Canada, there was a rep from Live Nation, and he -- without giving it away -- he said that I reminded him of an artist that he represented for many years, and one artist that I look up to. It kind of inspired this one song that I worked on tirelessly, continuously, for the entire tour. I have a couple jams. I'm excited for people to hear the next phase.
Is that part of the reason why Elton John called you the other day? I saw your tweet about that crazy text.
No, Elton had just wanted to talk to me for a while. That was a pleasure, talking to him about music. I feel like I get to talk to all the people I look up to -- Herbie Hancock texting me, talking about jazz and pop music, Elton John. The list goes on. It's really wild.