Spanish heartthrob Pablo Alborán has been all over the world, but on Nov. 5 he embarked on his first U.S. tour, hitting up major cities including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and more.
As he’ll tell you, his intention is for people to really get to know him. “I think a lot of times as artists, on our first tour, we’ll have one light, then on the second tour, we’ll want three lights, then on the next one, we’ll want a huge screen, then we want fireworks — it’s always more, more, more, and you tend to forget where you came from,” he told Billboard before the start of the tour. “So for this first U.S. tour I want to go back to basics. For a lot of the songs it will just be me and my guitar, or my piano, and of course, I’m also bringing my band so we can offer the same experience we’ve been giving in Spain and Latin America. But I really crave going back to that sort of simplicity, the nakedness of it all, from when I started five years ago.”
But when he’s not onstage, what’s it like for the 26-year-old pop phenomenon, who’s also up for three Latin Grammys Nov. 19? Here, he gives us a glimpse of his life on the road, including some close encounters with fans in hotels!
If you want a taste of what he sounds like live, all you have to do is listen to his Tour Terral: Tres Noches en las Ventas, which perfectly captures the magic of the Pablo Alborán live experience.
What’s the craziest fan encounter you’ve had on the road?
Wow, pretty much everything has happened. They’ve snuck into my hotel room. The other day I was in, I don’t even remember where, but I had just taken a shower when I heard a knock on the door. So I put on a towel and when I look through the hole, it’s a group of fans taking photos of the hotel room number. I thought it was maybe someone from my team or my parents, but when I looked it was fans and they just kept taking photos of the door. It was surreal.
That’s that crazy, irrational love they have for you!
Well, I don’t know if they’d still be in love had I opened the door [laughs] but yes, there’s so much love, even if in that moment I’m thinking, ‘my god!’ I always have fun with my fans and I think all those anecdotes are something to laugh about.
In your songs, you really know how to capture that raw feeling of a heart that’s been shredded into tiny little pieces. How do you do that?
I think we all know what that feels like. Even when we think someone’s not going to break our heart, that’s when it happens. “Recuérdame” used to a song that really hurt when I sang it but then after a while it stops hurting and it’s like therapy. But it’s pure masochism; the relationship is over and you’re begging this person to remember you, saying, ‘I hope he doesn’t touch you the way I touched you, or kiss you the way I kissed you.’ It’s like a telenovela [laughs]. But that’s love. I like how people interpret it in different ways.
What was the first concert that you went to as a fan that changed your life?
It was a Portuguese singer-songwriter, Dulce Pontes. I was five years old. She winked at me and I ran away from my seat; my parents wanted to kill me. I got up onstage and sang with her. She held my hand, I was terrified, but I took it as a sign. Not sure if it was a good or bad sign [laughs].
What do you do right before going onstage?
I hang out with my musicians, we try to hang out for like 10 minutes just talking and laughing, relaxing, de-stressing. I try to breathe, concentrate, and I look up to the sky and ask that everything go well. I’m lucky because I’m like a bull when I go onstage, there’s no stopping me. Sometimes my team is like, ‘Pablo, we don’t go on for another 15 minutes,’ and I’m like, ‘Let’s do this now, I can’t wait!’
And how do you celebrate after a great concert?
Well, sometimes we have concerts back to back so I can’t really celebrate the way I’d like to, but I usually reserve a restaurant or a room somewhere for my team to get together. We’re always working and we’re always talking about work, but in these moments we try to just enjoy each other’s company. And if my family’s there, even better!
What’s your favorite meal after a show?
Sushi! I can eat pounds of sushi, plus it’s protein, so it’s good for you. And I’ll have a little white wine with it.
What’s something your fans made for you recently that really showed their creativity?
They’ve given me so many different kinds of gifts. Yesterday they gave me this giant wooden boat with my name on it; it’s beautiful. And someone named a star after me. Did you know you can do that? They went to some sort of astrological registry, not sure where, maybe in Madrid, and named a star after me. I’m dying to find out how they did it because it’s so romantic. It’s so good.
Oh, that’s good! You have to use that one again in the right context.
Oh yeah, I definitely will be using that one again [laughs].
What are some of the things you absolutely have to bring with you on tour?
I have my shaving kit because I have a beard and every two or three days I have to shave otherwise I look like Robinson Crusoe. I carry [honey bee] propolis for my throat; it’s a natural vitamin. I have this string bracelet around my ankle that my little niece gave me five or six years ago and it’s still there. I have a notebook filled with messages from fans that I carry with me and I look at it when I’m feeling tired or lonely and I say to myself, ‘My god, what a beautiful thing.’ I’m also a big fan of The Walking Dead — I’m obsessed with zombies — and American Horror Story, so I watch those DVDs in the hotels.