Last summer, Mike Posner joined Justin Bieber’s summer “Believe” tour, playing in arenas and major venues across the country. But for a new string of headlining dates beginning later this month, the singer is taking the exact opposite route, trading big production for acoustic guitar, piano and small, intimate shows.
Today (March 4), Posner announced his new Unplugged tour. Running seven dates in major U.S. markets, the tour will highlight music new and old from the songwriter and producer’s discography, including new material from upcoming album “Pages,” while also giving fans a shot at learning more than might be found on a mere Wikipedia page with stories and Q&A sessions breaking up the tunes.
“For the last year or so, we’ve been doing a lot of speaking events, whether it’s visiting my old high school or Chicago Ideas Week — things of that nature,” Posner tells Billboard. “I really enjoyed the interaction at all of them. Sometimes I think people get as much, if not more, out of Q&A sessions or a story about a hardship or a battle to overcome. I know that’s not a customary thing to do on a tour, but, you know, there’s no roof. I know it’ll be very fulfilling for both me and my fans.”
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The unplugged sets will feature little more than Posner on predominantly acoustic instruments, save for the potential live production on “a song or two” — much like, he says, how much of his music starts.
“This is going to be a treat for my most loyal fans that have supported me through the years,” Posner says. “I’ve never been able to present my music in this fashion, over just an acoustic guitar or just a piano. It’s how most of my music is written, so it’s incredibly exciting for me as a performer to get to play these sorts of really small venues. Of course, having toured last year and doing arenas with Justin Bieber, it’s fun to do the opposite.”
The former Duke University student, who hit the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 in 2010 with “Cooler Than Me” (No. 6), will begin the tour March 31 at the World Cafe in Philadelphia, before wrapping up April 10 at Los Angeles’ The Mint. The string of dates also includes a hometown show in Posner’s native Detroit — his first such show, he says, in around two years.
The tour is sure to feature some of Posner’s older material, but he’ll also be premiering new music from “Pages,” his sophomore album (RCA), which is due this summer. It marks the singer’s first LP since his debut “31 Minutes to Takeoff” back in 2010 and came about after a particularly trying time in his career.
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“After graduating from college and realizing a lot of my dreams — a record deal, hit songs — I discovered that these so-called trophies, if you will, weren’t making me happier, and as someone who struggled with depression growing up, I always thought that once I got signed and made some money that it’d solve all the problems I had on the inside, but of course that’s so naive in hindsight and, in a lot of ways, it made my problems worse,” Posner says, noting that he nearly gave up recording music at all.
Instead, “Pages” came about after an airplane ride two years ago, during which he had a “nasty airline veggie sandwich.” It inspired him to make an album for which every copy sold would equal a meal he and his party would serve to a child in need — something that’s explained in the intro to the video of “Top of the World,” one of the album’s initial singles, dropped last December.
“I got off the plane and I ended up partnering with the Food Bank For New York City, who have partners all over the country,” he explains. “A lot of my friends who I wrote or produced songs for came back and helped me make ‘Pages.’ It’s better than I ever could have imagined.”
Those friends include Big Sean, featured on “Top of the World,” and 2 Chainz, who dropped by on the song “Living My Life” that hit the Internet late last year. Posner says “Pages” will also include collaborations from Justin Bieber, for whom he helped write the pop star’s big hit “Boyfriend,” and Labrinth, who had a top 40 hit in the U.S. last year with “Beneath Your Beautiful” (again, featuring a Posner co-writing credit).
Posner also revealed that, likely prior to the release of “Pages,” he’ll drop “…Featuring Me,” a collection of “hitherto unreleased music, featuring me,” including “other people’s music that I helped with.” The project currently does not have much more of a release timeframe.
Check out the full string of tour dates for Posner’s Unplugged tour below. Tickets are on sale Friday (March 7), with certain dates — New York and Los Angeles — 21-and-up, while all others are for all ages. All tickets are $20 and will be available on Posner’s website or Facebook.
March 31 – Philadelphia, Pa. (World Cafe Live)
April 1 – Boston, Mass. (Foundation Room at House of Blues)
April 3 – New York, N.Y. (Rockwood Music Hall)
April 6 – Detroit, Mich. (City Theatre)
April 7 – Chicago, Ill. (Schubas Tavern)
April 9 – San Francisco, Calif. (Rickshaw Stop)
APril 10 – Los Angeles, Calif. (The Mint)