Michael Bublé hasn’t had an easy time out of the spotlight. The 43-year-old singer is fresh off a two-year hiatus from music, spent taking care of his 5-year-old son, Noah, who had been diagnosed with liver cancer. (He’s now in remission.) But on Nov. 16, Bublé will return with his 10th studio album, Love (styled as a heart emoji). Today, he’s finding that his re-emergence has brought a new set of obstacles, including rumors that he plans to retire from the industry. “Why would I do that?” he asks, seated at the Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles. He’s pensive but buoyant, and more aware of both himself and the world around him. “There was a time when I lost my identity,” he says. “I’m different than I used to be. I’m much happier and much sadder, but now I’m enjoying the good times.”
You reunited with producer David Foster on the album track “When I Fall in Love.” How did you coax him out of retirement?
He always makes me feel really protected and nurtured as an artist. You should see the things I say or write to him. I probably sound a lot more like Kanye West than Michael Bublé. I didn’t know if I was coming back. I said to him, “If I ever do, it has to be pure. I want to do the songs I love with the musicians I love.” That sparked an idea in both of us to come back and make this record together.
You mentioned in the past that you were insecure when you first started your career and reckless with people’s hearts.
I wasn’t some abusive douchebag asshole. I was self-centered and immature. I wish I was more honest about my feelings — like if I had fallen out of love, I could have just said that. There are a lot of people who would say I wasn’t nice. I moved around like a bull in a china shop within relationships, even with friendships sometimes. But I am who I am. I tell my kids every single day the same thing over and over: “You treat people how you want to be treated.”
How did you cope with your son’s diagnosis?
Every fiber of my being is different. I got into my mid-30s and lost the joy of what I did. I don’t think anyone thought I had fallen out of love with music. I think people were genuinely happy that my son was OK, that I was able to come back and be strong enough to do it. Through this recent experience, everything came full circle. When you go through health problems, shit gets so clear, and even on the shitty days you start to think it’s not so bad, and it gets better. It changes you. It changed me forever.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 10 issue of Billboard.