Sam Smith is back on the circuit to promote his new music — an already released single, “Too Good at Goodbyes” and an upcoming sophomore album following his debut album, In The Lonely Hour, that went on to be the biggest-selling of 2014.
On Thursday (Sept. 14), Smith sat down to chat with SiriusXM’s 1 on 1 with Larry Flick. After admitting that his one-and-a-half year hiatus wasn’t as relaxing as it could have been due to his own reckless behavior, Smith admitted that acting reckless wasn’t all bad because it produced new music that is representative of him.
“Since In the Lonely Hour, I do feel calmer and more in control and, I don’t know, I’m less reckless,” he told Flick. “This album I pressed the self-destruct button a little bit — when I was writing it, I was going out too much. I was drinking too much. I had a great time, and it never got too out of control, but I just wasn’t respecting myself. I didn’t like myself. And the last three months, I’ve really started to enjoy my own company and like myself.”
He adds, “The music did benefit at the time. When I was at my most reckless, I was writing the worst songs. The album’s insanely personal and emotional. I won’t go there again. I won’t go to the place I was when I wrote this album because it’s stupid and dangerous, and it’s not worth it.”
The first taste of what’s to come is “Too Good At Goodbyes,” which was released on Sept. 8 and sounds like what Flick called a classic Sam Smith record with slow piano. And even though the world proved to Smith that they love what he has sang to them so far, he was still uneasy as Sept. 8 approached.
“It was really not a fun night,” he told Flick. “And the week before wasn’t fun. I’ve been away for a year and a half. I only have one album out. I just didn’t know if people were there ready to listen to me again. Honestly, I mean that. My life has been so beautifully normal for the last year and a half that I just forgot about my job and what I do, and I just felt very raw and naked in that moment. Also, with the second record, I think people decide in that moment, ‘Do we want to have you back or do we not?'”
“When you listen to the record, there is a lot of songs on the record which are different production-wise. But it wasn’t me trying to play it safe. That wasn’t what it was. I don’t think it was playing it safe because if you listen to the music on radio nowadays, it isn’t playing it safe. There was other tunes we had on the record that were just more produced. But I just wanted it to be about my voice.”
To write the forthcoming album — a title and release date have yet to be confirmed — Smith tweaked the music he was consuming, telling Flick,” I genuinely think [what I listen to is] the key. When I was writing that first album, I was just such a huge pop-head. I was listening to Britney [Laughs.] And they’re amazing pop songs as well, and they’re amazingly written, but my depth of music — I still listen to a lot of Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston, but it was all quite pop. And when it came to this record, I started studying Joni Mitchell. I really went into Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits and looked at the songwriting. Etta James, the lyrics in those songs. Still, all females again… I really just started to look at lyrics and structures of songs a bit more.”
Admittedly, one thread remains between In the Lonely Hour and what’s to come from Smith: heartbreak and vulnerability. He said that “Too Good at Goodbyes” was written about a guy he was in a relationship with last year. “The whole album is an album that is about many different things, different stories, but I wanted to open up with this because it’s about me, and I think that’s where I left people,” he continued. “In The Lonely Hour was about me and my relationships, and I just wanted to come back with something that just updated you on my love life, which is still going terribly.
Along those same lines, Smith said, “This album is — I’ve managed to write about things and about other people and other people’s pain. I’ll never write happy songs, but I will always — when I write music, I’m able now to talk about people that are close to me. Family, friends, and just about other things that move me.”
1 on 1 with Larry Flick airs daily on SiriusXM’s Entertainment Weekly Radio from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern.