Christina Perri's Guide To Healthy Touring

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ChristinaPerri03_043_FNLPhotographed By Winnie Au; Illustrated By Emily Kowzan.
You probably know Christina Perri from her breakout single, "Jar of Hearts" — but you might not know she's totally committed to a healthy lifestyle, especially when she's on tour. Perri's new album, Head or Heart, drops April 1, and then she'll embark on a two-month tour across the U.S. and Canada. Ahead, how Perri stays centered on the road — and why she'll be bringing her SoulCycle bike with her on tour.

What does your health and wellness picture look like when you’re on the road?
When I’m on the road, it’s the most difficult. I think everybody who tours would agree that it’s more challenging. You know, to live in New York or L.A., it’s really easy to be healthy, but when you are on a bus in the middle of Oklahoma at a gas station, there is like no kale option or juices. It’s really, really hard and I had to figure a way to stay healthy.

What did you do?
I guess I just had to take control and do it myself. I remember really early on making a rule on the bus that was “no sugar,” so we cut out all white, granulated sugar. It's not allowed on the tour bus because what happens with bands is we’re all up at three in the morning watching movies and eating bowl after bowl after bowl of, like, Lucky Charms. It’s just inevitable. My band is always like, “Oh, no,” at the beginning, but by the end of the tour they’re so happy that we didn’t bring sugar onto the bus because then we would have eaten candy bars and all that stuff.

I feel like I made a lot of rules, honestly, and everybody’s normally really happy about that. I did green smoothies. Basically, any town we get to we’ll [buy] fresh fruit and vegetables, and then I can make my own juices. I tend to eat my greens in a blender and I did that every morning. I do a green juice. I also don’t drink or do drugs and I think that really helps, because I think that would knock out any ambition to stay healthy.

I imagine actually performing is really challenging, too.
When I'm on the road, it’s like I’m an athlete. It is just an insane amount of work. [Because my last tour was so demanding] I really decided to take care of myself. This time – I’m going on tour in a week – I’m bringing my SoulCycle bike. I really got obsessed with SoulCycle. I got my own bike. I’m bringing it. I got playlists from my two favorite instructors, and I’m going to spin every show day. It’s exciting.
ChristinaPerri03_070_FNLPhotographed By Winnie Au; Illustrated By Emily Kowzan.
How are you able to maintain any sort of fitness regimen on the road? Are there any other studio classes you're able to hit when you're on the road?
No. To be quite honest, I hated working out until I found SoulCycle. When we were on tour with the band, we would do yoga or we would run around the venue. You go crazy after awhile when you’re sleeping on a bus, even though the show is kind of a workout in itself. I remember trying to find a thing that I really liked. I felt like everybody had a thing except me. I went to SoulCycle one time in New York — to Stacy Griffith’s class — and literally my life changed. I was sobbing. The angels came down. I just had a crazy moment, so from that moment on I became obsessed with it.

I spun, I think, every single day I was in New York. I came back to L.A. and I cycled every day I could. I was making my album, so I was kind of in one place for periods of weeks, which is not my reality anymore. So, then I was like, “I gotta buy a bike, because I’m going to bring it.” So, now, every venue, I’m clearly going to roll in my bike. I’m going to be using my SoulCycle bike in every venue. It’s going to be so rad. I’m so excited.
ChristinaPerri03_187_FNLPhotographed By Winnie Au; Illustrated By Emily Kowzan.
When you’re at work on an album, what’s the balance with remaining healthy while you’re so invested in creating this creative product?
Well, I’ll be quite honest, I had to drink a lot of chocolate milkshakes making my album. There’s a lot of chocolate — a lot of things that help a hurting heart.

While I was making my album, I probably didn’t put my health first, but that felt very like it was supposed to go that way. I was such an emotional wreck that I was in a different kind of space. It’s the same as if you’re painting a giant painting or you're writing a book, you’re really not super-present and balanced — but I don’t think you’re supposed to be.

Now, I feel really good and together and that’s where I’m supposed to be right now. If I hadn’t jumped in with two feet to the whole emotional aspect of writing this album and then recording the album [it wouldn't have been as successful]. I didn’t spin. I was in London for eight weeks. I was in this little hotel — I felt like I was living in Harry Potter — there was no internet, definitely no gym, definitely no SoulCycle, and just tons and tons of pie. I was like, “Whatever”. I was crying every day, so there was a lull in my self-care. But, it doesn’t matter because I came out of it and I’m taking care of myself now. And, that’s just realistic.

We go through phases, I think. It did make me want to get home and take care of myself. There’s a time and a place for that. I’m not perfect. I know I won’t spin everyday. I’m going to be exhausted some days or just not feeling it. That’s the cool thing is that I kind of learned that it’s really always up to me. I can’t be hard on myself, but I can pretty much be proud of myself when I do any of this stuff because it’s better than doing nothing.
ChristinaPerri03_275_FNLPhotographed By Winnie Au; Illustrated By Emily Kowzan.
You said you don’t drink and do drugs. People think of the music industry as full of that stuff. How do you deal with not being a part of that?
I just have no desire to do it. I get into this crazy mode where I put my work first, and I just don’t want to be at all not present for it. I spent a lot of my life — like teenage years and my early 20s — missing out on things. Then I stopped everything and I like that way better. I feel like since I have the experience of both, I just choose to be the really present person. I’m not that cool. I sit on the bus and read books. It’s funny because we’re a band and on tour, but our band and I are really nerdy. We go to museums. It’s actually easier [to not drink] than you think. Everybody certainly has an idea of what it’s like on tour, and it’s a little bit different in real life. I could easily go the other way, but I choose to be super-healthy.

What would you say are the defining characteristics of the new album? What are you most proud of?
Everything. I’m so terrified of it coming out because I love it so much. I feel so connected to this album. Maybe because I just grew in so many places that I think people will really notice, and that’s really exciting.

Sonically, I just amped it up. I toured for 27 months, so I got better at my instruments. I got better at guitar, better at piano, and I definitely got better at singing because I had vocal chord surgery in the middle of my whole first album cycle. I got a whole new voice. It’s me singing the background vocals on every song, which is new for me, too. It’s all teeny little details that, for me, are very exciting.

Also, the songwriting is more dynamic than I’ve written before. The first album, I didn’t really realize it was a breakup album until I made another album and realized what isn’t a breakup album.

In this album, there a couple of songs about me. That’s brand new. I’ve never really written songs about figuring out how I am. That’s new and exciting. Also, I have two really, really happy songs that I didn’t even think I was capable of doing, but I captured falling in love, which is awesome. And, obviously, I’ve got my classic breakup songs. Overall, I couldn’t be more proud of it.

Whether people like it or not, I’m in this really cool place, because now I’m rehearsing every day and I’m about to bring it on tour, and I realize I like every song. I’m trying to fit every song from the album into my live show, and I think that’s really rare. I’m terrified because I’m so close with it, but it’s that good kind of terrified. I like doing things that scare me and challenging myself, and this is my biggest challenge.

Can you tell me about your tour? Where are you starting off?
[We] start off in Denver on April 4. April 16 at 17 Irving Plaza. I know that April 16 is sold out, but I’m doing two nights, so April 17 might be available. And then L.A. on May 17. Then I end in Vancouver on May 26, so it’s a nice two-month tour. I’m excited.