Steve Perry on vocal health, performing live, and the one time he did drugs
Was reading this interview with Steve Perry where he talked a lot about the wear and tear of touring and the psychology of singing live night after night. Would love to hear from anybody who's got experience singing live and taking care of their voice when there's ticket sales on the line. Was Perry just missing some self care tools, or is this what it's like for anybody singing live?
Perry: Well, what I’m about to say—I’m gonna come across as a prima donna, but if there’s any singers out there reading this at this point, they’ll understand completely. You must put that in there, the preface, because it’s important. Everybody thinks singers are prima donnas. And to a degree I guess we are. But at the same time, the difference between a voice and fingers, or hands, is neurotic at best. When someone’s fingers get calluses on them, the guitar doesn’t hurt so bad. It feels better. Same for the bass. Same for the piano player, when his fingers get callused and strong. When a drummer gets calluses on his hands, they no longer chafe and they no longer blister, and that’s fantastic. The moment a singer gets one callus, he’s finished. Singers live on the edge of being powerful, being strong, and not degrading their voice, and it’s the most difficult edge to walk. You feel like you’re on a high-wire all the time. And the pressure of walking in front of an audience every night, and wanting to be what you know they want you to be, and what you want to be for them, and to have this silly little thing in your throat that’s about as neurotic as you are, is difficult. So it can make any singer a little crazy. It can make you just live your life in a state of insecurity and fear. Until you walk out there and open your mouth, and you see what you got, and then it tells you if it’s gonna be a fun evening or not.
Interviewer: And I imagine it’s much harder to take care of it.
Perry: Well, how do you do that and use it at the same time? It’s a very fine line. Like I said, using it can cause the problem. Using your fingers makes ‘em better. So it’s always a fine, artful dance. So at the end of a night, you feel great. I delivered what I wanted to do, I hit the notes, I feel good about it—but you don’t know how much you used up until tomorrow morning. And the tickets have already been sold. The next show is sold out. Only one night did I have to have a shot of B12 with an anti-inflammatory. That was in Dallas, Texas, because I got to a sound check and realized that people were lined up outside and I had half a voice. So that night we got a doctor to give me a shot. Which singers will do a lot—but I only had to do it once.