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Sam Smith talks about touring, therapy, not smoking and not lip syncing

Sam Smith talks about the just-started tour that will bring him to Chicago in August, cutting out alcohol and smoking and starting therapy. | AP

NEW YORK — Sam Smith knows his music is melancholy and emotional but hopes his live shows will feel “like a fistful of love.”

The singer, known for down-tempo hits like “Stay With Me” and “Too Good at Goodbyes,” is launching a U.S. tour that will see him perform Aug. 15 at the United Center and at arenas he played three years ago when his 2014 debut album “In the Lonely Hour” dominated the charts.

“With this tour, I got to choose songs, I got to really decide what type of show and tour this is,” says Smith, who released his second album, “The Thrill of It All,” in November.

In an interview, Smith spoke about the tour, cutting out alcohol and smoking and starting therapy.

Question: How have you been prepping for this tour?

Answer: I’m trying to really discover other joys in life instead of going out drinking and going clubbing. I’ve completely stopped drinking. I’m working out. I have my trainer on the road with me, which is amazing. I work out every day.

I’m just being super, super, super healthy. Making sure I go to bed after the shows and rest my voice. It’s really looking after myself as much as I can.

Q: Have you cut out smoking?

A: Yes. The last year or so, I’m embarrassed to say that I did — I fell into the pit of smoking cigarettes. I’m battling it. I’m not smoking at all at the moment. When I have my time off in between shows, I find it really difficult. But I’m pretty certain and sure that I’ve kicked it now. I have to. It’s so bad for you. It’s just affecting my voice. It affects my mood as well.

Q: You sing live every night. How does it feel when you see others lip sync?

A: In general, I find it sad. … I’m pretty sure some people sing a bit here and there and mime a bit during the show because they’re dancing so hard. Then, I understand that because I’m not a dancer, and I don’t know how it feels. If you’re singing for a bit of it live, then I get it.

Q: Do you get to go to concerts?

A: Yeah, I go to shows quite a lot. I try to see all the big pop shows. I saw Beyonce’s “Lemonade” stadium tour. I’m watching all of her “On the (Run Tour)” stuff online. I’m just obsessed. It’s just incredible to watch.

My dream person to see that I haven’t seen is Robyn. I just really want to see her live. I think I’d just cry the whole time.

Q: How’s it been performing songs from your latest album?

A: Sometimes, when I’m singing these songs, I worry because I know they are very dark.

“In the Lonely Hour” — I felt that it was melancholy but there was hopefulness to the songs because I was hoping the man I loved loved me back. And I think during the period of “The Thrill of It All,” I really was a bit stuck, and I was in a place where I just felt very confused about fame and felt that love was nowhere to be seen. I look back on that time and sometimes I’m almost upset with how dark it was and wish I could have written a happier record. But it was honest, and it was me.

I’ve already started writing quite a lot for my third record. . . . It’s just feeling a little more up. Never too happy. But I’m feeling a lot more confident as a songwriter, which is really, really nice.

Q: Is what you’re writing now a reflection of how you feel now? It seems like you’re happier.

A: Oh, yeah, completely. I’m a lot happier now then I was. I still have my down days. After releasing the record, I got into a really happy place, and it was great, and then had a massive low a few months afterward. I started therapy recently, and I’m starting to truly understand that you can’t be happy all the time.

And life is like a sea, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s calm, and then sometimes it’s crazy and stormy. And you’ve just got to ride it, I guess.

I still find parts of my life really, really challenging and difficult. And I get very, very sad sometimes. But I have the tools now. And I’m trying to work out the tools, how to stay happy . . . . And remembering that I’m good by myself as well. I think alone time is really important.

Sam Smith is just starting a tour behind his latest album, “The Thrill of It All.” | AP
Sam Smith is just starting a tour behind his latest album, “The Thrill of It All.” | AP