Interview: Katy Perry’s big road trip

Katy Perry
Katy Perry
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She’s a gossip columnist favourite, but Katy Perry tells Grace Hammond why she’d prefer to be cycling in Sheffield than on any red carpet.

Katy Perry is in nostalgic mood. It might only be six years since the release of I Kissed A Girl, the track which propelled her to international fame, but she’s packed a lot in since 2008.

“Right now I’m going through my storage unit that houses all of my clothes and costumes,” says Perry, who will perform her latest show at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena next week. “I’m having a lot of flashbacks figuring out what do I give away, what do I keep and working out whether any of those outfits hold strong memories.

“It’s been quite a colourful few years with a lot of hard work, a lot of excitement, a lot of purpose and a lot of fun. If it wasn’t fun I don’t think I would be running this fast still.”

This wasn’t the life Perry seemed destined to lead. With her parents both Pentecostal pastors, she had quite a sheltered upbringing. Singing in church from the age of nine, it was a lifestyle which gave her little exposure to chart music.

However, when she was talent spotted performing in Nashville it was the start of a journey which would lead her to Los Angeles and the offices of Capital Records.

Perry lives life at a fairly frenetic pace. Since 2007 she has released four albums, toured pretty much continually and become a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. She’s also squeezed in a short marriage to Russell Brand – it was just 14 months after the traditional Hindu ceremony in a Rajasthan tiger sanctuary that the stand-up filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. Perry has never been one to lay bare her private life and since the split has thrown all her energy into recording and touring. She’s just started her Prismatic World Tour which will see her perform 100 dates across the UK, America, Canada and Mexico.

“We have rehearsed more for this tour than any other and I’m really excited that we got to start in the UK because the energy here is wild and that’s what I wanted for the first shows.

“This tour is on another level, it’s different to the last one and the one thing I’ve said to anyone with tickets is don’t be late, because you really don’t want to miss the start.”

The UK leg has already seen Perry perform in Belfast and as well as Sheffield, she’ll also take in Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and London’s O2.

“I’ve organised this tour so I can really enjoy myself along the way,” she says. “I think it’s so impersonal that when you get on that stage the only thing you can say is , ‘Hello, Sheffield’.

“I mean what about Sheffield? I should know exactly what Sheffield is like, where the coolest pubs are, where the best fish and chips are. I like to go out and find out those things. We always bring bikes and cycle round to find the best parks. Sometimes we go out the morning of a show and give tickets out along the way - although no one knows it’s me because I wear a hat and sunglasses.

“I’m an adventure junkie when I’m on tour – it’s really just a road trip in disguise.”

Perry clearly feels at home on stage and like Lady Gaga the live show is as much about theatrics as it is about the music.

“The writing and making of a record is exciting, but it’s also like you are sitting on a golden egg. A tour is the fruits of your labour – it’s the evidence of all that hard work right then and there. The writing of a record can be somewhat mentally exhausting, the tour is physically exhausting – it’s moving two different types of muscles.”

Perry has been writing songs since as long as she can remember and while the tone has changed, they all have one thing in common.

“I only really know how to write about what I’ve gone through,” she says. “I think people relate to the vulnerability and honesty I try to bring into the songs, but some aren’t that deep – some are just for going out, getting ready and putting make-up on.

“I know the super-fans really like By the Grace of God from the Prism album. I’ve heard 
it help kids feel as if they 
aren’t so alone in whatever situation they are going through. I think the willingness to share and be open helps people feel safer.”

• Katy Perry, Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield, May 23. 0114 256 2002, www.motorpointarena.co.uk