King of the classical charts on two continents, Russell Watson pulls a platinum hat trick, charms the Prince of Wales, and impresses the First Lady of the U.S., before kickboxing his way into Men's Fitness.
MF: What does the title of "The People's Tenor" mean to you?
RW: "The People's Tenor" is an affectionate tag that I was labeled with right around the first record. I think it was born from the fact that I'm of a working class background and my parents were working class. The press picked up on the sort of working class "lad done good," hence the label, "The People's Tenor."
MF: Do you have any backstage rituals?
RW: I try and stay away from the venue right until the last minute. I usually go right about 2, 3 'o clock and I'll do an hour of rehearsing, maybe an hour and a half then I'll go back to the hotel and I'll have something to eat that's going to give me a little bit of protein and an energy kick, some steak and some boiled rice, but nothing that's creamy or anything that's going to cause a problem. Always at the side of the stage I have some strawberries cause I find that they're good to lubricate my voice, water, maybe a couple of cans of Red Bull if I'm feeling tired I'll just throw down a little bit of caffeine which isn't particularly good.
MF: Red bull's like a miracle substance
RW: It is! But it's also laden with sugar and caffeine that can dry up the vocal chords. But as long as I take plenty of water with it, it gives me a little boost.
MF: I know many vocalists follow a strict diet so as to not interfere with their voices; do you follow any sort of a diet that works for both your voice and for kickboxing?
RW: On vocal days I would eat very differently to the way that I would eat on a regular day. I would avoid anything at all that's creamy or milky like cheese or eggs. More recently I was touring Australasia, and during that tour I discovered that mashed potato wasn't really working for me. I find that my weight fluctuates from the start of a tour and when I finish I'll usually have lost four or five pounds. So that's not always a good thing.
MF: Not always a bad thing either
RW: No, it depends on whether you're me or Pavarotti I guess.
MF: Funny you should say that because there's another one of my questions. What do you think of the stereotype of the male opera singer- the kind of rotund, bearded old man?
RW: I think it's changing very quickly and I think with the intervention of artists like myself and maybe Josh Groban that old stereotypical view and the image of a bearded bloke with a barrel stomach is starting to disappear very quickly.
MF: What kind of party does an opera singer has when a record goes platinum? What do you do?
RW: Oh, a good party! (laughs) The interesting thing about the music industry is that it's not always as glamorous as people might think. I could be in an airport, I could be taking my dog for a walk or even cooking chili con carne on a Friday afternoon and you get a call- your record's gone platinum! It's such a huge rush. But achieving things in the music industry is like achieving things in any industry and when you find out that your record's gone platinum then you kind of collect yourself and say "okay what's next?"
MF: And it makes the next time all the more daunting.