NEW YORK - Michael Buble recently received a cassette tape of his first performance ever, but it didn't bring back pleasant memories.
"I was absolutely terrible. I didn't know how to get in and out of the song," the 34-year-old said of a performance when he was 16. "At that point I didn't understand the form of a song. So wrong, so terrible."
But even though he went through an awkward stage as a performer, he was convinced that singing was in his future.
His faith paid off. His first three CDs have gone gold, platinum, and triple-platinum, and his newest one, "Crazy Love," debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart.
Buble knows where he'd like the rest of his career to head.
"I've said it a million times: I would love very much to be known as one of the great entertainers. If that's me having a big ego, then sorry. I'm shooting for the stars and if I miss I'll hit the moon and that's pretty high," he said.
In a recent interview, Buble talked about his religion, the crazy things he's done for love, and his new album, which finds the Canadian-born singer covering songs by Van Morrison, Ron Sexsmith, and the Eagles.
Q: You're covering old school songs in this digital era of the music industry. How did technology play a role in the recording process?
Buble: I tried to make it very organic, to record off the floor, to mic it in a way you could really capture the essence of what I do live, the energy of what I do live. ... Of course we used machines and Pro Tools, and there were parts of it where I tuned my voice up and all that stuff. I mean, I'm going to take advantage as much as I can, of course, of technology as much as we could. [But] we tried to make this record feel good as opposed to sounding good, and for me, that's a huge step forward personally.
Q: Do you find covering songs easier or harder to do compared to creating your own music?
Buble: It's far more difficult for me to cover a song because you can compare that song with another 400, iconic artists who have recorded it. So it's my job to take it to a different place. And as an interpreter, I take it really seriously. When I'm remaking a song, I'm aware that I'm not here to sing the song better than Frank [Sinatra] or if I cover Van Morrison or I cover the Eagles, my job isn't to sing it better, my job is to make it my own.
Q: You mentioned that you used to sleep with your bible every night, hoping to become a singer. Talk about that.
Buble: As I get older I have a different concept of what God is to me and - it's not that I'm into organized religion - the truth is that I don't know. I'm sorry if that offends people out there, but I'm just being honest, I don't know. So instead of making it about a certain God, I have a relationship with that one thing. The universe. God. You can call it Jesus, you can call it Jehovah. You can call it whatever you want. Buddha if you want. Whatever. When I was a kid I definitely put it out there to the universe and to my God and I prayed that it would happen and it's obvious that it worked.
Q: What's the message you're trying to send with the new CD?
Buble: I think the message is that all of us can relate to this feeling, this emotion called love and it's a complicated feeling. It doesn't just come with butterflies in the stomach and happiness and sunshine and lollipops, it comes with heartache and jealousy and sometimes rage and sometimes insecurity and sadness and regret. It's a beautiful, complicated, and really special feeling that keeps us all connected.
Q: What's the craziest thing you've done for love?
Buble: Killed a guy once. Kidding. I can't think of anything! The craziest thing I ever did? What hasn't been crazy that I've done for love? I've given up a lot and I've hurt myself over it more than I can even say. I guess that's crazy but for me you don't have much of a choice. It's worth it. It's worth it for the payback.