Austin Mahone sent his millions of Twitter fans into a tizzy when he told them of a blood clot in his throat a few weeks ago, postponing his MTV Artist to Watch Tour. "I've never felt so bad," the YouTube sensation-turned-teen heartthrob wrote on Instagram earlier this month from his hospital room. Now the singer's health is improving. "I'm feeling a lot better than I did a week ago," he tells Rolling Stone. "Still not feeling 100 percent, but trying to get better."
Doctors pointed to lack of rest, proper nutrition and exercise as causes for the ailment, and Mahone says his recovery has involved lots of downtime and liquids. "Every time I would eat solid food it would hurt so bad, so I was drinking a bunch of Muscle Milk and not getting actual meals," he says with a laugh. "When I was in the doctor's office, all I wanted was a cheeseburger."
He's now taking special precautions for his health as he prepares to hit the road for a series of Jingle Ball concerts across the country. "I'm going to make sure I'm not staying up too late," Mahone says. "Rest is important. Eat better and just take care of my voice." The 17-year-old admits that it will "be a little hard" not to stay out late but he's willing to alter his lifestyle to avoid another hospital visit. "I definitely don't want that to happen all over again. I'll take it easy for a bit."
But not for too long – Mahone has a lot to prepare for in the coming months. His MTV Artist to Watch Tour, now rescheduled to February 2014, is sold out, and his new single "Banga! Banga!" is slated for release on November 10th. "It's a lot different from previous singles I put out," Mahone says. "This single is a little bit mature. I'm turning 18 in a couple of months, so I'm just trying to make music that's maturing. I know my fans will love it."
Expect his forthcoming, still-untitled album to reflect that more grown-up sound, with contributions from producers RedOne, Max Martin and Sean Garrett. Mahone is a fan of label mates Drake and Lil Wayne, so collaborations are possible on the album, slated for early 2014 release on Chase Records/Universal Republic in a partnership with Cash Money Records. Nevertheless, he wants his evolution to be organic and not rushed like many predecessors.
"I've seen child stars grow up being young and then all of a sudden, one day, they try to be mature. That might not be the right way to do it," Mahone says. "I feel like if I'm slowly, you know, taking baby steps, it's gonna be an easier transition for me."