About three hours before he’s set to take the stage for the third show of his 2011 tour, Bob Seger is in his dressing room backstage at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, smoking Marlboros with his feet up on a coffee table. There’s another pack of cigarettes nearby, as well as bag of beef jerky, a black three-ring binder containing all of his lyrics, a keyboard, a couple of acoustic guitars and three ashtrays within close reach – one of them shaped like a Goodyear tire. “I’ve got a Ford GT with no ashtray,” Seger says. “This fits perfectly between the seats.”
Over a 30-minute conversation with Rolling Stone Seger talked about the difficulties of touring at this stage of his life, his next studio album, his upcoming collaboration with Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow and how he lost nearly 30 pounds before this tour.
It looks like you've lost some weight.
I worked hard. I lost 28 pounds in the last three months.
How did you do it?
Nutrisystem. And playing with the band. We rehearsed for about seven weeks, two to three days a week.
Yeah, I saw some photos of you golfing with Tiger Woods and you've clearly really slimmed down since then.
Oh god. I was huge. I think I was close to 247 there, and now I'm down to 220. And I'm going to go lower. I'm still on Nutrisystem. I had it today, and I'm going to keep going until I get to 205. That's my target weight, and I'll be real happy there. I've got to lose 15 more pounds. I don't think I can get much below 205. I'll look stupid.
How's the tour going so far?
So far, pretty good. Our biggest problem is that we have too many songs. I worked up 36 songs and I can't fit them all in. We did 26 songs in Saginaw the other night and it was just too long. We're cutting it down to 24... But it's real fun up there. I'm paying the price though. I've got a real stiff neck and sore back. Other than that, I'm enjoying it.
I knew you took off that decade between 1995 and 2006 to raise your kids. Are you touring because they're older now and don't need you at home as much?
I think so. I also really think I'm doing it because it’s good for them to see their dad work hard. My son’s just getting ready to go to college and my daughter is a junior in high school. So I thought I’d set a good example and work real hard, and show them that if you’ve got a future you’ve got to work real hard for it. I thought that was a good time to do it.
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I know you fly home after most shows. Is it weird transitioning back to your home life right after playing a huge concert like this?
A little bit. The big thing is that I just need a lot more rest when I'm home. I do try to go home as much as possible after each show. I've got my own plane. I'm very fortunate. I've done well in my life, so I've got a small jet and I'll be right out the door at 11 o'clock. I got them up this morning for school at six.
We're just doing three shows a week because of my age. For the first time I'm sitting when I'm playing guitar. It hurts my back. I play two or three songs at the piano, but unusually, my back hurts worse at the piano. It's really strange because it never did before. It's just age. I'm getting up there.
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