Powter rebounds from very bad days

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency


Bad Day?

Try a couple of really bad -- as in almost life-ending -- years.

Canadian pop artist Daniel Powter says his 2005 hit song Bad Day pushed him over the edge into drugs and alcohol addiction, from which he's only recently recovered.

Now two years sober, the Vernon, B.C.-born, L.A-based singer-songwriter was in Toronto promoting a positive-sounding fourth studio album, Turn On the Lights (which came out Aug. 14), including the first upbeat single Cupid, with plans for a small Canadian theatre tour in January and February.

"Those were tough times for me," said Powter, 41, looking almost unrecognizable -- buff, tanned and with long blond hair pulled back with a headband -- from his Bad Day heyday, during which he was much skinnier and was never seen without a hat.

"After the Bad Day record, I came home pretty exhausted, really disenfranchised, I really didn't want to do it anymore. I was twenty pounds underweight. Heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol ... and as a result became really isolated and disconnected and with that, not spending enough time with my family. I went through a divorce. When I got out of the end of that, I got sober and during that time, I decided I wanted to come back and play more music."

In between Turn On the Lights, produced by veteran hitmaker Howard Benson (Kelly Clarkson, Gavin DeGraw, All-American Rejects), and Powter's 2005 self-titled effort, there was the aptly named Under the Radar in 2008.

Powter said it got to the point where he resented Bad Day -- which won him a Juno, although he didn't attend the awards -- so much that he stopped playing it in concert, which didn't go over very well with fans.

"I just hated Bad Day and I hated being associated with it," he said. "I felt like I was always kind of under the shadow of this song. I would go into a new territory, like for example, Switzerland, and I'm like, 'Here I am,' and the song had already been there and destroyed everything. And I was like, 'I just got here and this thing's already No.1.' I never had to do anything. It was too easy. It's a double-edged sword. The song was so big that it didn't really matter who the person was that was doing it. Three years later the song was still charting. I'm like, 'When is this thing going to do away?' Now it's like, I look at Bad Day like the way you might look at Jingle Bells. It doesn't belong to me anymore, it kind of belongs to everybody. And to me, it's like a Christmas song. And when I look at the song in those terms or that perspective, I actually like it."

These days, Powter is into surfing off the beach in Santa Monica and Malibu, near his Brentwood home.

"I'm happy," he responded when asked why he looks so different. "I'm really happy."

Still, he has one remaining vice -- he smokes.

"Surfing and smoking," he says with a smile.

But he says his relationship with his nine-year-old daughter, Sophie, from his first marriage, is now "closer than we've ever been, we're inseparable," and he has a five-month-old new daughter, Billie, from his current relationship with his former spinning trainer.

"I know it's kind of cliche to say, 'I'm with my trainer,' " says Powter, with a hearty laugh.