Jesse McCartney had wanted to avoid this. He’d proposed to longtime girlfriend Katie Peterson in 2019, and his return to the music industry was planned for early 2020, when he’d completed his fifth solo album “New Stage.” The plan was to tour with the album over the summer and then be able to take time off and fully sink into wedding mode, with a date toward the end of 2020.
As it would have it, both his wedding and album are set for this month, and McCartney is just a bit stressed.
“We’ve hardly seen each other in the last couple months,” McCartney says over the phone, speaking of Peterson. “And we said come the first week of October, we’re just going to really focus on the wedding and each other and take the month to only work on the wedding. Because it has been really crazy for both of us.”
Of course, there needs to be some element of music talk — it is, after all, the former “Dream Street” singer’s first album since 2014, and at a time when the music world is reacquainting itself with the world of live performances. McCartney has just started doing shows again, leading up to a tour next month, and is living for every moment.
“I can see people’s just raw excitement for being in a crowd again, or just looking around like, ‘wow, we’re doing this,’” he says. “It’s like a renewed energy.”
The new album, “New Stage,” feels like a fresh start for McCartney, who says the songs more accurately represent where he is today, both personally and professionally.
“Lyrically, obviously I think it’s a bit more mature. It represents where I’m at in my relationship with Katie and then also what it’s been like for me growing up in the industry. As you get older, I just feel like you know more things and you’re able to write about stuff that you can sink your teeth into a little bit more. And so lyrically, I think there’s just a little bit more to chew on,” he says.
He took a break from music over the last few years, first planned so he could work on the Freeform TV series “Young & Hungry” and later a little less planned, as he realized how nice it was not touring and instead getting to be with Peterson.
“I was in a healthy relationship, traveling, and I really enjoyed being able to travel and actually see the places I was going to,” he says. “Katie and I did a lot of international travel and just took time to relax. I feel like I’m very fortunate that I can do that. I feel like your thirties are such a great part of your life.”
The new album is heavily influenced by his relationship with his soon-to-be-wife.
“I think playing this new role as this engaged dude who’s now getting married is certainly worth noting. And I thought it was worth writing about,” he says. “I think it’s certainly relatable, especially to some of my fans who grew up with me who are also now married or have kids. But then I think there’s an underlying current of overall gratitude for where I’m at. It’s been a really great career that I’ve had and fruitful and I’ve been able to get on the other side of my early years, my twenties and all the younger years where you can certainly make stupid decisions.”
For the upcoming wedding he and stylist Melissa Woodbury visited Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Tom Ford, Brioni and Zegna in Los Angeles in search of the perfect tux.
“At first, we didn’t really want to do black tie. We thought, it’s California, we’re going to be in the Redwoods and that it’s going to be this beautiful outdoor wedding,” he says. That all changed once Woodbury saw Peterson’s dress. “She was like, ‘there’s no way you can be in a casual suit.’”
He is still narrowing it down as the date looms (exact date remains private but is later this month), but he nows he wants something traditional over sporty.
“I want to look back at the photos, and make sure that I don’t regret wearing that 15 years from now,” he says.
And as for the honeymoon? They’ll be in the romantic locale of a tour bus.
“I’m going on tour literally 10 days after my wedding,” McCartney says. “We’re going to postpone our honeymoon until probably next year because I have to jump on the road in November and December for the big tour. Katie keeps telling everybody, ‘Yeah, it’s going to be great. I’m going to be on the back of a tour bus.’”