Like many others who watch what they eat, Charlie Puth has a “cheat day,” The pop star usually indulges on Sundays, but last week , he bumped it up to Monday. That’s when he played  Nashville, and he planned on having some “soul food” post-concert.

In another sense, he feels like he’s breaking the rules every day on his tour, opening for teen heartthrob Shawn Mendes.

“It’s not technically even my show, but it almost feels like a co-headline,” he says.

At a recent stop in Houston, he saw a group of fans “chasing my bus like I was the headliner.”

If you look at the 25-year-old’s chart success in the past few years, you might be surprised he’s not headlining his own arena tour.

Puth is best known for teaming up with rapper Wiz Khalifa on the 2015 hit See You Again, as heard on the soundtrack to Furious 7. The song’s music video recently became the most-watched video of all time on YouTube.

The New Jersey native got his start on YouTube in 2009, and in the past two years, he’s racked up billions of views on his own with hits including AttentionOne Call AwayWe Don’t Talk Anymore (with Selena Gomez) and Marvin Gaye (with Meghan Trainor).

He’s a conservatory-trained jazz pianist with perfect pitch, and he says inspiration can strike him anywhere.

“I was digging a hole on a beach yesterday with Shawn Mendes, and I started thinking of a song,” Puth says. “I think he thought I was a crazy person, because I just started humming. I was in my happy place.”

For as long as he can remember, Puth says, “I’ve been obsessed with recording my voice.” These days, all of his musical ideas are recorded into his phone via the iPhone built-in “Voice Memos” app. That’s how he got the name for his upcoming album, Voice Notes.

“I’m not very good at writing actual music notes down,” he says, “and it’s very important that I capture the inspiration as much as possible, so I don’t forget it. When I listen to it later, I’m just instantly brought back to that inspirational moment of the day. I have probably thousands of ideas (on voice memos). They’re all named interesting things, so they’ll get my attention if I ever scroll through them.”

Outside of a jaunt with Meghan Trainor in 2015, Puth hasn’t toured much with other artists — and he hasn’t done anything on the scale of this tour with Mendes.

“We’re jumping right to arenas,” he says. “The screams are insane: 120 decibels and above. Out of control. Everybody seems to be really excited when I come out on stage, from the get-go. They’re screaming like I’m the headliner. … I feel like I’m an opener, but I’m cheating, because I’m playing six hits.”

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