Florence Welch: Touring’s lonely now I’m sober ... but the fans save me

Alistair Foster

Florence Welch has said she finds touring lonely now she is sober and confessed that playing to huge audiences makes her “go into shock”.

The singer, 32, gave up alcohol and drugs almost five years ago and said it had made most areas of her life “exponentially better”.

With her band Florence + The Machine, Welch is about to embark on a summer of festival performances, including Barclaycard presents British Summer Time in Hyde Park on July 13. But Welch admitted it will be difficult leaving the comfort of her south London home.

She told ES Magazine: “I’m basically a hermit. I go from trying to stay in south London as much as possible, pottering around … to this huge thing. In my first week of tour I go into shock. I get really freaked out and wonder how sustainable it is as a way of life. I can’t sleep and I’m calling my manager, like, ‘I just can’t do this. This is the last one’.

Home bird: Florence Welch said she finds it difficult to leave her life in south London when she goes on tour (Kevin Winter/Getty)

“Then by the end I’m in the swing of it. It’s almost like an addictive cycle: the first week is like, ‘Oh my God, no, this is terrifying’. Then at the end, you’re like, ‘I can’t wait to go back and play’.”

She added: “I’m grateful that I was able to get sober away from the public eye. Most of the things in my life have got exponentially better from not drinking, but it’s lonely being sober on big tours. But really it’s the people at the shows that save me.”

Posing: Florence Welch for ES Mag

The singer has spoken about her anxiety in the past and said sobriety has helped her deal with the condition. She added: “I think I’ve probably had it low-level, and sometimes extreme, for as long as I can remember ... Stopping drinking and taking drugs has had a hugely helpful effect.”

Welch is also cautious about using social media, explaining: “I have to be really careful, especially when I’m lonely on tour, and you think that it’s going to help you feel less lonely. The ‘compare and despair’ thing is really difficult, and also the sense that you have to solidify your identity every day. That’s tricky because I need a lot of quiet time and time not to be exposed or in the spotlight. So every time I post a picture I have a small panic attack.”

Welch admitted it was painful to be criticised for her personality rather than her music. She said: “I stopped doing as many interviews. I didn’t want the idea of becoming a personality to overshadow my music.”