During a recent episode of the ” Speak louder “ podcast, hosted by a seasoned music journalist “Metal Dave” Glessner and lifelong hard rock/metal singer Jason McMaster (DANGEROUS TOYS),QUEENSRŸCHEit is Todd La Tour discussed how being a lifelong cigarette smoker has – or hasn’t – affected his singing voice. The 48-year-old musician, who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):”[Legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James] Dio smoked forever. [Luciano] Pavarotti [one of the legendary Three Tenors and widely regarded as one of the greatest singers of the 20th century] smoked forever. Sure, I think he died of lung cancer [laughs]but he was singing like a fucking bird.
“Look, there’s a great singer called Fabio Lione; he’s an italian” Todd continued. “And he’s kind of this power metal, melodic vocals. I mean, this guy smokes like a chimney. He’s probably my age or in the same ballpark or older.
“I remember when I joined PURPLE GLORY, friends were like, ‘You should go see this singing coach. He taught Midnight [late CRIMSON GLORY singer]. Or Midnight took lessons from him. And just like…’, blah blah blah. And I just went for an assessment: What am I doing well? What am I doing wrong?” Todd recalled. “I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m just doing what I’m doing. He said, ‘Do you know how many people come to me like you?’ And I said, ‘Probably a lot.’ He goes, ‘Very little.’ He says: “You have an incredible technique. You have…” blah blah blah blah blah. “But now we’re gonna go…I want to find your weaknesses. Let’s try to strengthen them.”
“People say, ‘Are you warming up? Are you doing this?’ Ninety percent of the time, literally – if I’m just being honest – I’ll have a coffee and I’ll smoke and the pre-roll spins and I’ll go [have a final puff of the cigarette]. Then I go out and sing. And I’ve done this forever.
“[The voice coach] said… I said, ‘Look, I’m a smoker.’ He’s, like, ‘I’ll give you my honest opinion on this. I’ve been a professional vocal coach since…’ blah blah blah. He said to me: ‘Look, it’s unhealthy’. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s healthy. It’s not. It’s bad for your health.’ He said, ‘As for singing, in my opinion, [after] doing this for 40 years, I don’t think it will ruin your singing voice at all. I think, first of all, everyone is different. But he said everything was conditioned.
“It’s funny because there are people who smoke weed but don’t smoke cigarettes” Tower added. “And they’ll be, like, ‘Smoking cigarettes is bad for you.’ They don’t consider themselves smokers because they smoke weed. I tell them, ‘Look, you’re inhaling smoke, which is irritating and will dry you out. And you’re still inhaling that stuff. .’
“You hydrate from the inside, so when you run water through your voice, yes, it can be a bit soothing, but you’re not necessarily hydrating the vocal cords the way your body will be hydrated. by consuming water and it goes to tissues and muscles and things like that. So it’s a conception that people think, ‘Oh, if I just drink something, the liquid going down my throat somehow goes so make my vocal cords all good.’ So I drink water all day long. I don’t drink – I’ve never been drunk in my life; I’ve never smoked weed in my life; I’ve never consumed weed. ‘drugs other than nicotine, which I will admit I quit for two years Many years ago there was an illness in the family, then due to stress I started again. was a very serious disease that ran in my family. But in those two years that I quit and still sang the way I do, I never sang better. It didn’t change my voice at all; I wasn’t singing higher because of that. It was exactly the same.
“People are going to sit there and say, ‘Oh, he didn’t hit that note. The fumes don’t work for him. But the next night I’ll go out and smash it,” La Torre said. “And I’ve smoked a pack since. And then, what are they going to say then? It’s, like, whatever I’m talking about; I’m on a tour bus with recycled air; there are people getting sick all around you; I just performed 17 QUEENSRŸCHE songs in a row, which is – let’s be honest – it’s not easy for people to sing, so it’s a very vocally demanding thing.
“I’m not trying to defend smoking, but it’s a very fair comment that, ‘Hey, that’s probably doing you no favors.’ I’m okay with that – it’s not.”
Philippe Anselme (PANTHER),Corey Taylor (NOOSE) and Udo Dirkschneider (I ACCEPT) are among other hard rock and heavy metal singers who have admitted to smoking cigarettes in the past.
In a 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford said he “quit smoking” a long time ago in order to take better care of his voice.
In 2014, the former IRON MAIDEN singer Paul Di’Anno insisted his voice was in better shape than Halford‘s even though he was still drinking and smoking. “I take notes Rob Halford can’t knock anymore” Paul said at the time. “And the reason is that I don’t mind. Some people say, ‘I have a slight cough; let’s cancel the whole show. If you look at my tour schedule, it’s brutal. Normally I do this five, six, seven days a week. I still smoke, I still drink – I still have it, man.
In a 2013 interview with Myglobalmind, PRETTY SERVANTS singer Ronnie Atkinswho is now battling stage four cancer, joked that the secret to keeping her voice in shape was “20 cigarettes a day and little drink once in a while”.
pop superstar Lady Gaga admitted in a 2020 interview that she used to smoke “40 cigarettes all day” before finally quitting.
According to Tobacco Free Life, “The effects of smoking on your vocal cords are almost entirely negative. You may be able to achieve a raspy quality in your singing that you might not otherwise be able to achieve, but you [experience an] impact on your range, the control you have over your voice and your stamina as a performer.”
In a December 2021 interview with Sally Steel of Vegas Rocks! Magazineoriginal QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate he was asked if he had ever drunk or smoked in the early years of his career. “[I did] everything, he replied.[But] I haven’t made it a habit. I like drinking; It’s not a secret. I am a drinker, absolutely. I don’t think those things are necessarily going to stop you from singing, as long as you keep things in moderation and exercise… You have to keep things under control. Smoking is definitely not a good thing, however. I [smoked cigarettes] when I was a kid – when I was young. [But] I had to [stop].”