Justin Bieber’s redemption tour, as documented on his pious new album, has been a long time coming. But just how long has Bieber been plotting a comeback? A New York Times interview with his manager and branding Svengali, Scooter Braun, has some insight on the behind-the-scenes damage control that Braun says has taken a year and a half to put into effect. In it, he claims that Bieber’s situation was more dire than what was made public. (Some in the singer’s camp have alluded to his drug use.) “The outsiders don’t really know what was happening. It was far worse than people realize,” he says. “And when he is ready, he will tell what he was going through.” Braun says that following Bieber’s 2013 Journals mixtape, he wanted to tour, but even then his manager was fearful Bieber might not survive one: “I honestly at that time felt, if he toured, he could die.” Instead, he says, “something happened that it clicked for him.” Since then, Braun says he’s modeled Bieber’s comeback after Robert Downey Jr.’s own fall from grace and reemergence as a profitable superstar.
The interview also touches on a few of Scooter’s other clients and their mistakes, namely Ariana Grande. On her infamous doughnutgate, he believes that, though he urged her to take responsibility for her screwup, pop culture is too concerned with fluff stories: “I also think — not about her, but just in general — we’re getting a little ridiculous when it comes to doughnuts and eggs. The rock stars of ’70s were really [expletive]. Let’s talk about some real stuff. Why are we discussing that when we have real significant issues in the world? Like, gun control. And the fact that a presidential candidate is saying things that I find to be anti-American. These are the things we should be angry and frustrated about.”