Reading articles about Hugh Laurie from the past few years, one might pick him out as the perfect man to play the blues. At some point, the writer will mention Laurie’s morbid self-consciousness or his unhappiness, as the New York Times did at length back in 2011.

But now, in the midst of his tour supporting his recent blues album, Didn’t It Rain, Laurie couldn’t be more buoyant. In the brief time I chatted with the former House, M.D. actor, what was abundantly clear was Laurie’s love for the blues, love for the band and love for the road. With his usual dry wit, he talked to me about why being on tour is like being a shark and how to make things a bit awkward with George Clooney.

Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band will be playing at Montalvo Arts Center on Tue May 27 and at the Fillmore in San Francisco on Wed May 28. How’s the tour going so far?

Hugh Laurie: Pretty good, pretty damn good. It’s amazing, I mean, Vancouver of all places–meaning that I anticipated Canadians being very reserved and polite–but they were pretty wild.

I saw that there were some reviews of that show that were pretty excited that you were doing shots on stage.

Well, we all use the fuel that is close at hand. Yeah, whiskey helps a lot of things in this world. Oh, if kids are reading this, I’m not saying…well, you know what I mean.

Have you ever been to San Jose before?

You know I have not. It’s so weird, I spent pretty much 10 years solid in the US and nine-and-a-half months a year was spent in a large building with no windows. And that’s the great part of going on tour. The adventure of it is getting to know people and see places. It’s a big place.

So can you go out and see a city without getting mobbed? Have things calmed down since House ended?

Well I don’t know if mobbed is the right word. People are very polite and welcoming. I mean, I do have a strategically angled baseball cap, but people have been absolutely wonderful. I don’t get to see as much of a city as I’d like though. On tour you’re like a shark, you have to keep moving to keep feeding. The bills have gotta be paid.

Well, I was going to say if you get a chance to go we’ve got some great blues places in San Jose.

Oh I would love that. We found a bar in Portland called the Blue Diamond. It’s got fantastic music, fantastic people. I don’t know if people say this often anymore, but it was a scene, it was a damn scene.

I’ve read you enjoy making music much more than acting. Is that right?

That is pretty much true. I cant be sure it’s not because it’s all so new to me this is the thing I’ve dreamed of all my life. I’m like a kid. And maybe it wears off, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. This feels like what I was always meant to be doing. I love acting, and I’ve done some things I’m proud of–and I’ve done some things I’m pretty ashamed of too. I wouldn’t swap it. But playing music my god, there’s nothing like it. To me its a noble calling, it’s approaching some sort of holy status with me.

What do you feel when you play?

Absolutely everything. I mean, all human life is in these songs: loss and pain and joy and love and sex. All human life is in this music. I hope we touch on all kinds of things in the course of the show. We go to different places. It’s dark; it’s funny at times; it’s good fun. I think it’s all in this music.

What’s your vision for the show? Is it for the audience? Is it for you?

Oh, it’s definitely for the audience. I want people to share in the same joy I get from this music. I want it to be a show. I don’t want it to be a recital. I want our show to be more than that, more theatrical and dramatic and funny. I want it to have more shape to it than an album. You know it’s that old cliche: I want people to laugh and cry and dance and I want people to have a good time.

Have you ever thought of just doing music?

Well, that’s sort of how I’m thinking now. Maybe people that have done this much more than me would say that life on the road gets pretty wearing. Maybe it’s possible to have the love of music beaten out of them by the rigors of road. But right now this is what I see myself doing. As long as people show up, I’ll do it.

So you’ve done a lot of different things. You’ve written a book, acted, played music. How do these things happen? Is it just, “Hm, today I’m going to write a book. No, I’m going to star in a movie with George Clooney!” [Laurie is playing opposite George Clooney in upcoming Disney film Tomorrowland.]

[Laughs] No, it’s a much slower process. A lot of the time it comes from other people. I can’t just show up on the set unless I’m asked. I’m sure people have tried that. Have you ever tried just showing up on set with George Clooney? It gets quite awkward. You have to be asked.

With the album, the record company came to me and said, “You want to do this?” I’m not sure I would have had the confidence or nerve to take it on otherwise. You know, maybe someone gives you an idea and it starts taking a shape and maybe there’s a sound… It’s all very slow, its a gradual thing. And at some point it takes on momentum and things start developing a character and a tone.

Are you going to do a third album?

I hope so if they’ll let me. What I realized is that the second album came pretty close to first. It came out about a year after the first and apparently in the record business that’s too soon. Most people wait two or three years between. But I’m like a dog panting; I wanna go for a walk! If they’ll let me, I’ll do it.

Do you prefer doing the show or recording the album?

They’re both great. It’s just the sheer pleasure of playing with these guys. I’m proud to say–and this is a piece of straight-forward boasting–that we played a show in Sydney and the Sydney Morning Herald said we were the best band since Muddy Waters came to town 40 years ago. That’s how good they are. I have the pleasure and honor of playing with these guys.

The preceding conversation has been edited for length and clarity.