January 12, 2017 12:06 PM

While Shawn Mendes knows each of his fans will interpret his lyrics differently, the teen pop sensation’s intended message with hit single “Mercy” might not be what they’d expect.

“‘Mercy,’ I love conceptually, because I feel like you can either think about it as if it were a girl – which it sounds like it could be about a girl – but I like to picture it as pleading for mercy for my career, type of thing,” Mendes explains in a new Front and Center interview from the Melrose Ballroom in Queens, New York.

Mendes, 18, says that the tiring lifestyle of a touring musician makes him sometimes “just want to say ‘Hey, have some mercy on me – just let me rest for a second.’ “

He acquiesces, though: “That’s the crazy nature of being someone who creates music, and I think that song kind of expresses all that emotion and anger behind loving something so much.”

Mendes’ Illuminate World Tour kicks off for 2017 in March, and comes stateside in July with a stop at Seattle, Washington’s KeyArena at Seattle Center.

The “Treat You Better” crooner is already prepped with a backing band, whom he’s quick to praise.

“From the minute I met them, I was like, ‘These guys rock,’ no matter if they are mediocre or if they’re incredible, they’re so sweet and they’re so humble and they’re so real that it doesn’t even matter to me,” he tells Front and Center. “And lucky enough they were all professionally incredible musicians and I got onstage and I felt so right with them.”

RELATED VIDEO: Brandi Cyrus Interviews Shawn Mendes for PEOPLE

Illuminate, Mendes’ second album, was released in September and quickly shot to the top of the Billboard 200 in its first week.

In addition to Mendes’ show, Front and Center‘s latest season features appearances by Rob Thomas, Cheap Trick, Southside Johnny, Steve Vai and Dawes. Check here for broadcast details. 

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