Good morning, everyone. I hope your weekend is off to a great start. I’ve got a special surprise for you this morning to help get your weekend off on a “good note” ba dump-bump-bump. Yes, that pun was intended. Those of you that read my reviews will recall that I recently reviewed Andy Grammer’s self-titled debut record. Now, Grammer’s out on tour with Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw. And next week, he will be joining them for a concert in Raleigh. So in anticipation of next week’s show, I’m proud to share an interview that I recently had with Andy. I had the honor of talking with him about his youth, becoming a major star and more. Make sure your calendars are marked for June 12th if you’re in North Carolina. In the meantime, enjoy this interview while I work on today’s brand new review.
PP: Your story is the epitome of a rags to riches story. You started out playing on the streets, powering your amp with a car battery. Now, you’re one of the biggest names in pop music. Knowing where you started, what goes through your mind, seeing where you are now versus everything you’ve gone through to get where you are today? Do you still see yourself as that same guy today that you were then, just making music, or have things changed any for you?
AG: I think when you come from such humble beginnings it keeps you grounded. Performing on the street for three years had a big impact, its kind of the bottom of the music food chain. So when anything crazy happens right now I still feel like the guy from the street who is really blessed.
PP: One of the things that I really like about your album is the positive lyrics throughout the songs. Given, you don’t intentionally try to be positive, as your bio notes. You just try to be real. But you do have a lot of great, uplifting songs. I’d like to take a few minutes just to touch on a few songs, if that’s okay. I want to start with ‘Keep Your Head Up.’ This is one of those songs to which every listener can relate. What really makes it so standout is that it’s not one of those “oh woe is me” type of songs. Rather, it’s an uplifting piece both musically and lyrically. It gives hope to listeners. Have you had audiences and/or listeners come up to you and express the impact that it’s had on their lives? Are there any stories from audiences that really stand out in your mind more than others?
AG: I’ve had a bunch of really incredible stories where people share how the song came at the perfect time for them. They come up and say “this was my get through chemo song”, or “I was driving to do something crazy when your song came on the radio and I turned around.” In those moments I’m just in awe of the power of a song.
PP: Your bio states that ‘Fine By Me’ was about a girl who came in and just stole your heart. Both men and women have that point where they meet someone like the girl in your song that just takes their breath away and steals their heart. Sometimes it works out, others it doesn’t. Again it’s another of those relatable pieces. Can you expand on that story for the fans who are reading this? What about her made you fall so deep for her? How old were you at the time you met her? Did things work out for you and this girl? If not, are you still friends or do you stay in contact with her today? Hopefully that’s not being too personal. It just really seems like the sort of story that would be fitting for a performance on VH1’s Storytellers.
AG: “Fine By Me” touches on the idea of how guys try to play it cool. Underneath we’re big teddy bears. So if you get us we do a 180 real fast from, “I’m cool not really looking for a relationship” to “I want to kiss and hold you for the rest of time… Forever”. I love the casual phrase of “it’s fine by me” followed by the super intense “if you NEVER leave”. Guys are hilarious. (not into going too deep into relationships, hope that’s find by you :)
PP: Staying on the lyrical content of the album, another of the songs that caught my ear was ‘Ladies.’ This song seems like such a departure from so many other pop acts out there. I like how it talks about how you were raised to treat women with respect, rather than as objects. And I bet it’s a huge hit with your female audiences. Did your mother really teach you that lesson? I’d like to know how this song really came to life.
AG: My mother was an incredible woman. She would have gatherings at our house where it was only women and tell them all how special and important their role was in the world. My dad, brother and I would go bowling or something but when we got back you could feel something “very right” had just occurred. When I was in college all the cute girls would come to my house for MY MOM! Special lady.
PP: Having been named one of Billboard’s “2011 Artists to Watch” and now touring with other top name acts (I.E. Colbie Caillat), playing sold out shows across the country, do you ever feel added pressure to really perform? Or does it just motivate you that much more to go out there and do what you obviously love to do?
AG: The hope is that you have the skills to give the crowd what they need. When I know I have what they are looking for I’m not very nervous I’m just anxious to get on stage and meet a ton of new friends. Performing is the dessert of a musician’s life. You travel most of the day to get your hour show at night. There are slight nerves but in the way you get excited when you see the waiter bringing an ice cream sundae across the restaurant.
PP: As big as you’ve gotten so quickly, I’m curious, when did you really know you had broken through? I’d love to hear how exactly you got your record deal. Was S-Curve your first choice of labels, or did you have other labels coming to you saying, “Hey, we want you”? What made you choose S-Curve?
AG: Once we recorded “Keep Your Head Up” with a fairly new production team “Lions Share” then the buzz started to come. It got great radio testing scores and we started getting interest. I went with S-Curve because I knew I was going to get the most personal attention. These days you need a team that will really fight and stick with you.
PP: How exactly did you come to be on this tour with Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw? Did they or their reps come to you and ask you to join the tour? What was your first thought when you were asked to join the tour?
AG: This has been such a cool tour. Gavin and Colbie are both incredible talents that are also really sweet. As headliners you can kind of get away with being dismissive but they are so welcoming and inclusive. The vibe of the tour is awesome. I met Gavin in Iowa at a radio show and when I got off the stage he came up to me and said, “I want to take you on tour”. Colbie has had me on previous tours and is literally the sweetest human on earth. I hope to be as generous to someone else someday as they have been to me.
PP: Now that you’re touring, are there any behind the scene stories that you can share with your audiences? Do you all go out together after shows? Is there any pranking that goes on? What about pre-show rituals? Does anyone on the tour have any superstitions about pre-show preps?
AG: It’s still kind of early in this tour although Gavin’s guitar player was definitely throwing Gaffers tape at us from side stage last show. Haha usually pranks are for the last couple shows. Ask me again near the end of the tour and I’m sure more will occur with this rowdy bunch. There isn’t too much superstition as far as pre-show ritual goes we just try to give everyone the best show possible.
PP: Being out on tour now, do you have any favorite cities to play? Are there any that you’re looking forward to playing?
AG: It can change nightly. I just played a show in Boston that was AWESOME. But I’m always one show away from saying, “now THAT is my favorite place to play”. I say that like 3 times a week.
PP: I’ve got one more question for you. Going back to your bio for a moment to kind of bring things full circle here. It notes your experiences growing up with your dad being a musician. Having been part of all the hard work and sacrifice with your dad, and then on your own, what reaction do your audiences get when you explain what you went through to get where you are today? Does it change their view on the industry? What advice do you have for all the hopeful audiences who ask you about your experiences?
AG: My story is different then a lot of other stories but in music or any art form the themes are the same. Never give up, and just keep creating until you have something that makes waves with a group of people. If you have a feeling you are supposed to share something with the world you wake up every morning and chase after it with everything you got. My dad taught me that.
To keep up with all the latest entertainment news and reviews, go to http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141. You can also follow all the latest reviews and news at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.