An Interview with “Keep Your Head Up” Singer Andy Grammer, on His Newest Album “Magazines Or Novels”.
Posted On 08 Sep 2014
Andy Grammer released his second album Magazines Or Novels earlier this summer. It is the follow-up to his 2011 self-titled debut album, which featured the massive hits “Keep Your Head Up,” “Fine By Me,” and “Miss Me.”
Learn more about Andy and his newest album in the following interview:
Can you offer our readers a brief journey of your musical career thus far from your perspective? You’ve come a long way since working on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica!
Sure, I was a street performer for about 3-4 years out on 3rd street Promenade in Santa Monica CA. Thats where I really kind of developed the sound for that first record and honed my songs and voice. After that I was SUPER blessed to have some freak success with my songs “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me”, which were in movies and I got to play on TV shows and travel around the country and the world. I opened for incredible acts like Train, Taylor Swift and Gavin Degraw. Then I came back home to write for my second album which just came out. It’s called Magazines or Novels and the lead single appropriately is named “Back Home”.
Who are some of your musical influences? Who are some of the new artists who inspire you?
It changes all the time. While I was writing this record I was really into the whole Macklemore and Ryan Lewis album, Frank Ocean, Coldplay and Drake. And I also love the folk trend that’s going on now. There’s something about the blend of the modern sounds and dirty acoustic instruments that sound really good to me at the moment.
How are you using social media networks and sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram to interact with your fans? How often do you post?
I post ALL THE TIME. Except for when I’m writing. When I’m writing I try to get into a zone but any other time I love to keep up with everyone. Vine, Instagram and Twitter are my favorites although Snapchat is slowly growing on me. It’s truly incredible to live in a time when you can connect with fans so quickly. Having just put my album out, it was incredible that within half an hour everyone was posting the lyrics that hit them the hardest, or the songs they wanted to work out to.
“I feel like the discussion and interaction between artists and fans is in its golden age.”
I have read that you wrote close to 100 songs to prepare for your newest album. Is this true and why did you do that? Generally, what is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes?
Yeah I did. They always say the second album is the hardest to write and I would whole-heartedly agree. On the second album you want to stretch from the first album lyrically and sonically, but it can take a minute to even figure out where you want to go. I had a lot of ideas of what I was hearing but the process of capturing it the way I had envisioned took awhile.
I’m so glad that i fought through and wrote as much as I did. The best songs came in the 90-100 bunch. Sometimes you just gotta keep digging deeper to get the good stuff.
Top 40 Radio can really be a challenge to break into. You’ve succeeded several times with your hits “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me”. Why do you think those songs worked so well and some don’t?
I mean I definitely think there is some luck involved. Both of those songs made people feel good. I love to try to write those. They are really difficult because it gets cheesy quick. If you can nail it though like a “Keep Your Head Up” or a “Happy” by Pharrell, the world is really grateful for it and it can spread fast.
How did you get funny man, Rainn Wilson to be in your video for “Keep Your Head Up”?
He had a been a friend of mine for a really long time. I took him out to lunch and begged him to be in my video. I had absolutely nothing going on at the time and he was still super gracious and agreed to do it. I owe that man for life.
If you had the opportunity to work with any artist/band from the past, present or future, who would it be and why?
I really want to get into a room with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and write a song with him. He has so many hits under his belt for him and for other artists. I just want to see what the hell goes on when he writes. I also think that a Macklemore verse where I sing the hook would be dope as well. Can you hook that up?
Your newest album, Magazines or Novels is about to released. How does this album differ from anything you’ve put before?
It’s very different from anything I’ve put out both lyrically and musically. Musically on this album I wanted to go for a much bigger sound. I had been blessed with the opportunity to perform in front of some huge audiences and I remember feeling from the stage “I wish I had some more group singing anthems”. That’s really where “Back Home” came from. I wanted something that everyone could sing at the top of their lungs to. Lyrically I also tried to be blatantly honest. I think that the more honest you get about yourself the better chance it will resonate with the people listening. It’s a little scary because not everything on this album flatters me, but I think the honesty of it makes it much more intriguing.
How’s this headline tour been going? Any favorite venues so far? How have the crowds been?
The headline tour was incredible. The response to all the new music was so much better then I could have anticipated. Half way through the tour most of the crowd had learned the new songs from videos of earlier shows on YouTube. It was amazing! I have some of the best fans in the world.
Why is this lifestyle (recording, singing, traveling) one that you are willing to follow now?
Music is an intensifier. If you are happy, it can make you happier, if you’re sad, it makes you really connect with your own sadness. If you are driving down the highway with the windows down, it can make your heart explode and feel free. Who wouldn’t want to live life wrapped up in this? I feel super lucky to get to play in front of the audiences that come to see me. It really is my dream.
I recently watched your video for “Back Home“. It’s really a lovely video. What’s the story behind it all?
It was actually filmed in Salt Lake City at a festival. Salt Lake is one of my biggest markets and everyone came out. On the second chorus when you see the color being thrown into the air by 10,000 kids, it’s a pretty amazing spectacle. By far, it’s the video that I am most proud of. I never want to do shows without obnoxious amounts of colored chalk again.
What is your favorite song to perform live and why?
“Back Home” has been going over so well live. It just feels massive when the chorus hits and the whole crowd jumps in. It’s been favorite since it came out. On tour we have been doing a version of Drake’s “Going Home” that leads into “Back Home” and its been a crowd favorite every time.
When you aren’t performing and/or writing new material, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I hang with my little French bulldog Lucy, or play basketball. I was a super jock in high school and it all comes back quick on the hop on the court. My drummer and bassist are really good and when we play college shows we like to try to take on kids from the school. Our winning percentage is actually pretty decent.
Do you have any interesting road stories you’d like to share?
We always like to do pranks on the last night of tour. When I was out with Train, I schemed a way to sing a duet he’d written dressed as a girl without him knowing. So he thought he was singing it with some girl named Andrea and I came out in a blonde wig and a dress. Its horrendous, if you type in Andrea Grammer into YouTube you can the whole catastrophe. I make quite the ugly girl…
What would you like your fans to take away from listening to your music?
I just really wanted to deliver something worthy of the title. I want to grab your attention like a magazine but have enough substance to hold your attention like a novel. Playing with both those dynamics was at the heart of this album. I want to create music that makes people feel something authentic. Hard to do. Hope I did it.