Interview: Andy Grammer
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:01:33
You'll feel right at home when you hear Andy Grammer's new single. "Back Home" is set to be one of the summer's biggest anthems. It's from the man behind the smash "Fine By Me", and it's even bigger, breezier, and better. Grammer's catchy cadence and vivid lyrics once again yield the song of the summer...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Andy Grammer discusses "Back Home", his forthcoming new album, and so much more.
What's the story behind "Back Home"?
I was gone for three years! It was amazing. I was running around the country and certain other countries around the world I got to go to playing the first album. When you're back again, you try as much as you can to keep up with everybody but I was pretty much a bad friend [Laughs]. So, by the time I got home and started writing for my second album, it really stuck out how important it is to have good friends to be around to be a part of your life and keep you grounded. I have some great ones back in L.A. I was away from for a while, then I saw how much I needed it back home. I feel like a lot of people can relate to that. Since it's been out, people have been saying they've felt the same way.
Was it something you were thinking about while touring?
When we started writing the song, it came out that I was feeling that. It wasn't like I was on the road thinking that. It was just that kind of hook lent itself to that theme. It started pouring out.
Do you feel like this song is a gateway to the next album?
I do. I think the record is much bigger in general. It's definitely not like a folk album [Laughs]. I just dove into all of the stuff that was exciting me musically right now. "Back Home" is on the far left. It's got that folk-y vibe but then a huge hook. On the other side, there's a song that's almost Imogen Heap-y. There's a song that feels like a mix between Imagine Dragons and a Kanye West track. I went bigger and bolder in all directions and didn't really judge it. I think I'll be the through-line though all of it. In general, I think it's better than the first album.
What pushed you in that direction?
When you first meet someone, there's this feeling. You shake their hand. You're a certain way because you don't know them very well. You're smiling and putting on a face. That's the first stage of who you are when you get to know someone. The second album is a little grittier. There's some honesty. There are some warts there showing about me. It feels more grounded than the first album. I love the first one. It's great, but I needed to go somewhere. I've never done a second album before. It was interesting to feel a little rebellious about it. For so much of life, it was, "Andy Grammer, who the hell is that?" There was nothing to push back against. Now that people have an idea of who I am, you go, "Well, that's one aspect of who I am. Now, I want to try some other shit".
It comes back to the songs though no matter what..
It's literally all about songs. You could make the weirdest album ever production-wise if the songs themselves are amazing. We took a really long time just writing and writing. I was getting ideas I felt were foolproof. I thought, "I can put that song out there and stand behind it". Now that I have those, the production has been really fun. It's so much fun. It's interesting and weird trying different sounds. It's the best.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
I like to try. The hardest thing about the whole album process, in my opinion, is finding what the hell is worth singing about. Why? What are words that actually need to be sung? Those are hard to find. I'd be lying if I said I knew exactly what I needed to say. I had to write a lot, find it, and come to what I thought needed to be said.
So, it was a process of writing a lot?
It really was. I wrote so many songs. I never lyrically thought about how it was coming across. Sometimes, you need to right on the nose. Sometimes, you need to be a little elusive with the lyrics and let people come to them slower. The songs feel more mature. Hopefully, it's an evolution. That's where I'm at. I think they're better [Laughs]. Everybody else can judge. I'm excited about what I'm going to share with everyone.
What's been inspiring you lately?
It's a lot of eclectic things in terms of music now. If you listen to the radio, it goes all over the map in terms of what everybody's loving. It'll go from Katy Perry to that Robin Thicke song, which is kind of old school, to Mumford & Sons. It's all over the place. That's where my tastes are. I love the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis record. I love the Drake record. I'm really into the new Coldplay music. I really dove into every area. All of these things are current. I didn't decide to make a concept album. I wanted to write songs I thought were foolproof and great and have a blast with what's exciting me now.
Did you get to try anything you hadn't before?
There's a lot going on in "Back Home". There's a whole folk thing going on. I'm aware of it. I don't want to seem like I'm chasing it. It's weird because everything we wrote in this song was calling for this stuff. I didn't want to be the guy chasing the folk thing, but we put a banjo on it and it sounded fucking awesome. Who am I to stop the flow of a song? What's interesting about the folk sound is there's so much processed music. It's hard to not sound genuine over a banjo. The words you sing over those sounds feel honest. We're thirsty for that in music. That would be my guess for why it's taken off so big.
If your new album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
If the first record was like a Good Will Hunting, this next record is like Ocean's Eleven. This is a little bit edgier sonically and lyrically. To me, it's not edgy for sake of being edgy. It's more honest. Anyone who's honest with themselves has edges in there.
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What's your favorite Andy Grammer song?