By DAVID KLEINMAN
For 21st Century Media
It’s been three years since Andy Grammer’s eponymous debut, during which time he’s been on the road touring with the likes of Train, Gavin DeGraw and Colbie Caillat while simultaneously cultivating a whopping 100 songs toward his upcoming sophomore efforts.
Working in an industry known for it’s short attention span Grammer understood the time sensitivity regarding his second release, due late this summer, but wisely decided to make content king, executing a meticulous writing process to perfect every fiber of the twelve songs that made the upcoming album’s painful cut.
“(My team) wanted it out earlier because the timing would have been better but all along it’s gotta be perfect. No one was like ‘If it’s not perfect we should still put it out,’ they are all just like ‘We have to put it out, get it perfect tomorrow. Go out and get the perfect thing tomorrow then two months later, that’s all we’ll say’,” Grammer said with a laugh in a recent phone interview.
During his three years of absence in the recording studio Grammer adopted a more sonically-challenging sound from where his roots lie — a singer-songwriter with a standard guitar and keyboard. Self-described as a new mesh between Kanye West and Imagine Dragons local admirers of Grammer’s sound will have the opportunity to determine if perfection was achieved when he performs six of the never-before-heard songs at World Cafe Live on June 29 along with a blend of such fan-favorites as “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me.”
“I was in Los Angeles sitting in a diner late-night and a lady sat down next to me and went ‘Oh my god, you’re Andy Grammer! You wrote ‘Keep Your Head Up! I was literally about to drive over a bridge, I was at that point in my life. I was addicted to stuff, it was going down. I don’t know if you could explain it to me right there but ‘Keep Your Head Up’ came on the radio and I didn’t do it.’
My mom passed away when I was 25, that was pretty rough and probably sometime around 27 I wrote this song coming out of it. I really underestimated that it would give people some sort of release. I didn’t know, I wrote it for myself that way but I didn’t know it would transfer that big.”
For an artist who first cultivated his craft as a busker on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica Grammer relishes the opportunity to reach even bigger and broader audiences with his music. He’ll have the chance to perform for his hometown crowd on the fifth stop of his 28-city tour at the famed Hollywood Bowl, an opportunity not eligible for a modest delivery.
“When I’d been out there for four days on a box in front of the McDonald’s I wasn’t thinking ‘I’ll probably play the Bowl.’ To go from that to now when people ask if I’m playing a show in Los Angeles and being like ‘Yeah, I’m playing The Bowl.’ I don’t know how else to make that sound but I say that or like getting to play with Ed Sheeran who’s so amazing and Demi Lovato. Being around that entails more risks, especially in the iconic venues.”
Risk is a word Grammer often associates with his new musical direction, a switch fans can hear on the newly-minted ‘Back Home’ single from his upcoming album. Grammer carefully walks the fine line between pleasing the fans who have followed him up til now and impressing a new audience with a fuller sound more relevant to today’s popular landscape.
“I think they’ll take away ‘Oh (shoot), he’s going somewhere else. He’s really making a left turn’ and I hope that they’ll like it and I like it. My guess is that it’s like anything else, when you have someone that you like do something that you like and then they try something different … some second albums, I realized, are tough. Everyone goes ‘Hey, slow down bro’ and ‘We liked what you were doing, why’d you do that?’ I think, again, it comes down to the songs.
It’s like if a director does action movies and then does a romantic comedy, bottom line if the romantic comedy has a good script and it’s a good movie people will go ‘wow.’ I will stand by every single song that I throw on this album, I knew what I was coming out with was going to be risky sound-wise but I wanted to make sure it has really good songs and I really think I do.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Andy Grammer
WHERE: World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St, Philadelphia.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday, June 29
INFO.: Call (215) 222-1400 or check www.worldcafelive.com
CONNECT: Find Andy online at www.andygrammer.com and on Twitter: @AndyGrammer