Andy Grammer | Filled with Wonder

prof andy-grammer_75We have stuff I can’t wait to share with people.




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The first thing Andy Grammer had to tell me when we spoke on the phone was that his second album was done recording, which he was incredibly excited about. Magazines or Novels, now scheduled for an August 5 release on S-Curve Records, was hard fought and clearly a labor of love. Grammer’s debut, self-titled album came out three years ago. It hit #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers, and spawned Platinum (“Keep Your Head Up”) and Gold (“Fine by Me”) singles so, understandably, there’s a question as to how this new album will stack up against the first record. If the songs Grammer has showcased live combined with his own enthusiasm about Magazines or Novels is any indication, he has nothing to worry about.

As evidence of his enthusiasm—and dedication to his craft—Grammer explains the writing process for Magazines or Novels. “I wrote about 50 songs, which is a lot of damn songs. A lot of cutting your heart open and seeing what’s there.” Many musicians would stop there, finding their job done—but not Grammer. He continued, “The truth of the matter is after the first 50—which didn’t have something that made my heart freak out, it just wasn’t there—I wrote another 50.” Those songs were the result of the writing process, which Grammer describes as “like treasure hunting. The majority of the time, what that is? That’s hard labor.” He sums up the whole experience: “The writing process kicked my ass pretty hard.” Now, though, it seems that he knows the work was worth it, and the album is better for it. Speaking of Magazines or Novels and the result of all that hard work, he says, “We have stuff I can’t wait to share with people.”

The songs from the album he’s performed live thus far—the single “Back Home” as well as “Forever,” “Honey I’m Good,” and “Holding Out”—do show that the labor was worth it, and his heart is clearly exposed. While all of the songs could loosely be described as fun, they don’t hesitate to tackle a mixture of serious and light-hearted topics. “Back Home” is a summer anthem about returning to your roots, and “Forever” is a fun song about waiting for his wife to get ready to go out. “Honey, I’m Good,” however, is, as Grammer called it, a “hoedown” about facing temptation out on the road, and “Holding Out” references the prayer and porn that helped him maintain his virginity till he met his wife. They’re all catchy, witty, and indicative of Grammer’s outlook. After our first meeting three years ago, before the first album was released, he remains one of the most positive people I have ever met.

His outlook, no doubt, has helped him maintain himself during three years of touring, recording, and getting an intimate look at the music industry from the place of a recording artist. I asked him about the balance of music and the business side of things, making sure he didn’t feel he had lost his focus. “The more I focus on the creative, the happier I am,” he says That isn’t to say he’s careless with things. He realizes there’s a lot of pressure going into the release of Magazines or Novels. He knows balance between creative and being able to stick to a deadline. He explains, “You need to have a vibe, and you need to be filled with wonder when you create. You also have legit deadlines that need to be met, which are vibe killers.” He continues, “That is the balance, especially with a second album, when you had your whole life to write the first one, and the second one needs to get done in a certain amount of time.”

He did get the album done and is now touring to support the release. He says he’s excited about how good he thinks the show will be because of some of the risks he took sonically on the new album, and how that has been playing out on stage. He’s developed as a performer in the last few years, even before recording the new album, but it’s always been one of his strengths. He excels at making the audience feel a part of what he’s doing, whether he’s headlining Old Rock House, or playing acoustic on the edge of the stage at The Peabody after all of the power to the stage decided to die.

The show in St. Louis—where hopefully the power will stay on—will be a good introduction to Magazines or Novelsand a continuation of Grammer’s development as an artist. He clearly still loves music, loves his job, and wants his fans to know he loves them, too. He says, “I want to be of service to them in their day, when they put the headphones on and want to go somewhere. I want to take them somewhere awesome.” Grammer’s live shows do just that, and it’s no doubt that this show will be no exception. | Teresa Montgomery

Andy Grammar plays the Old Rock House in St. Louis Wed., July 9. Doors 7 p.m., show 8, tickets $20 flat. Brendan James and Andrew Ripp to open.

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