In the day of the Internet-made superstar, Andy Grammer is a rarity. The 29-year-old has made a name for himself the old fashioned way: through hard work. For every YouTube sensation, a guy like Grammer is being lost in the shuffle. The son of singer-songwriter Red Grammer, Andy started playing guitar in his teens before continuing on LA's open mic circuit, even busking on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica before catching on with a wider audience. These days, Grammar is playing to packed mid-sized theaters.
Despite having released his debut on S-Curve Records in 2011, the singer is still touring behind that release while mixing in a few new songs that he's been working on. Ahead of his sold out show at the House of Blues in Anaheim on Thursday (if you still want to see him, there a few tickets left for Friday's gig in L.A.), we caught up with the singer who had a rare day off at home in Los Angeles to discuss touring, his struggles as an artist and The Office character that most resembles himself.
OC Weekly (Daniel Kohn): Is it still exciting to be playing a heavy tour schedule even though your album was released nearly two years ago?
Andy Grammer: If you're lucky enough to tour cross-country, you better get out there. It's amazing to have people coming. I did the L.A. thing for a while, just like small coffee shops, open mics nights and performing at the Santa Monica Pier. So now when you hear that over a thousand people will come in somewhere like Denver, you go and keep going because it's amazing.
Have you been working on and playing new material?
I'm writing a lot right now. We've been playing two or three new songs a night. They seem pretty cool and people seem to be into them.
What direction are you going in with these songs?
Hopefully great songs. There's not a sharp turn with any dubstep remixes coming. So it's like how can I write another 10-to-12 great songs.
What if there were a dubstep remix? How would your fans react to that?
If that's what needs to happen and that fits the song, then I'm down. I'm not opposed. I don't see myself making a crazy direction change. My whole goal right now is that it's crazy to write a good song and I have to write all the time to get one that I truly think is an awesome one. It's really hard.
What was it like playing at the Pier and at open mic nights? Is it easy to stay humbled when you're playing in front of much bigger crowds knowing that you started at the ground level?
There have always been challenges regardless of the venue. They're smaller challenges, like can I get 25 people to go to O'Brien's, this Irish pub in Santa Monica. No one wanted to come so it was really hard. Now that I'm lucky to have success, but it is still hard to sell places out. That's not even counting putting on a show. At O'Brien's, expectations were really low and now you have to entertain people for 75 minutes. It never ends and you never hit cruise control and go, “We got this, we're so good.” It's always a grind, the challenges just change.
Rainn Wilson of The Office was in one of your music videos. What are you feelings on the show finally coming to an end after nine seasons?
I'm sad to see it leave. I'm a huge fan of not only Rainn, but also the whole show. It's a bummer that it's leaving.
Which Office character reminds of yourself and why?
Definitely Andy (Ed Helms). Not because our names are Andy but because he's a super nerd and that's what I am. I love words and puns like really cheesy terrible jokes I think are amazing.
Not even because of the acappella thing?
I got turned down for my acappella group!
So what would you have to say to the person/group that turned you down with you making headway in the music world without needing them?
They were called The Crosbys at Binghamton University in upstate New York. Forget them, I've moved on. It made me stronger. There's no vendetta against them. You win some and you lose some. It's okay Crosbys, you're forgiven.