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From hustling street performer on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to Platinum-selling recording artist, it seems like just yesterday that ANDY GRAMMER was discovered by Steve Greenberg and signed to S-Curve Records. With his 2011 self-titled debut album, Grammer became the first male pop star in a decade, since John Mayer in 2002, to reach the Top 10 at Adult Pop Radio on his first two singles, “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me,” certified Platinum and Goldrespectively, selling more than 1.5 million downloads combined.
In just a few short years, Grammer has gone on to sell over 100,000 albums, play sold out venues nationwide, perform onstage with Taylor Swift, Train, and Colbie Caillat, appear on an array of national TV shows, receive major song placements in film and TV, receive two BMI Pop Music Awards, grace the cover of national touring trade magazine Pollstar and present at their annual awards show, among many other accomplishments.
While hard at work on his highly anticipated sophomore album titled Magazines or Novels, due outAugust 5 onS-Curve Records, Grammer released “Back Home,” a joyously anthemic track that illustrates his knack for writing infectious, relatable songs remains strong, as does his soaring voice. It also showcases the musician’s growth since his last full-length release. On the new album, Grammer reinforces his place among elite male pop artists through honest reflections of theimpressive ride he’s been on during the past couple of years.
“‘Back Home’ is about those friends, specific places and vivid memories that remind us who we are,” says Grammer, who wrote the song while far from home on a national headline tour, hoping to recapture that which is always part of him.
“Back Home”is already wowing critics and fans alike. Since its debut on RyanSeacrest.com in March, it has been said “Back Home” has “the same infectious feel as his former chart-topping singles” and it also debuted at #8 on Spotify’s Top 50 Viral streaming songs across the U.S. Since then, a lyric video for the single premiered on OK! Magazine’s website, as well as Vevo, and the official music video premiered on Billboard.com. Grammer played an acoustic version of “Back Home” forPerez Hilton TV recently as well, serving as a tantalizing preview of the full album.
The son of a Grammy-nominated children’s performer Red Grammer, he often joined his dad on-stage to sing, promoting his fierce ambition to succeed. His father instilled his work ethic and taught him to respect his audience. “I saw what it took to cultivate an artistic career,” Grammer says.
By ninth grade, Grammer taught himself to write songs on his dad’s guitar, with a first group, Out of the Blue, which played his first original composition, “Doorstep,” at a battle of the bands contest.
Hearing the 1998 Grammy-winning album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill “shifted things inside of me and I loved it,” says Grammer, who cites Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Common and Coldplay among his musical influences on his mix of hip-hop, acoustic singer/songwriters and piano rock.
His self-titled S-Curve Records debut was the product of intensive, deliberate practice and a personable performance style that involved entertaining on the streets of Santa Monica with his car battery-powered amplifier and acoustic guitar.
Songs from the upbeat “Keep Your Head Up” and the breezy “Fine by Me,” to the jubilant horns of “The Pocket” and the emotional “Miss Me,” found Grammercreating pop songs with both heartfelt, relatable lyrics and instantly hummable hooks.
His background singing on the streets helped him hone his performance style, and clued him in on audience expectations. The success of his debut album brought him to places he had dreamed of, but never expected to visit.
“I’m just trying to track down the truth,” says the L.A.-born performer, who grew up in New York. “My favorite thing is writing from a bird’s-eye view, whether it’s a break-up or a good relationship. I like to be far enough away to see the whole scope of what’s occurring.”
His platinum debut Top 5 hit single “Keep Your Head Up”was admonishing himself to maintain the faith in the wake of frustration. The groundbreaking interactive video – a partnership between VEVO, S-Curve and innovative tech company Interlude – won an MTV O Award for Most Innovative, topping Arcade Fire, Robyn and OK Go! The clip starred The Office’s Rainn Wilson, whom Grammer calls “a gracious, amazing guy,” he met through a former roommate. “Keep Your Head Up” has been heard on several TV shows and films, including a prominent placement in the movie “Pitch Perfect” where the main characters sang the song.
Grammer’s second single off his debut album,“Fine by Me,” also sailed into the Top 10 on the Adult Pop chart and wascertified gold. Grammer describes the track as “about having my heart stolen” talks about love as “an all-or-nothing emotion.” Although he initially tried to play it cool, he proceeded to “falling so hard in about four days.”
“Miss Me,”his third single off his album, climbed to #15 at Hot AC. Music videos for all three hit singles reached the Top 10 onVH1’s “Top 20” weekly video countdown.
Grammer’s 28-date Back Home Summer Tour, featuring opening acts Andrew Ripp, Kate Voegele and Brendan James, gets underway June 10 in Phoenix, and includes a June 16 date at the Hollywood Bowl, where he will perform on a bill which includes Ed Sheeran, Demi Lovato and Colbie Caillat, and a show at New York’s Irving Plaza on June 26 following his first nationally televised morning show performance of “Back Home” on “Good Morning America” that morning.
“I appreciate the opportunity to get in and move things around in people,” he says. “The best gigs take place when you can see the whole room has moved somewhere together.”
This summer, he’ll be taking those audiences “Back Home,” a place where Andy Grammer still lives in his heart, even when he’s far from there.
In the three years since Andy Grammer released his self-titled debut album, the Los Angeles native singer-songwriter known for his vibrant pop/rock/soul mix has taken an incredible journey. Emerging as one of the biggest success stories in 2012, Andy has performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (three times) while sharing the stage with Taylor Swift, Train, and Colbie Caillat. He was named the first male pop star, since John Mayer in 2002, to reach the Top 10 at Adult Pop Radio on his first 2 singles, “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me”, both certified Platinum and Gold respectively with more than 1,500,000 singles sold together.
Now, in 2014, the acclaimed musician who began as a street performer in Santa Monica, CA is preparing for the release of his second studio album – an album he has been quietly working on and pouring his heart and soul into while in the midst of touring his first record. On March 25, Andy surprised both fans and critics alike when he debuted his lead single, “Back Home”, off of his upcoming sophomore album. The anthemic feel-good jam blends his infectious pop style and an upbeat folk production, leaving summer graduates and listeners repeatedly singing along to the contagious chorus and nostalgia-induced lyrics. For Andy, “Back Home” is “about those friends, specific places, and vivid memories that remind us who we are”. It was an important song for Andy to write while he was away from home and on a national headline tour.
On April 8, Andy surprises his fans by announcing his second headline tour, the Back Home Summer Tour, in conjunction with the release of “Back Home” on iTunes. With 26 confirmed tour dates in the summer, Andy is poised to make this year another big success story.
It’s widely known that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at anything. Andy Grammer logged his 10,000 hours of practice on the streets of Los Angeles. With his car battery-powered amplifier and acoustic guitar in tow, Grammer managed to sing his way from the streets to the center of the music industry.
One listen to Grammer’s self-titled S-Curve Records debut and it is clear that this young man has become an expert. From the buoyant “Keep Your Head Up” to the breezy “Fine By Me,” to the jubilant horn-laced “The Pocket,” and emotionally-charged “Miss Me,” his irresistible pop songs blend heartfelt, compelling lyrics with instantly unforgettable melodies.
Even though he knew music would be his path, Grammer never assumed it would be an easy road or that he could take any success for granted. He played any corner that would have him—using every experience to hone not only his songwriting craft but to learn how to understand his audience. His desire to be heard led him to the streets: “I didn’t know what else to do. So I just went out there and started playing.”
The success of Grammer’s album would exceed even his expectations. “That I even get to play a sold-out show where people know the words, and I’m singing about things I’m connected to is such a blessing,” he says. “It’s the equivalent of a nine-year-old saying ‘I want to be an astronaut when I grow up’ and then getting to go to the moon. This year I’ve been to the moon, and it’s awesome.”
Grammer recorded the album in New York and Los Angeles with a collection of top producers, including Matt Wallace (Faith No More, Maroon 5), S*A*M & Sluggo (Train, Neon Trees), and Barrett Yeretsian (Christina Perri). “Basically, it was show up somewhere, really dig in with someone who’s going to help you get your creative vision across and then go somewhere else and do it again,” he says. “We got some really great stuff that I wouldn’t have gotten if I just worked with one producer.”
Every song that Grammer wrote on the album had one goal in mind: “I’m just trying to track down the truth,” says Grammer, who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in New York. “My favorite thing is to pop up above everybody and write from a bird’s-eye view. It may be about a break-up, it may be about a good relationship, it may be what we’re doing on this planet here. I like to be far enough away to see the whole scope of what’s occurring.”
While much of his music is upbeat, Grammer is quick to add that he’s hardly “pink and fluffy.” I’m not intentionally trying to be positive, I’m just trying to be real.”
In fact, Grammer wrote “Keep Your Head Up” as a letter of encouragement to himself after he’d spent an exhausting day street performing and had little money to show for it. The video–which features groundbreaking interactive technology in a partnership between VEVO, Interlude and S-Curve–won an MTV O Award for Most Innovative Video, topping entries from Arcade Fire, Robyn and OK Go! “The most challenging part about the video was the sheer amount of times we’d have to tape each cut so people can go through the video thousands of different ways,” Grammer says. “It was crazy.” The clip stars “The Office’s” Rainn Wilson. “He’s such a gracious, amazing guy,” says Grammer, who met Wilson through a former roommate. “He gave me tips on how to look in the camera. The video has gotten so much more exposure because of him coming and hanging out.”
Another album standout track is “Fine By Me,” with its intimate lyrics, sparkling pop melody and funky undertow. “‘Fine By Me” is about having my heart stolen,” says Grammer. “It’s a story about a girl who came into my life and just robbed it right from under me. In my experience love is an all-or-nothing emotion. We are all really protective of ourselves because we know that if we fall in love we’ll fall hard. So we kind of dance around the edges with our tippy toes in the water playing it cool. I went from playing it SO cool to falling SO hard in about four days.”
Grammer grew up in a musical household. His father, Red Grammer, is a Grammy-nominated children’s performer who gladly indulged his son’s desire to get on stage…to a point. “My dad would bring me up to sing with him. I’d just have a couple of lines,” Grammer remembers. “Afterwards, I’d say, ‘Dad, I think I’m going to need a bigger part in your show because I nailed that. Seriously, it was intense. I can see it in their eyes, they want more of me.’ I was six or seven and he just laughed and laughed.”
His dad gave Grammer an insider’s insight into what happens off stage as well. “The most important thing I learned from my father about being a musician was the work ethic,” Grammer says. “He worked really hard, he traveled all across the country. I saw his respect for his audience, respect for himself. I saw him take days off where he wouldn’t talk to rest his voice. I saw the work it takes to cultivate an artist’s career.”
In 9th grade, Grammer picked up his dad’s guitar and taught himself to write songs. “I knew one chord, so I was like, ‘I’m going to write the coolest song with one chord ever’,” Grammer laughs. His first band, Out of the Blue, got off to an auspicious start after playing some covers as well as Grammer’s first original song, “Doorstep,” at a battle of bands contest. “We did not win…at all,” Grammer says. “I thought it was going to be a big concert moment. It was fun, but it was like, ‘This is really hard and we suck.”
Around the same time, Grammer had a musical epiphany when he heard Lauryn Hill’s seminal solo album, 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. “It felt like it was shifting things inside of me and I loved it,” he says. Other artists who helped him influence his sound include Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Coldplay and Common. “For me, it’s always been about a mix of hip-hop, acoustic singer/songwriters and piano rock,” he says. “I pull all those together. Each song may lean more heavily on one than the other, but they all have all three pieces.”
So that’s what he did. Now based in Los Angeles, Grammer began playing everywhere he could, including gigs at more than 100 colleges and universities, as well as birthday parties and high school dance classes. “I’d send my music to a choreographer and she would choreograph a dance, then I would come in and play while 100 high school students would dance to my music,” he says. “They’d know all my music and come to my shows. It was all really fun. Any time you make the transfer of ‘I’ve created something and I’m giving it to you and I hope it makes you happy,’ that’s good.”
Performing live remains a communal experience for Grammer, who’s toured with Train, Gavin DeGraw, Colbie Caillat, Mat Kearney, the Plain White T’s, Parachute, and Natasha Bedingfield – among others. “As an artist, you have an opportunity to get in and move things around in people. It’s one of the only times during the day where they say, ‘I’m going to open up to some other stuff here,’ and you have that hour to get in and move stuff around and put it all back together. Those are the best gigs, where you can see that the whole room has moved somewhere together.”
A four-piece alt-rock outfit based in Brooklyn, American Authors use their razor-sharp musicianship and natural mastery of songcraft as a jumping-off point for sonic exploration. On their debut album Oh, What a Life, singer Zac Barnett, guitarist James Adam Shelley, bassist Dave Rublin, and drummer Matt Sanchez weave in everything from hip-hop grooves and Afro-Latin rhythms to dance-pop synths and Queen-inspired vocal harmonies—all while staying true to a rock-and-roll energy and melodic sensibility that’s highly refined. Featuring their breakout hit song “Best Day of My Life” and follow-up single “Believer”,” the sunny yet soulful Oh, What a Life is also built on a magnetic sense of optimism that’s carried American Authors from their formation at Boston’s Berklee College of Music to their down-and-out early years in Brooklyn to their current status as an internationally touring band on an ever-growing rise.
“Our number-one rule when we went to make this album was that we weren’t going to hold back or limit ourselves on any one particular sound,” says Barnett of Oh, What a Life. “All four of us have really eclectic musical taste, and we wanted to tie in all the different kinds of music that have inspired us throughout our lives. The most important thing was that we have fun and experiment, and see what happened when we got rid of any boundaries we’d put on our music in the past.”
Produced by Shep Goodman and Aaron Accetta, Oh, What a Life was born from the intensely collaborative approach that American Authors always take in creating new music. “Our songs tend to start with the four of us getting in a room together and trading ideas back and forth or sharing stories—a melody or groove or lyric can come from any of us,” Shelley says. And as they gradually brought in more sounds and styles to shape Oh, What a Life, the band ended up adding a host of new instruments to their repertoire, learning to play banjo, mandolin, accordion, melodica, and mandocello—as well as mastering the use of synth and drum machines—while in the throes of the recording process.
Despite their lack of restraint in making Oh, What a Life, the album proves a tightly crafted collection of pop-rock gems that—song after song—reveal American Authors’s irresistibly openhearted spirit. From the amped-up dance beats that kick off “Believer” to the epic folk-rock of the album-closing title track, the band channels their high-as-the-sky hope into songs marked by both soaring intensity and summery ease. On the anthemic “Best Day of My Life,” those good vibes radiate by way of breezy harmonies and propulsive rhythms, while “Luck” (a song about “family and the sacrifices we all make to follow our passions,” according to Rublin) turns its tension into stomping beats and blissed-out melody. Even in their darker moments—such as “Trouble,” an aching, acoustic-guitar-laced track that serves as Oh, What a Life’s sole straight-up love song, and “Heart of Stone,” an angst-ridden number driven by nervy guitar riffs—American Authors maintain a triumphant mood that’s deeply infectious.
The mix of boundless energy and melodic finesse that fuels Oh, What a Life owes much to each member’s near-lifelong devotion to making music. Forming in 2007 at Berklee—where Barnett, Shelley, Rublin, and Sanchez were all students—the band first took the name The Blue Pages and threw themselves into perfecting their pop-infused brand of indie rock. After two years of struggling to record and book tours on their own, the group dropped out of Berklee and moved to Brooklyn, where all four bandmates shared a cramped Bushwick apartment. Once they’d gotten settled in New York, the band changed their name to American Authors and began breathing new life into their songwriting and sound. “Being in a new city and feeling the inspiration that comes from that, it just felt like a fresh start,” says Sanchez. “We decided to go with American Authors for our name because an author can be anyone who tells a story through words, and we consider ourselves storytellers with our song lyrics,” Rublin adds, noting that the name also refers to each member hailing from a different corner of the country and bringing his own distinct background to the group.
Shortly after moving to Brooklyn, American Authors crossed paths with Shep Goodman while playing a gig in the city. Eventually signing with Goodman and Accetta’s production company Dirty Canvas, the band wrote and recorded “Believer” and quickly saw the track thrown into rotation on Sirius XM’s Alt Nation radio. With “Believer” fast landing on the Alt-18 Countdown and their eagerly received single “Best Day of My Life” building on the band’s momentum and greatly boosting their social media following, American Authors soon inked a deal with Island Records, took off on their first tour, and set to work on their debut album. “Everything happened so fast with ‘Believer’ and ‘Best Day of My Life’ blowing up and us going on tour, we ended up writing and recording the album at the same time,” recalls Sanchez. “But the way it worked out was that we didn’t have the chance of overthink anything—it was just us in the studio having fun and making the music that we wanted to make.”
Releasing Oh, What a Life in March 2014 and embarking on a national tour with OneRepublic in May, American Authors have spent almost the entire past year on the road and consider playing live essential to the band. “We love feeling the energy of the crowd and giving that energy back, and we go into every show thinking that this might be someone’s first show ever or their last show ever,” says Shelley. Already working on songs for their next album—with the help of a studio set up in the back of their tour bus—American Authors aim to continue instilling their music with the joyful urgency that fills their live show and first album. “One theme that runs throughout Oh, What a Life is this feeling of hopeful determination,” notes Barnett. “Before ‘Believer’ started taking off, we were at such a low point of being broke and jobless and down to our last dollar, but we just kept pushing to stay motivated and stay hungry. Our songs aren’t saying, ‘Don’t worry, everything’s gonna work out okay!’—they’re about all the ups and downs that everyone has to deal with, and how you have to keep moving and do what you want and create your own future, so hopefully someday you can look back at the good times and bad times and see how far you’ve come.”