For every album Andy Grammer writes, there are 100 songs that came before it — at least.
In the case of his third studio release, “The Good Parts,” it was 115.
But who’s counting, the musician said.
“Writing’s an always thing,” he said. “I think in the beginning, there’s this myth that you’ll get the song and then you’ll have reached the mountaintop. I don’t know where that myth comes from, but I think a lot of artists feel that way — ‘You’ve gotta get that song.’ But then if you’re lucky enough to get it, you’re like, ‘Oh shit, I gotta get another one.’
“I still don’t know how you get the good, good stuff,” he continued. “I think in most art, the best thing, like a good joke, is usually something that someone puts into words that you’ve already felt. And the fact that you felt it and they felt it, and there’s a good spin on it, makes it feel funny. So a great song is when someone relates a truth about life that is universal. You’re always chasing the universal. And what’s crazy is the more that you go vulnerable and deeper into your own thing, a lot of times that’s how you get into it. But it’s really hard and it doesn’t happen that often, so I have to write a ton to get to it.”
He wouldn’t pick up a guitar, or put his thoughts to paper, until he was 15 — despite growing up in a musical household under the tutelage of his father, Grammy-nominated children’s musician Red Grammer, as a self-described jock.
“It was a mixture of a Lauryn Hill album and a John Mayer album that I heard in the same week. And I was like, ‘Oh God, this is amazing. I need this,’” he recalled. “I hadn’t really taken music very seriously until that, and then both those albums hit me at the same time and I was like, ‘Whoa, this is awesome.’ And it shifted my focus.”
He moved to Los Angeles, his wild optimism crushed as gig after gig slipped through his fingers, unable to land them. “Nobody knew you, or cared about you,” he said.
His only option was to snag a $40 permit and perform all day on the street — honing his moves, which usually started with “Hey! Hey, hey, hey! Give me one second!,” and slowly making a name for himself, front and center on the Santa Monica Pier.
They are days he remembers fondly, and when given a moment, he can slip right back into that shout for attention — one that is long behind him, rendered obsolete.
With massive hits on the radio — think “Keep Your Head Up”, “Fine By Me” and “Honey, I’m Good,” just to name a few — the present-day multi-platinum pop artist is selling out stadiums, guest starring on “American Idol” and making fans of all ages swoon as they belt his lyrics word for word.
It is a reality he still can’t believe at times, he said, and often credits his roots for the musician he is today. Busking was a training ground, and set the bar high, he said.
“As an artist, you want to create your art and you want people to get enjoyment from it. That same feeling happens when 10 people, or even three people, stop on the street corner and smile at you in a way that’s like, ‘Oh alright, they’re really liking this,’ and actually being of service to them,” he said.
“It’s the same kernel as when you play for, like, 10,000 people and they’re all singing the words. It’s just this idea of, like, you are actually doing something that makes people happy, or feel a certain way, or takes them somewhere. It’s a really special thing when that happens.”
He paused, and laughed to himself. “But I think there’s a sweetness when you don’t have to try so hard to get people to stop.”
On his most recent tour of “The Good Parts” — which he will bring to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, June 29 — he took a few risks with the audience, peppering in spoken word poems and more stories between his hit songs.
It was a certain level of freedom that he knew he finally had, he said, and it felt good.
“The last thing I ever want to do is lose a crowd. I think that was really engrained in me as a street performer,” he said. “I’m very cognitive of making sure that they leave highly entertained, but what’s awesome is they can leave entertained but also a little bit moved, and that’s the coolest.”
These days, Grammer is just getting started on his fourth album, which is a bit lighter and more upbeat than “The Good Parts,” he said.
“The last one was really about a lot of depth and going deep, and leaning into the struggles of being alive and being vulnerable and open,” he said. “It’s my favorite so far, but it was kind of heavy and cool.”
He wrote a number of the songs about his daughter, Louisiana, who was 9 months old during the May interview. At the time, she had three teeth, Grammer explained — two on the bottom, one on the far right — his fatherly obsession with her nearly palpable through the phone.
“She’s real cute. It’s so awesome right now,” he said. “There’s a couple songs off the album that take me out of performing in a good way. There’s a screen sometimes that tells the members of the band, and me, what’s coming up. And so the guy who operates that screen puts a picture of her on there, and it always makes me smile whenever I see that.
“It’s my favorite part of life,” he continued. “Dad life is the best. I think I’m hitting my peak stop right now.”
As published in the Sag Harbor Express