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Andy Grammer knew what he was born to do. Before becoming a pop-sensation, the “Fine By Me” artist was on the streets of Santa Monica singing and playing what he loved just to make ends meet. Now, with “Fine By Me” on the Billboard Hot 100 and over a million “Keep Your Head UP” tracks sold, Grammer will tour with the likes of Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw. Still astounded by his success, Grammer spoke with TheCelebrityCafe.com where he explains his success, music and the man who taught him everything.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: You just passed the threshold of one million tracks sold, tell me what your reaction was when you found out the news?
Andy Grammer: It’s kind of incredible…you just can’t even imagine. It used to be the only people that would buy my things or come to my shows were people that I knew. So then you start thinking, man, I don’t know a million people… that’s really great! At some point, you just can’t even comprehend it anymore, it’s just so insane. It’s great.
TCC: Tell me about you performance in the Johnny Cash musical Celebration in Austin, TX.
AG: What an incredible honor to be one of the people there - there were some serious heavy weights there. I shared a dressing room with Pat Monahan from Train. Willie Nelson was there, Kris Kristofferson, all of these super musical heavyweights. I was definitely one of the younger guys nipping at their heals trying to compete. It was really, really fun. It was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had so far.
TCC: I read that you first started off as a street performer in Santa Monica, how did your career transpire from there?
AG: Yeah, I just kind of got the bug to perform and try to make people smile early, so for about three years I went out and performed on the street and made my rent by selling my CD’s on the street. From there, going out and doing it every day you kind of get a little buzz around you. Then a manager came out and saw me and we started working together and we produced a song called “Keep Your Head Up,” with a group called Lion Share in New York City. Once “Keep Your Head Up” started to take off then things really started to move. It’s been crazy awesome ride.
TCC: Your story is inspiring because you knew you wanted to be a musician, you knew it would be a difficult road, but you took every opportunity available to you to make your dreams come true. Was there ever a moment where you thought, “I just can’t do this?”
AG: That moment is all about you - that is your choice to decide that moment. It’s really up to you, it isn’t an inevitable moment. I think we talk about that moment as ‘Well, really that happened,’ but it’s not. You decide if you think that’s going to happen or not. That never crossed my mind that it wasn’t going to work. It really didn’t. For as long as I started working, I mean, there were definitely moments of, ‘How long is this going to take,’ but it was never like, ‘Oh man, this won’t work.’ So, no, I never had that moment.
TCC: You’ve gone from street performing to touring with the likes of Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw in and upcoming Spring tour- what is the most exciting part about touring for you?
AG: I think the most exciting part is to be on the same bill as those two incredible artists. That’s really exciting, I’m a huge fan and respect both Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw. I think, if it were the three of, I’d want to go see that show! The venue size is the biggest I’ve ever played before consistently and, man, what a dream come true to be able to play with that many people every night, it’s going to be really awesome.
TCC: You released an EP of “Fine By Me” as a duet with Colby Caillat. Do you have any future plans to record any other duets?
AG: Right now there is nothing in the works, but yes, definitely. One of the coolest parts about getting some notoriety in the music industry is you get to start trying stuff with other people. That was the first one I did. Colbie Caillat is a great friend and just an incredible artist. I would love to do more of that stuff - it’s really fun. To get to do a duet with someone like Colbie Caillat or anybody else of that nature, yes, I’ll be doing more of that.
TCC: What is the biggest risk you have taken as a musician?
AG: The biggest risk I’ve taken would be, clearly it is a risk to try out your career. I think that’s the only way you can really make it work, to get to the highest level… I mean, you’re the only on this planet for so long, so if I was doing another job while I was trying to do music, it would be just so much time that I was wasting not getting good enough at what it is that I’m trying to do, which is music and song writing and performing.
The biggest risk was coming out of college and not getting a job, just going to the street - that was a pretty serious risk… It was a fun risk! I didn’t really think twice about it. But, I don’t think it’s any bigger of a risk than anyone who’s starting their own company…like an internet company, or you start a company that wants to sell knives, or you want to start a business it’s like, there’s always risk in that, you know?
TCC: You said growing up that you got most of your musical influence from your father. You spoke of work ethic and training to be an artist, how have you used that knowledge now in your own career?
AG: I think I got from him is that it wasn’t a crazy idea. You definitely see other artists growing up and they don’t quite see it as a norm that you can do this and make this work, and make a living out of it. So that was kind of the coolest thing that I got from him, he’s a children’s performer - which is basically a created job. He found what he was here to do, and he’s like ‘I’m going to do that! I’m going to make my own business and travel the country and sing to kids about virtues,’ but it’s like, if your dad does that then you’re understanding of what you’re capable of doing in the world is very different. He gave me that for sure, it’s a really cool viewpoint.
TCC: How has he responded to your success?
AG: He’s just so excited. When he comes to a sold out show it’s just the coolest thing. My dad is… I just love my dad so much, he’s the best.
TCC: Following the massive success of your self-titled album, tours, press conferences etc., do you have any down time?
AG: Well, you know I get a little… I get little moments here and there, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I mean, to get the opportunity- well, it’s what I’ve been saying, it’s like the opportunity I’ve had this year is like the opportunity to go to the moon. I know there’s not that many people who get to do it and I’m just so grateful. I’ll trade sleep for that any day.
TCC: Once your tour concludes, what can fans look forward to seeing from you next?
AG: So once this Colbie and Gavin tour is done, then I have three weeks off, then I go out with Train and Matt Kearney.
Image: Josh Newton