Odds are if you have a car with a working radio you’ve heard Andy Grammer’s hit single, “Honey I’m Good.” But Andy’s musical depth and agility show that he’s no one trick pony and you’ll be hearing a lot more from this multi-talented singer-songwriter in the future. Recently I had the pleasure of having what Andy appropriately called “Not an interview, but a hang” at the Rivoli in Toronto.
Corey: Lets not start with the single, and maybe start things off on your musical influences such as your father and how he played a role on you getting into music?
Andy: For sure. Well, he is my best friend first of all. He is the man: Red Grammar – used to have red hair, not anymore (chuckles). So he went by Red Grammer and started out as a folk singer but really kind of caught his stride as a children’s performer. So he was a Grammy nominated children’s performer and what is cool about that is he and my mom used to write songs a lot when I was was growing up. The older that I get the more I realize how lucky that I was to grow up around and just kind of be in it and understand it. So when it came time to write a song there was no “How do I do this? How do I figure this out?” It was pick up a guitar and go. And I remember hearing them discuss over dinner if they thought that was going to be the hook or, “I don’t know if you’ll get away with that line.” Everything growing up was that, so it kind of bred me for my love of song. That is my favourite thing about this process. It’s like when you get a great song. There is nothing like that.
Corey: Cool, so lets talk a bit about the hunt for the right song. How does that process work for you? And do you write a song and just have that feeling of, “I think its going to be great”?
Andy: You know, I use to answer this question with a “No”, but recently I think you can kind of tell when some magic is happening. Its almost scarier when you’re doing something and you can feel that this could be really good. Then you’re like, “I just don’t want to mess it up now.“ Because you’re like halfway in and you’re like, “Wow, this could be amazing if I can lock this in.” Then it gets scary and kind of exciting.
Corey: So lets talk the big single now, “Honey I’m Good”. How did this one come together?
Andy: You know its funny, I have been asked so much about this song and so much of it is just persistence. I was at song 101 for this album. That song 101 I wrote was Honey I’m Good. So, man, that’s so many songs. You just have to keep showing up each time with the same sincerity and the same wonder to create something. The second that you go, “Well, I am on song 57 and well, that’s not going to be a hit, so whatever”, you have to come in and say “Today’s the day”. Number 58, I know it this is going to be it and I somehow try and figure out how to get in and sing about something I care about. It’s so hard sometimes.
Corey: You do a great job of telling a story in 3-4 minutes Do you find it tough once you get that riff or maybe that hook or having a hard time make the song last 3 or 4 min?
Andy: You, that stuff isn’t hard. The time length and even the melody stuff isn’t the hardest. The painstaking difficulty in songwriting is finding what the hell are you singing about that is worth anyone’s time. I use this analogy: Newton had an apple fall on his head and then he wrote out gravity. He wrote it out. And then everyone around was like “Totally. Gravity is happening to me every single day and all the time. Thank you so much for writing that out and helping me understand my way in this world.” So, that is what you are always trying to do as a songwriter. Its to capture something that we are all going through and when you give it to someone else it makes them feel something. It kind of shifts something around in themselves. And to get that in the song writing room is the hardest part of it all. Sometimes it takes like 20 tries to get it.
Corey: So lets talk a bit about how fans may perceive a song compared to what your intention or message was?
Andy: There is something about it that you just let it go. You create it and then let it go. And even with this one Honey I’m Good there has been a little bit of misunderstanding. You know sometimes you catch people: “Hey Andy, want a cookie for not cheating on your wife” and you’re sitting there thinking, “Man, you totally missed it.” But thats totally fine. You’re allowed to have that opinion. This album, more than the first one, was very much like, “I’m not going to try and explain myself in the song.” I used to be, like I would write and think if someone hears that than maybe I should qualify it somehow. Now it’s just like, “What if I was just talking to my best friend? What would I say?” Write that song and let everybody kind of figure out what they want.
Corey: What about the inspiration behind the music? I that tough sometimes? Is it sporadic for you or is it something that’s really thought out?
Andy: You know, sometimes its sporadic. I try to ingest as much inspirational stuff as I can and then pick out the stuff around it that I think is a cool topic, so then I have a list of stuff when I go into a room and I can kind of leaf through it. I would have to say half the time it comes from that and the other half it might just be a lick or something like that. It literally is like trying to get into a house that is locked. To get to something that is worth writing about. So every time I have dread. Every day that I would write it was like, “Oh Man, I got to get in the house again” (Punches the couch) It’s so hard to get in there sometimes. It’s like you’re knocking on the door but nobody is coming to answer it, so you go around and try every window and every door, and that’s what songwriting is to me. And sometimes it’s super frustrating and you spend 10 hours and you don’t get in. And then you go home and think, “What did I do today? I am pretty confused as to what my existence is because I just spent a whole day trying to get into a house and didn’t get in.”
Corey: You wear many hats as a musician and I was curious as to what hat you really like. Recording, songwriting or performing – what part of the process do you love most?
Andy: The one that is mostly dessert is performing, because at this point now people are showing up and they really know the words, and they know me, and we have a relationship. So its like an hour and a half of just the best thing ever. It really is just the best thing ever.
Corey: Collaborating – I know you wrote most of the stuff on the album, but there were a few with co-writers. Can you elaborate on what it’s like to co-write with someone in your process?
Andy: Co-writing to me is really good. I think of it like if you wanted to build a house and you know what you want but you’re like I kind of want it a Japanese style house and you have never made one of those before. So you get an architect to come and you talk about what you want to build. You show them your vision and they go, “Oh, well if you want to build that then you’re going to need these.” So for that it’s great and also just to learn. You know what has been so great about actually having some success is the fact that you now get to get into rooms with people that are so much better than you are. So that has made me a much better songwriter.
Corey: So the idea of a CMT Crossroads type of collaboration – is there anyone that you would be interested in working with in, say, another genre?
Andy: Yeah, we have actually been kicking around the idea of taking the song “Honey I’m Good” all the way country and that really sounds fun. (SIDE NOTE Andy has recorded his hit single with Big Machine Recording artists The Eli Young Band listen here). I really feel blessed to be a musician in this time period. There are some pros and cons to being a musician at this exact moment. One of the pros is that everybody has so much access to everything that everybody is really open to a lot of different sounds. So I think fans are really kind of lenient to be – that kind of sounds country pop and that one sounds a bit like Lauren Hill, and that sounds like something completely different. And people are cool with that. Whereas before you may have gotten lambasted awhile back for trying to run around and try a bunch of different things. Now its kind of like, “Is it a good song? Hit me with whatever it is.”
Huge thanks to Andy for taking the time to sit with me. Looking forward to the next trip up to Toronto to see this guy rock the stage. Want more on Andy take a look below. I would also like to thank Adam Fricke Photography on the use of a great LIVE shot of Andy.
Corey Kelly / @CoreyKelly76
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