Listen: Laura Bennett catches up with Andy Grammer ahead of his Sydney show at the Metro.
In the leadup to his Sydney gig, Hope 103.2’s Laura Bennett caught up with the much-loved Andy Grammer, responsible for hits like Keep Your Head Up, Fresh Eyes and Fine By Me.
Andy chatted about how he stays so positive, how he pumps out so many hit songs, and how he made his start in busking. He said that street performing was the training ground that made him refine his craft.
“When you’re trying to get into clubs and nobody will book you, it’s a good way to practise and get a lot of feedback,” Andy said. “For me the street was a wonderful way to do that. You play a song and people don’t stop, play another one and people don’t stop, play a third song and they like that one for some reason. So you keep that one. There’s all sorts of gimmicks to make a crowd bigger, but if you don’t play something that moves them, they’ll all just leave.”
When he’s writing songs, Andy’s ultimate goal is to write what he calls “life-proofs”—hits that describe those moments we all experience, but struggle to articulate.
“Scientifically, people publish papers and try to write something that hasn’t been written yet, [about things] that we all go through; when you write it down and give it to everybody they go, ‘oh yeah, totally, this happens to me all the time’. I think a great song has that in it.”
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Keeping His Head up After Losing his Mum
One of Grammers biggest hits so far has been Keep Your Head Up—which he in fact wrote at one of his lowest points in life.
“My mum passed away when I was 25, and I was street performing, very poor, not a lot of prospects,” he said. “That [song] came after a long day of not making any money on the street…[thinking], ‘Am I crazy right now, because my other friends have real jobs, and I’m a street performer’ – which sometimes gets confused with homelessness! I’m out there doing my thing and getting no validation from any direction. So I kind of wrote that song for myself.
“I think music is a kind of a mirror, and when you hear it, you relate to yourself while you’re listening to it.”
“I have a lot of stressful things going on but where I rest and where I end, is ‘I know that it’s going to work out’, and I have to tell myself that a lot. Even when it’s hard to believe that.
“I think Keep your Head Up did that for me, when I wrote it from a place of ‘No matter what, it’s going to work’. And then when people heard it, I think it gave them that same thing.”
Grammer’s big hope for his listeners is that his music will bring joy.
“I think that music is a kind of a mirror, and when you hear it, you relate to yourself while you’re listening to it,” he said. “And if I’m someone that can relate to you some of the joys of being alive, then that’s really special.”
A man of infectious joy, Grammer feels that one of his purposes in life is to bring happiness to the world.
“It might sound pretentious but that’s my goal, and I work pretty intensely and obsessively on it,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of compassion before my mum passed away, because life was pretty easy. You don’t really want to hear happy songs from someone whose life is easy.”
With hit after hit, Grammer makes it sound like songwriting comes easily to him—but he works hard at it. For his latest album, he wrote 115 songs before he had 12 he was truly happy with.
“The 12 that made it all hit my standard,” he said. “I got teared up just listening to them. I brought an extra bus on my last tour and there was a studio in the back. So I’m just writing all the time, and just always chasing these ideas and trying to sing it in a way that hasn’t quite been sung yet.”