By Annie Reuter
When Andy Grammer hopped into a cab to head back to his house after his Back Home Summer Tour ended, his cab driver asked if he was a musician.
“It was the most bad-ass moment I may have ever had in my life,” Grammer told Radio.com recently. “We got in the car and he asks ‘Where you going?’ And I told him my address and he goes, ‘Are you a musician?’ And I say, ‘Why don’t you turn that up.’ Cause ‘Back Home’ was on the radio. It was the most bad-ass James Bond moment. ‘You should probably turn up the radio because that’s what you’re asking about.’”
“Back Home” is the lead single off Grammer’s sophomore album, Magazines or Novels, out Aug. 5. The follow-up to his 2011 self-titled debut, this time around Grammer took inspiration from artists like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Drake and Coldplay with their honest lyrics. While he likens his debut to a first meeting, Grammer said Magazines or Novels is more like a best friend that he shows his scars and wounds to.
“What I was finding was the music that I was listening to, people were sharing of themselves in a deeper way. A lot of the albums that I’ve been really into are like, ‘Oh man. That doesn’t make him look like a perfect human. That actually shows his warts and his scars and for some reason I’m super drawn to him now because he shared that or she shared that with me,'” Grammer explained.
“That was the biggest shift. I’m going to try to go more after humanity and more after honesty and hopefully people will feel that and it will pull them in the way I’ve been pulled into other artists. It was a little scary to go after exactly what I wanted sonically because I knew it was such a departure but I love it. I think people will follow you if it’s what you love.”
Where Grammer’s debut was mainly written on piano and guitar for a street crowd where he performed in Santa Monica, Calif., Magazines or Novels was written while on tour with acts like Train who were playing in front of big crowds. And, performing a song for arena audiences is very different than for those passing by on the street.
“How do you mirror your life, even the dark interesting parts, and keep people bobbing their heads?” he asked rhetorically. “I think I did it. I hope.”
Songs like “Holding Out” are just one example of Grammer’s blatant honesty. What he calls the most honest song on the album — which details saving his virginity for that special someone “with a little bit of prayer, a little bit of porn sorry” — he said many friends who heard the song said he shouldn’t cut it.
“It’s almost like they are reading a diary entry,” he admitted. “It’s uncharted territory which is really, really fun. Anytime you’re doing art like that where it’s like, ‘I haven’t heard anybody say this s–t.’ Has no one said this because it’s super scary and I’m going to get destroyed for it or because it’s really awesome, new, uncharted territory? Anytime I hear songs that are so honest, whether they make the person who’s singing it look good or not, there’s a level of honesty that resonates with people. They’ll forgive whether you look cool or look like a dick if it’s honest. There’s something that rings true about honesty in music. That’s what we’re all looking for.”
Other highlights on Magazines or Novels include the ethereal “Remind You,” which Grammer wrote to reassure himself that he shouldn’t be chasing radio hits but instead be writing genuinely, as well as “Sinners,” which he wrote about his mother who passed away six years ago. “It’s a really sweet song about her,” he added.
While Grammer looked to honest writers like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Drake and Coldplay for his new album, Eric Clapton also provided inspiration, specifically on “Forever.”
“I really wanted to write a song like Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight.’ It’s just such a sweet sentiment. It’s so simple but so genuine. Everyone has had that moment that he’s talking about in that song. It’s almost too sweet but I know that feeling so it gets a pass. ‘Forever’ is that. Women take so long to get ready but when they get out of the bathroom they look smokin’ hot. That’s the struggle of men throughout history waiting by the door. The wait is so worth it. Always.”
Magazines or Novels will be released on Aug. 5
01. “Honey I’m Good”
02. “Back Home”
05. “Holding Out”
06. “Remind You”
09. “Red Eye”
10. “Blame It On the Stars”
11. “Kiss You Slow”