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Andy Grammer Keeps His Head Up

Andy Grammer headlines the House of Blues Saturday night



    Few would take a look at pop star Andy Grammer -- or listen to any of his music, for that matter -- and think: This guy's a busker. But, sure enough, the smooth-voiced and extremely photogenic singer/songwriter (who headlines the House of Blues Saturday night) got his start doing just that on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. 

    "When I was younger, I did the open-mic circuit, and I used the Promenade to really develop myself," Grammer told SoundDiego. "I'd play one song and everybody would stop, and then I'd play a different song and nobody gave a crap. It was a good way to find out what my sound was. If everything dropped off and stopped, I'd probably still go out and play a little bit. I don't know if I would do it again, day-in and day-out though -- it's a serious hustle [laughs]."
    Since 2010, the hustle's been a little different: Grammer's opened for Plain White T's, Natasha Bedingfield and Colbie Caillat, performed on "The Rachael Ray Show," saw his self-titled debut album land on the Billhoard Hot 100 chart its first week of release and filmed a video ("Keep Your Head Up") with Rainn Wilson, who played everyone's favorite deranged co-worker, Dwight Schrute, on NBC's "The Office." Somehow, Grammer managed to stay impossibly upbeat about life.

    "My goal about being positive is finding something about life that resonates with people," Grammer said. "Life is hard, man. On an average day, there are parts that are super brutally hard and parts that are great. I just try to write songs about all those different parts. My analogy for [writing], which I probably use too much, is this: When Newton had an apple fall on his head, he wrote out what gravity was and everybody was like, 'Yo! Totally! That's exactly what happens to me all the time!' [laughs] You have to write songs like that -- songs that connect with people in a big way."

    The singer hasn't had any trouble connecting with audiences, as evidenced by the millions of YouTube video streams that continue to pile up. But, as with other artists who had immediate success, following that up can prove challenging.

    Andy Grammar's new album "Magazines or Novels" is due out Aug. 5"It's interesting: With the first album, I had an album of songs that came to me when they came to me, but for this second album, it was like, 'Hey, we need songs,' and there was a calendar, and we needed them by a specific date," Grammer said. "I think that's the main idea behind the 'sophomore slump.' You're really shoved into a timeline to create art, but art is not really a timeline situation. I wrote 50 songs for this record, didn't have what I needed, so I wrote another 50 -- and now I am super proud of this record and ready to share it with the world."

    The new album "Magazines or Novels" drops on Aug. 5, so it will be interesting to see if Grammer sticks with the style of production and songwriting he employed on his debut or if he plots a different course. He believes it's the latter.

    "The first record was probably a mix of John Mayer, Lauryn HIll and Coldplay," Grammer said. "This one's a mix of the Lumineers, Macklemore and Drake. I had a lot of fun with it."

    But what's with the title? Aren't we talking about music here?

    "To me, 'Magazines or Novels,' is the way -- as a culture -- we're listening to music right now," Grammer said. "Either I dig into it like a novel, or I flip through it like I would a magazine. I hope I've made an album that is worthy of grabbing your attention but holding it as well. I got some s--- for naming it that, but I don't care, man [laughs] -- it's cool."

    Makes perfect sense. Guess we won't be seeing him on the promenade any time soon.

    Andy Grammer headlines the House of Blues on Saturday with Kris Allen and Trevor Davis. The show is all-ages; tickets are available here.

    Dustin Lothspeich plays in Old Tiger, Chess Wars and Boy King. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.