At the start of the decade, Andy Grammer was just another new name in pop music trying to become a star. He scored hits with catchy, optimistic singles “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me,” but his future was still uncertain, at least as a Top 40 hitmaker. The singer-songwriter broke through in a big way a few years back with his sophomore record, which produced the smash “Honey, I’m Good,” which perfectly blended his hook-writing abilities with country-pop tunes.
Grammer dropped his third full-length The Good Parts today, which he says perfectly describes the music included on the record. Lead single "Fresh Eyes" has already gone platinum, and he sounds like he's ready to make this his biggest project yet. The pop singer spoke with Fuse about his new collection, what’s different this time around, and how his newborn daughter is his “favorite coffee date.”
FUSE: Even though this is your third time around, are you nervous at all with The Good Parts?
Andy Grammer: You know, it's funny. I definitely really want people to hear it. As far as being nervous, this is the first time I've put out something that I love so much that no, I'm not nervous, but then you're always nervous about how far of a reach it's gonna have. That's kind of hard to define or know or predict, but I'm not nervous that it's great. I love it. It's the first album I've put out that I'm like, “If you don't like it, then you don't like me, because I don't know what to tell you.” I did my thing as much as I could. I wrote like 115 songs. Every single one of them, if it wasn't on the album I would be devastated. Definitely nervous that it will get as much exposure as it could, but also just in love with it.
What about your past albums? Were you not as in love with those when they were released?
I think I was. I think there's a maturity to this one that I don't know was on the others. As a full body of work, this is my favorite. It might be that it's just so fresh, but I think it's more than that. So, The Good Parts being the title, it's like when a celebrity or someone that you care about releases a memoir and you're talking to your friend about it and you're like, "Did they talk about the fame or what everybody knows about them," and it's usually like, "Oh, yeah. Go to page 78. That's where it gets really good," and I feel like that's what all the songs are on this album—me searching myself for all the most interesting, vulnerable pieces and just sharing those.
Do you want people to take this as your most intimate, most interesting album, or do you want this to be something like a greatest hits in the making?
I mean, it’s hilarious to say greatest hits because who the hell knows what a hit is? No one knows what a hit is before it becomes this freak successful massive thing. Having had a couple, it's like you never know that. All you know is that it makes the hair on your arms stand up. That's the best I can do, right? It's the most refined version of my truth so far.
That's really fun when you feel like you've gotten that recorded, then it makes everything else so exciting. I feel so inspired right now. To me, the writing of the album is like the movie script, and then you get to go make a movie, whether it's actually the videos or just the show, or what the version is of when you do it just with your acoustic guitar, but the material itself I'm in love with, so now we get to go share it with everybody, and it's really sweet to be so excited—as or more excited than the first time.
“this is the first time I've put out something that I love so much that no, I'm not nervous”
Your last album was a commercial breakthrough. It sold a lot more and the lead single was really big, so what are your expectations this time around numbers-wise? Do you have any?
I mean, you always want to have huge smashes, but I think for me this time my biggest expectation is that, 'Okay, so some people know who I am, or you think you know who I am.' But as an artist, you want to just keep surprising people and letting them know a little bit more about yourself, and I think that this third chapter does that for sure. It goes into some more interesting, deeper topics that I'm wrestling with right now. I just had a little girl. There's a couple songs about a little girl on here. There's a song here about money, how I feel about money. There's a song about kind of singing a song at God, like why would you make me have a lower nature and a higher nature.
One of my favorite things to do is to try and write pop songs that have a little bit more going on than the average pop song, and that's a very delicate, hard thing to do, and a lot of times they fall into cheesy and never make it on the record. But I wrote like 115 for the album, and so any of the ones that made it on, I really love and feel like there's something special about it.
Songwriting-wise, producing-wise, and recording-wise, how did having a daughter change this album?
It's a spectrum of how happy and how frustrated you are, or how difficult life is. It pushes both of those farther apart, so the highs are a crazier high and the lows are a little more. You're not sleeping and it's crazy. So, that definitely affects my personal story, because I feel like I have a richer life all around, and I think that that comes across a little bit on this album
There's song directly about it, and then there's other ones just because I'm in this state of feeling a lot. You have a little kid and you have so much emotional access throughout the day that normally it'd be like you have to watch a full movie and it would take you somewhere, and at the end of the movie they hit you with the sucker punch and you cry because you're like, “Oh man, this is amazing.” Now, I literally buckle my little girl into her car seat and she'll smile at me, and I'll feel the exact same way right away. I feel so much all the time. It's crazy.
That sounds so...everyday. Here you are, about to tour the world, putting out this big pop album, but you're also buckling your daughter in and taking her to school.
Honestly, she’s my favorite coffee date right now. So, whenever I'm home I'll take her out. She's only three-and-a-half months, but the simple act of just having a coffee while your daughter stares and smiles at you is probably the coolest thing I've ever done. It sounds cliché, but I promise it's true. I'm as happy as I've ever been in my life. I feel like my art is really hitting a place that's my favorite. Not that it hasn't been in the past. I love both of my earlier albums, but this is definitely my favorite. I've got a little girl who's making my heart explode all the time. It's a good season in my life.
I've been listening to you since your first album, and this one sounds a little bit different. What changed for you musically?
You know, just being inspired by a lot of different things. To me, the throughline is less sonic and more lyric, which I think is really cool to chase. To me, it really is the good parts. All the topics are very vulnerable and sincere coming from me that made it onto the album, and then from there, once I knew I had that piece, then I kind of stretched the rubber band to figure out, well, how does the music sound? Let's chase it in a bunch of different directions, and that's kind of liberating as far as sonically goes. It's like I'm down to take tons of chances with the sound to make it match. To me, as long as it has the emotional content that I need, then I get pretty open to where we can go.
Looking at the tracklist, you have a feature with LunchMoney Lewis, which is not something I would've ever expected on an Andy Grammer album.
Oh, yeah. He's awesome. He's really, really great. We wrote that song “Give Love,” and I was trying to think of who... To me, it felt like it needed a feature on it. I met him at a couple of radio shows, and he's someone that I knew would fit over a song like that and we sent him the track and he sent it back, and it was fire and it was awesome. It went really well.
You talked about how there were a lot of different influences that have changed the musical direction on this album, and that you were willing to take some risks. What have you been listening to recently that's inspired you?
There's a lot of listening to Billy Joel and Paul Simon, and then also just enjoying some of the EDM stuff. Every morning I work out to a bunch of different playlists that have a bunch of EDM on it, and it's hard to miss in the moment right now, but a lot of it is so good. There's a lot of excitement in that genre because there's pieces kind of sprinkled in, so between the songwriters of old that I love that tell stories that you can follow, like a Billy Joel or a Paul Simon, so sometimes it went down that route. Sometimes there's some gospel elements that I really, really enjoy. I don't think there's one thing you can point to that's like, oh, I went and made this album. To me, it's like I made The Good Parts lyrically, and then what's inspiring me in that moment I took sonically.
Is there anything you want your fans to take away from listening to this when it comes out?
I don't know if this is right now, but let me say it: My brain was just thinking. There's this Ira Glass interview that was really cool, and he talks about how when you start, you get into any sort of art because you have good taste, right? So, you get into songwriting or writing or painting or making movies, whatever. You get into it because you have good taste, and then you start to create, and you're the first one to know that it's not very good because you have good taste. Right?
The only way to make your art align with your taste is to do it a billion times, and through persistence, you can get your art to a place that's where your taste is at, and I feel like this album is the highest that it's made it next to my taste, and so I'm ecstatic. I'm just so, so excited. I hope that people listen to it, and I hope it hits them the way that it's hitting me.
Watch Grammer's inspiration Billy Joel look back at his first time at Madison Square Garden in a classic Fuse interview below: