Singer talks wipeouts, tour, advice

Courtesy Josh Newton

After opening for musicians like Plain White T’s and Colbie Caillat, Andy Grammer is now the star of his own show. His career has had a complete turnaround, from street performing to headlining a tour and getting airplay on the radio with his hit song, “Keep Your Head Up.”

Grammer is making a stop at Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room on Wednesday, and The Miami Hurricane got a chance to talk to him about the tour and his debut album.

The Miami Hurricane: What’s the songwriting process usually like for you? Do the lyrics or music come first?

Andy Grammer: Usually, it’s a theme or an idea and once I get that theme down then I start writing the chords to try and feel that out. Then, hopefully after the chords, some lyrics will come.

TMH: Where did the idea behind “Keep Your Head Up” come from?

AG: Yeah, I was leaving the street from street performing one day and just knew that I needed to write something for myself, to keep myself going.

TMH: Did you set a goal for yourself while writing tracks for your debut album?

AG: Yeah, I didn’t really have any goals as far as, “Oh, I want to sell this much or I want to tour.” I just kind of knew that I loved doing it and I wanted to get it out to as many people as possible.

TMH: What musicians do you think influence your music?

AG: I definitely have three genres that influence me. The acoustic guitar scene, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Jason Mraz, that whole scene; the piano rock scene, Coldplay, One Republic; and then hip-hop, which is like Lauryn Hill, Common, Lupe Fiasco.

TMH: Any advice for aspiring college musicians?

AG: My advice is to write great songs and study great songs. And if you can’t write, then find a great song to sing. It’s all about the song. If you have a great song, then that’s the first step to something great, in my opinion.

TMH: Is this your first headlining tour? What’s that transition been like?

AG: Yeah, it is. It’s so awesome. I’m so psyched. It’s been kind of surreal because a lot of these shows are sold out, which is so weird and incredible. I pinch myself because it’s just so exciting. People are coming to see, not just me, but the art that we’ve created. That’s the coolest part.

TMH: What three things can you not live without while you’re on tour?

AG: I can’t live without my iPhone. My iPhone’s the main thing. And then like a pillow because I sleep everywhere. Anywhere that I can sleep for a second, I’ll go to sleep. If you give me an iPhone, a pillow and a guitar, I pretty much don’t need much else.

TMH: Are there funny tour stories yet?

AG: Earlier on the bus today, my merch man wiped out. The thing about the bus is that it’s always moving, so if you stand up to walk somewhere you don’t really decide where you’re going, the bus decides where you’re going because, you know, it’s in drive. So earlier this morning, my merch man, who is a big guy, went down hard. That was pretty awesome.

TMH: What can people expect if they check out one of your shows?

AG: I don’t see myself as just a singer-songwriter guy. I beatbox, I try to make the show more interesting, personally. My goal is to be bigger than just a guy who stands behind a guitar. We do some really cool covers; we cover Rihanna. It’s a good time.