Andy Grammer isn’t holding anything back on his third studio album.
The “Honey, I’m Good” singer will release “The Good Parts” on Dec. 1, and the 12 songs on the album provide an intimate peek inside his life.
There’s the title track that he wrote as a cathartic release for his deceased mom. Then there’s “Always,” which he penned for his four-month-old daughter Louisiana, and “Smoke Clears,” a love song to his wife.
“The Good Parts is me telling as much as I can of the deeper sides of myself that I haven’t shared before,” he said. “It’s like an onion that gets deeper every time you cut it.”
Up until now, Grammer has built a reputation mainly as a feel-good singer with hits including “Keep Your Head Up” (the video even featured a pillow fight), “Fine By Me” and others. His biggest hit yet, “Honey, I’m Good,” was a country-pop smash that speaks to the sanctity of marriage — its video features real-life couples holding up signs saying how long they’ve been together.
And then there’s his philanthropic side.
His single “Fresh Eyes” provides a sobering look into the issue of homelessness in the U.S. In the video, Grammer visits Skid Row in Los Angeles as well as the Union Rescue Mission, the city’s oldest shelter, and documents how the residents can turn their lives around with a little help. He ends the video with a personal plea for his fans to donate to the cause and “spread the love.”
Unlike many celebrities, Grammer is remarkably open, both in his personal life and his music. And it’s this willingness to invite others into his world that sets him apart.
Born 33 years ago in Chester, N.Y., a suburb of New York City, Grammer grew up a jock who played the trumpet, guitar and piano. He started writing songs as a teen and after a short stint at Binghamton University in upstate New York, he relocated to Los Angeles where he started playing his music on the Third Street Promenade.
Although he said he never loved street performing, it nevertheless allowed him to showcase his music and hone his craft. “It’s like freedom of speech — they can’t tell you not to do it,” he said. “When no one will put you on at a club or venue, you can go to the street, just start singing and get a lot of good feedback from people as they walk by. I got really good at lip reading and seeing if a song is working. It was a good way to start.”
Soon after, he wrote the song that would change his life.
“I wrote my first single, “Keep Your Head Up” and that’s what got me on the radio and helped me develop a whole base around the country,” he said.
Now that arena shows and television appearances have replaced street performances, Grammer finds his life is a whirlwind of activity.
This fall, he toured Australia in advance of the album release and is readying an even larger and longer tour to promote “The Good Parts” next year.
“My last single, ‘Fresh Eyes,’ did really well over there. It was the first time I could say that phrase: ‘I’m huge in Australia,’” he said with a hearty laugh.
While he’s looking forward to sharing his new music with his fans, it’s also hard to be away from home with a new baby in the picture. Since Louisiana is so young, she hasn’t been traveling with him and is staying home with his wife Alija.
“Trying to find that work-life balance with a tiny baby and a touring musician is really tough, but we’re doing it,” he said. “Right now, I get a video every three hours and it’s awesome. Let’s see if we can keep that up.”
But Grammer is so enamored of the new album that he’s willing to do what it takes to promote it.
“Touring is really hard because you’re gone for three months at a time,” he said. “Unless you feel the way I feel right now, which is I’m so proud of this music, then don’t do it. But I do and I’m more excited about my third album than I was in the beginning, which is really nice because you get worried maybe some of the excitement drops, but it doesn’t.”
Grammer actually wrote 113 songs before narrowing it down to the 12 that made the cut for the album. And the title came as a result of a different kind of birthday celebration.
“For my birthday this year, I invited all my friends over,” he related. “I lost my mom about nine years ago and I didn’t want a big party, but I miss my mom and I wanted to somehow feel connected to her. So I wrote my friends an e-mail and asked if they would all come and hang out and tell stories about my mom. It was so awesome and was the best night of my year. That’s ‘The Good Parts’: Tell me your story, but don’t leave the good parts out.”
That same vunerability is evident in “Smoke Clears,” his newest single. While he and his wife were on vacation in Ireland, he had “an episode.”
“I had been running so hard that my body was like: ‘You’re done, you’re out.’ So I fainted and chipped my tooth and spent all the time in a Dublin hospital. That song is about my wife and I being there for each other no matter what.”
Grammer said the album is filled with a “more-mature batch of songs” this time that will showcase the many sides of his personality.
“I’m definitely not always happy,” he said. “I feel weight like everybody else. But I do come from a school of thought that tests make you grow. So if you truly believe that, even when you’re going through pain, it’s framed differently. Rarely do I say, ‘F–k everything.’ That’s not something that comes into my vocabulary.”
Since becoming famous, Grammer has also upped his fashion game.
“It’s something that I’ve definitely learned to enjoy,” he said. “Growing up as a jock, if it fit, it was fine. High school was the ribbed black Structure T. But now being out in Los Angeles, it’s fun to put stuff together.”
By working with a stylist, he’s started to take some chances and now looks at fashion as “fun rather than just function. If I’m going to play a New Year’s Eve ball, I say, ‘Let’s get crazy,’ I might throw on a bow tie and a red jacket. With the events I get to go to, I can stretch the rubber band a bit and not look pretentious or ridiculous. I enjoy it.”
He also enjoys sharing his music and is eager to see how the new album performs. While Grammer knows the work won’t appeal to everyone, he’s OK with that.
“I know that I gave everything I possibly had. I left everything on the field,” he said. “If you don’t like this album from me, that’s fine — you don’t like what I do — because I gave every grain of myself in this.”