Andy Grammer

Andy Grammer will perform on Thursday, Oct. 17, at The Mill and Mine in downtown Knoxville.

If he hadn’t found his muse by making music, Andy Grammer could have earned his living as a motivational speaker. Or, for that matter, as a professional cheerleader.

As it is, Grammer has plenty of reasons to preach positivity. After first scoring success in 2011 courtesy of his critically acclaimed self-titled debut album, he’s been on an upward swing ever since. He can claim six mega-hit singles, massive sales, hundred of millions of streams, sold-out shows throughout the country, and a sound that’s as bubbly as it is bucolic.

Still, given his insistence that there’s no reason not to be happy, the title of Grammer’s fourth album, “Naive,” may suggest some unintended cynicism. After all, a successful artist has reason to rejoice, while those who aren’t so fortunate often find themselves mired in the mayhem and divisiveness that accompany today’s troubled times. Even so, Grammer has a ready rebuke for anyone who can’t turn a frown upside down and celebrate life the way he does daily.

“Life’s good,” he insisted as he greeted his caller. “We’re having a good time.”

Indeed, it’s immediately apparent that Grammer doesn’t allow negativity to interfere with his merry mindset. At age 35, Grammer may be a perpetual Pollyanna, but he does acknowledge that life isn’t always easy. However he was quick to suggest that there’s always a solution when tackling its dilemmas.

“One of the ways that you still see the good in everything is to understand your pain,” he said. “Even in the darkest moments, if you can see why you were given pain, that perspective can be shifted. If you understand what it is you’re getting from it, the whole thing can shift and it becomes really cool. A state of understanding is much better than a state of sorrow.”

Given his penchant to wax philosophically, it seems only natural to wonder if he’s had some sort of training in the worlds of psychology, philosophy or therapeutic research.

“Not really,” he replied. “I grew up as a Baha’i, which is a world religion based on the unity of all religions. There was a quote I heard when I was growing up about dealing with pain. So I wrote a song called ‘Wish You Pain’ and it became a really cool part of my set.”

Nevertheless, Grammer paid a few dues of his own early on. He spent four years performing on the streets of Los Angeles.

“Doing that really teaches you what you got,” he said. “Strangers don’t care. When you’re playing music in the street, you quickly realize that what you’re doing is not of service to anyone. Until it is, it’s just not. (laughs) You really have to hone your skills and start figuring out how what you’re doing becomes a gift to somebody else.”

Those life lessons apparently impacted his perspective. Those teachable moments helped affirm his desire to make music.

“When you go to a show, kind of what you’re hoping for is to feel something with a lot of other people. You all want to be involved with it together. When you come to one of my shows, you feel something very awesome. It’s really special. I feel so lucky to get to do it every night.”

Even so, success can be a powerful seductress and once achieved, the challenge is to sustain it. Here again, Grammer suggests a solution.

“I think the way out of that is to follow what you love,” he suggests. “When it comes to creativity, if you’re considering if something’s going to be successful, it’s not going to make for great art. I think the way to go is to think, ‘What’s going to make me jump out of bed and sing about it?’ The more you get attuned to that part of yourself, the more successful you can be.”

That philosophy, he said, has been key to securing his stardom.

“No one cares about a song that’s a B plus,” Grammer said. “They only care about one that’s an A triple plus. It’s like when you’re walking by a street performer. They have to really impress you to make you take out your money. Something about what they’re doing or their lyric or their voice has to inspire you. The same thing has to happen in order to get your song on the radio or to get people to buy it or to go to your show.”

He also said he’s not concerned about his competition.

“That’s the wrong place to put your energy,” he said. “There’s not a lot you can do about it. It doesn’t make any sense to expend your energy trying to beat someone else. It’s useless energy. The best energy is used to figure out how what you can do to be a massive service to somebody else. If you can execute that, everybody shows up.”

 

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