Andy Grammer is looking forward to hitting the stage Saturday night at the Fort Sill Polo Field.
He’s come a long way from busking on the 3rd Street Promenade in Los Angeles. He’s not that far removed from those days either. They are days that helped formed him.
No stranger to early mornings with his 5- and 3-year-old daughters, Grammer spoke from his California home with The Constitution Tuesday morning in anticipation of this weekend’s free Sillfest concert.
“It’s the best part of life,” he said about his young daughters. “I have a lot of songs about my daughters, too. I’m soaking that up.”
Grammer said his positive outlook was borne from his time performing in public at a busy site. You learn a lot about your art and yourself in four years of that, he said.
“You learn to kind of keep your head up,” he said. “I got out there and just, like, sang for four years.”
Grammer said you learn how to connect with an audience. Already an upbeat guy, it only enhanced that. It provides a healing energy for artist and, hopefully, audience.
“My favorite thing is to kind of uplift people,” he said. “Music has a special way of getting us to go deeper with ourselves. … It’s Advil in song for me.”
Humility is another thing that comes with it. Grammer credits his late-mother, who passed away 14 years ago, with imbuing him with encouragement. It paid off with the song, “Keep Your Head Up” that broke through and opened the door to where he is now. He credits her support with all that’s followed.
“I never take it for granted I get to do this for a living now,” he said.
His mother made a difference in his life. Both she and his father wrote children’s songs. That connection continues through inspiration for songs, according to Grammer.
“She still does,” he said. “I write about my mom all the time.”
Grammer said grief is something that isn’t used for inspiration enough with songwriters. It’s an important part of life. With his mother’s passing, he’s channeled it into something positive.
The art of songwriting is a sort of alchemy. It also comes from writing … a lot, according to Grammer. With each album, he writes around 100 songs and then winnows it down to what works.
Songwriting is a dragon Grammer said he’s always chasing. Citing The Beatles’ “Yesterday” as a favorite example, he noted how its lyrics are “so simple but they go so deep.”
“If you’re a pop songwriter, that’s the Holy Grail,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like rocket science.”
“Songwriting is the art of getting that feeling inside into a potion or a box you can give someone else,” he continued. “I don’t think you ever get it, but you keep getting better.”
Grammer said the art of songwriting is to try to figure out what that is. You’ll never reach perfection. He likened it to throwing darts in hopes of hitting the bullseye. In the beginning, he admits he wasn’t hitting the board at all but with the process, he began figuring out where it’s landing.
“I don’t think you ever got it, I think you get better,” he said. “I can’t guarantee a bullseye but I’m pretty confident that I’m getting closer.”
No stranger to Oklahoma, Grammer said his sister-in-law is from just outside the Oklahoma City area. Sillfest is the kickoff to his latest tour and offers him an opportunity to perform for the military.
“There is something uniquely special about large groups of people connecting with one thing and it’s heightened when everyone is singing together,” he said.
One thing Grammer promises is a good time based on music and positivity. He and his bandmates are going to do their part.
“We have a pretty big band, and we all go hard so it’s a pretty big party,” he said. “We hit some people with some aggressive optimism and that’s the hope.”