Groban Happy Under the Radar Despite Multi-Platinum Success
June 2, 2004
By Nekesa Mumbi Moody
Josh Groban's latest album has outsold the likes of Britney Spears, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, and dates on his spring tour sold out in a couple of hours.
But the 23-year-old Groban is still flying under pop music's radar. Perhaps that's because his music, despite it's popularity, isn't really pop, but is defined as classical crossover. His booming voice has an operatic flair, and the orchestrated musical arrangements jibe more with Andrea Bocelli than Usher.
Yet while he may not be a household name, he certainly has had mainstream success. "Closer," his second album, has sold about 3.5 million copies since its November release. His self-titled debut disc, released in 2001, sold more than 2 million copies.
The Los Angeles native heads back on the road this summer.
AP: You've had a bit of a break before the summer tour. What were you eager to do when you got off the road?
Groban: I was really just more excited to get to my place and sleep in my own bed. You're sleeping in so many different hotel rooms, and you're on the bus all the time, and it's fun, and you get used to it, but it's a little bit of a bubble and it's nice to come home and have your own food and sleep in your own bed. It's simple things.
AP: You don't get the attention that a lot of other multi-platinum artists get. Is that annoying?
Groban: (Laughs) I think, sure, it's frustrating. It's kind of like the feeling of being welcomed into the club. On the one hand I really don't mind it, because I'm a bit of a hermit anyway, so it makes me perfectly happy to do what I want to do, and be successful at it. Within the music business, I've felt a great deal of acceptance. I may not be on the cover of "Us Weekly" ... but I don't feel the need to photographed on the beach somewhere playing with the dog. I don't feel the need to be part of that circus. So far I haven't done anything to tip off the media. But we'll see, maybe I'll have a scandal.
AP: Because of the music you sing, people get the impression that there are a lot of blue-haired ladies at your concerts. How true is that?
Groban: It's not just older people at all. I think in fact sometimes when we have some older people in the audience, they wind up feeling kind of very uncomfortable and in the minority. It's been interesting when I've done live shows to see kind of the clash of cultures in the audience. Some people want to jump and scream and go crazy, and some people really want to sit and keep the gloves on and clap politely.
AP: How do you pass the days in the tour bus?
Groban: It's a really nice bus. I've got my own little bedroom in the back, and a big-screen TV and a bed, and all that, so it's easy for me to either sleep, because I'm always exhausted, or play video games or read a book. It's actually really, really nice. I had the option of getting a private jet for the summer tour but I decided to keep the bus. There's something about the drive, I think. Maybe I'm crazy.
AP: What are some tricks you use to get the crowd into your show?
Groban: I just think certain songs work better than others. I love talking to the audience too. I think it's important that you don't put up that fourth wall, and you kind of relax them, because I think a lot of people coming to my kind of show don't really know whether it's going to be relaxed or it's going to be kind of tense. So it's important to right off the bat let them know it's to have a good time. But when it comes down to it, it's about the singing, and I have to just sing my (butt) off.