Groban Attempts to Steer Away From Classical-crossover Label
Cleveland Plain Dealer
February 16, 2007
By John Soeder
Josh Groban gets lumped in with the "classical-crossover" crowd, although he prefers to describe what he does as pop music with a variety of influences. On the heels of his third studio album, "Awake," the 25-year-old crooner also has a new eight-song CD, "With You," available exclusively in Hallmark stores. He checked in by phone last week from New York City.
Cleveland is the second stop on your tour. You'll have all the kinks worked out by the time you get here, right?
First and foremost, it's always about the music. I want the sound to be impeccable.
This show is going to be a lot of fun. It's vibrant, with a lot of lights and a big, beautiful stage. I have a phenomenal band, too.
I'm all for intimate venues, but I have to say, when we started playing arenas . . the energy got to where I wish it had been all along.
How does "Awake" stack up against your previous albums?
The songs I co-wrote are very special to me.
Specifically, a song like Machine' is something I've never done before. I never expected it to have a jazzy feel, which only happened after I invited Herbie Hancock to play on it. He was nice enough to do so.
"Lullaby" was inspired by the children I met in Soweto when I visited South Africa. Dave Matthews and I just kind of wrote it over the phone together. I've been a fan of his for a very long time.
Who else floats your boat?
John Mayer is tremendously talented. Corrine Bailey Rae is great, too. Her voice just does something for me.
Growing up, it was Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Freddie Mercury -- people who weren't afraid to be big with their voices.
I don't find myself listening much to the quote-unquote classical-crossover style, which has become a bit formulaic. If anything, what comes in that vein right now inspires me to move forward, to try new things.
What compels you to sing a song you don't have a hand in writing?
It has to be something that absolutely makes me feel something I can't explain. Sometimes it's a song I needed to hear at a certain time, and in turn I want to be the person to sing it.
Are there any examples on "Awake"?
Sure. One was the first single, "You Are Loved." When I first heard the song, it was at a time when I was pretty down.
The song evokes how it feels when you're depressed and the feeling you get when someone or something helps you see the bigger picture.
We all get that way sometimes.
I was going through a lot in my personal life and in my professional life . . . just those feelings of "What next?" and "What now?"
Not to get too Tiger Beat, but do you have a girlfriend?
No. It just wouldn't be fair, with the schedule I have coming up, but I'm definitely a hopeless romantic. I want to assume the right person is out there. When you've been through a long relationship and it doesn't work out, you feel like you need to take a breath, which is what I'm doing.
How many languages do you speak fluently?
Fluently? Uh, English. And gibberish.
I took Japanese for a very long time, before I was singing. If I'd known I was going to be singing in Spanish and French and Italian, I probably would've spent a lot more time soaking up those languages when I was a sponge.
I would say at least 80 percent of my audience in this country doesn't understand everything I'm singing, yet they feel something from it.
The one thing fans have been asking for is a Christmas album. Every year, I wind up doing a Christmas song. The last one I did ["Believe" from the "Polar Express" soundtrack] was nominated for an Oscar. So it might be time to start thinking about a Christmas album.
I'd love to get a house in France for a year and just program music and write. My goals for the next CDs are focusing on trying to write everything and to produce everything.
I think the best is yet to come.