24 May, 2011

National Independence Day Celebration...

It's just been announced that Josh will be part of "A Capitol Fourth" - part of a PBS celebration for Independence Day celebrations on the 4th of July.

Other artists to join Josh on the Capitol’s west lawn include Jimmy Smits (as host), Steve Martin, Matthew Morrison, Jordin Sparks, Little Richard.

The show will be telecast on PBS on Monday, July 4, 2011 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m (check your local guides).

As is tradition, the show will conclude with a stunning pyrotechnics display set to a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" complete with live cannon fire provided by The U.S. Army Presidential Salute Battery.

More information - PBS A Capitol Fourth website.

21 May, 2011

Josh on Extra...

A few weeks ago, Josh recorded an interview with Extra talking about his tour. It's finally been put up on their website. Enjoy!

20 May, 2011

Oprah farwell...

Josh didn't let being on tour stop him from being part of the all-star cast for Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular in front of a crowd of around 13,000 at Chicago’s United Center.

It turns out that after his show in Dallas, Josh flew to Chigaco to be part of this farewell, and then after his performance he flew right back to San Antonio. 

Josh sang 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' and was joined on-stage by Patti LaBelle.

Josh told Access Hollywood that he just wanted to say thank you.

The episodes are scheduled to screen on US stations on May 23/24 (check your local guides).

19 May, 2011

PBS Command Performance...

Josh Groban Command Performance: 10 Years With Public Television to Premiere on Public Television in May and June
— chosen by the artist himself.

If you're based in the US, keep an eye out for this upcoming PBS special highlighting his 10 year partnership with Public Television. Together, they have created some of the network's most successful and dynamic live concert performances that have become staples in Public Television programming. This exciting compilation celebrates that partnership, showcasing the highlights of their exceptional collaborations over the years -- chosen by the artist himself.

Josh Groban Command Performance: 10 Years With Public Television will premiere on Public Television stations nationwide beginning late May 2011 (check local listings), and is distributed nationally by WLIW21 in association with WNET.


Oceano (from Live At The Greek, 2004)
To Where You Are (from In Concert, 2002)
Broken Vow w/ Chris Botti (from Soundstage/An Evening In New York City, 2009)
Mi Morena (Live At The Greek)
Machine w/ Herbie Hancock (Soundstage)
Bridge Over Troubled Water w/ Brian McKnight (from Hitman: David Foster & Friends, 2008)
Vincent (In Concert)
Alla Luce (from Awake Live, 2008)
Anthem (from Chess In Concert, 2008)
Canto (Awake Live)
Lullaby (Soundstage)
You Raise Me Up (Awake Live)

14 May, 2011

Tour Video - Part 8...


1st night review...

And so it starts. Night one at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans is over and the "Straight to You" tour is well underway...

Thanks to Tanya (TG4JG) for some awesome pictures - see her awesome gallery here.

10 May, 2011

Rehearsals - Sneak Peek Part 6...

Check out this awesome time-lapse clip of what happens behind the scenes to create the concert stage for Josh's first stop in New Orleans.

08 May, 2011

It's nearly time...

Josh has arrived in NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana). The tour is getting close!!! Let the excitement begin!

07 May, 2011

Interview from Japan...

Thanks to Yasuko on FoJG...

Q: You were making songs on the piano even when you were very small. How did that happen?
A: I was always drawn to the piano. I couldn't explain it. Even when I could hardly walk, I walked over to a piano and would just bang the keys. Or I would figure our what note it was. If I heard a melody, I would try to lean the melody. Eventually I taught myself to play the piano. Everything I do now on the piano I basically taught myself. It's something I always had an instinct for.

Q: You are basically saying you were Amadeus Mozart? A prodigy? (laughs)
A: Yes, but I haven't written twenty operas yet! (laughs)

Q: So you took up music as a vocation?
A: No. I knew that music was my greatest joy in my life, but I wasn't really thinking of it as a job. It wasn't until I was maybe fourteen that I started to realise that "Oh my gosh, wouldn't it be amazing if I could actually make a living doing what I love, making music?" Then I took up acting. I learnt about musical theater and opera. I kept writing music. I did a lot of things. Eventually it turned into this ten-year journey of what these CDs are, and I can't believe that it actually came true.

Q: You are now established as a classical crossover artist. But American music charts and radios are so genre-oriented. When you first started out, didn't you worry that you might confuse people?
A: I didn't think about it at all, because it was just me. To me, I have a category of one. I was just trying to compete with myself and be the best singer I could be. When people get confused by my music, I just say that I'm just being myself. My favorite artists are the ones I don't categorize. I like them because they are doing something different and unique like Depeche Mode, Annie Lennox, or Pavarotti ... it's true America is obsessed with charts. But it's hard to categorize music now. You've got a rap artist playing with orchestras and an opera singer makes a rock album. Everybody is fascinated with each other's world. There is this feeling of blurring and crossing that is very inspiring to me.

Q: You have an amazing voice. Opera singers and musical singers usually make a cover album, but you sing your own music.
A: I think it's important for me to add personal identity to the songs. It's very challenging to find a great song with with you can connect. Rick Rubin, the producer of my new album, wanted to make songs coming from me, not just being presented by me as a vocalist. I like finding beautiful songs and just singing my heart out. But it's much more rewarding when you can fell that your stories and your life were represented in songs.


Rehearsals - Sneak Peek Part 5...

This time introducing the tour mascot - Sweeney...♥ ♥ ♥

05 May, 2011

Music Reviewer...

From Guardian.co.uk - Josh once again shows off his great comedic style, this time reviewing new single releases in the UK.

Wild Beasts - Albatross (Domino)
This should be played after a long day at work, where you light the fireplace up in your living room, crack open a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and enjoy the song on your lonesome. The half-acoustic/half-electronic feel gives it a really haunting vibe and Hayden Thorpe's voice is beautiful here. My ears always perk up when I hear a unique male voice in the musical sea of homogenous rock singing nowadays and this reminds me of a more focused Antony Hegarty. Three cheers for vibrato! I shall be hunting for more from these beasts.
Blue - I Can (Blueworld UK)
Whoa! Girls (and a few select gentlemen), have you heard the news? Yes, it's true: Blue are BACK. All rise, people! To be honest, I didn't really know they were gone because I live in America but hey – what a comeback, right? Big drums, Usher-makin'-love-in-the-club styled synths. I'm sure I'll be hearing this song a lot while I'm exploring the London nightlife, which, incidentally, is exactly how I met Lee Ryan a few years back. Nice guy. Although I think he owes me a pint.
Plain White T's - Boomerang (Island)
I was stoked to hear a new song from the Plain White T's, even though I was just thinking about how many of them I've been wearing recently. (The tees that is, not the actual band.) Still, this peppy number about the angst of running hot and cold in a relationship has a super-catchy chorus and I especially like how it ends with a wee vintage piano. No doubt, it will be pumping from my iPod while I pay a visit to Topman to buy a collection of printed black tank tops.
Jay Sean ft Lil Wayne - Hit The Lights (Universal-Island)
This is sure to be a club SUPER HIT. Which means the only time I'll hear it is on YouTube. But I'm a sucker for a sly Weezy cameo: I was honoured to stand next to him during last year's Haiti Benefit recording of We Are The World. (Think that sounds odd? Listen to the final mix – it is!) This collaboration with Jay Sean seems a much more solid fit – even though everytime I hear someone say "hit the lights!", I can never tell if they mean on or off. I should find out before I get myself into an awkward social party foul.
Beady Eye - Millionaire (Beady Eye)
From what I understand, Beady Eye is basically Oasis minus Noel. I also understand from listening to this new track that the boys haven't lost their knack for interesting, strummy chord changes. Nor have they waylaid that ability to pen those grand, inspiring ... but ultimately esoteric lyrics. I mean, why stop at loving someone like a millionaire? I look forward to the day, if and when I find love, when I can look her in the eye and say: "Baby, I love you like a kabazillionaire." Oh well, anyhoo – great song
Josh Groban tours the UK in October


Twitter & tea at Virgin Social Marathon...

Another funny clip has surfaced from when Josh joined the team at the Virgin Social Marathon in London back in April.

Access Hollywood...

A couple of videos from Access Hollywood...

About the Tour...

On a return to Glee


Rehearsals - Sneak Peek Part 4...

This time Tariqh Akoni introduces us to the band...

04 May, 2011

A Conversation with Josh Groban...

A great interview from the Huffington Post.

Mike Ragogna: Josh, are you there?

Josh Groban: I am here.

MR: Let's talk about the tour.

JG: Yeah. Finally, after four years, I'm excited to get back on the road. It's the most fun I have in my whole career, getting out there and kind of reworking new and old songs for new audiences every night. It's the perfect chance for my band and I to show the experiences we've had over the last few years, and for us to say thanks to some very patient fans. It's always a blast.

MR: Josh, you've given your tours various titles. The last one was the "Before We Begin Tour," and this tour has a title too, right?

JG: Yeah, this one is the "Straight To You Tour." We did the "Before We Begin Tour" as sort of a "getting our feet wet" experience this last year. We decided to call it "Before We Begin" because, quite literally, most of the shows were before the record came out, and before we started the whole journey of this record. So, we went out and did, basically, a touring boot camp. We played some very small theaters around the country, and my management seems to think I'm a glutton for punishment, so they said, "Hey, go out with no set list, no script, and try to fill 90 minutes. We'll see what you guys play." I had a piano, a guitar, and that's it. Honestly, it was the most fun I've ever had on stage, and I think some of the most fun my fans have ever had with me. We learned a lot from that tour. We learned what it meant to connect with your audience again, and what it meant to really get out there and be vulnerable again. We definitely learned a lot of things that we want to throw into this tour as well.

MR: What do you find the similarities are between the tours?

JG: Well, of course, one of the things that I want to do with the "Straight To You Tour," even though we are playing larger venues, is to keep that intimacy--trying to find a way to project that energy to the back of the house that is the same as when you're playing the smaller venues. That's the goal of me and my band, that's the goal of my design team--the people that are designing the stage--to make sure that everybody in the audience is getting the same experience. The other thing that we learned is that, while there are definitely songs that we can't leave the stage without singing and visuals that we can't wait to show our crowd every night, there are moments that we know, before we go onstage, that are going to happen, and we can't rehearse. I think that's about expecting the unexpected, and the excitement of knowing that we're not just going to be performing at an audience, we're going to be performing with them, and the crowd is going to be dictating, every night, how the show is going to go, which is a really fun feeling to have every night.

MR: Nice. What is the musician setup?

JG: Instrumentally, I've got my band of about five or six guys. This time--and this is kind of a new thing for me--we usually pick up about 20 strings in each city, which is risky. It's fun to kind of have that local flavor, but at the same time, it's sometimes risky because you don't know what you're going to get. This time around, based on the instrumentation of the new record and based on what I think we can accomplish with a "less is more" feel, we're going to bring out our own four string quartet, and then we're going to bring out four horns as well that are rehearsed and know the show backwards and forwards and can take solos. So, I think onstage, there is going to be no such thing as a click track or a pro-tools computer track. This is going to be live, live, live, and I think that's another thing that is going to create a vibrant atmosphere. I think these guys are going to be so well versed in these songs.

MR: Now, you've had a live album before this.

JG: Yeah, I've had a few DVDs and a couple of live albums, and I think that just expresses how much we love doing it.

MR: Which do you prefer? Do you prefer the live shows or do you prefer recording in the studio?

JG: I prefer live, to be honest. I do love being in the studio, I like the idea of kind of going to the office and playing around until you get something that you want on record forever. It's a very exciting and rewarding experience, but the whole reason I got into this business is because I love live performance. That's why I went to school for theater, that's why I started taking voice lessons, and that's why I write music, so I can eventually play them for people. It's all about the connection that you can have in a room with somebody, and that kind of X-factor between them and you. So, it really is my favorite by a long shot.

MR: Beautiful. Josh, I always wanted to ask you, and I didn't ask you the last time we spoke, but how involved do you get with or entrenched are you in the arrangements? Do you get in there and say, "How about this figure or that figure," because you're trained?

JG: Yeah, I love doing that. I love sticking my nose into what I can just to add my ideas to the pot. I never try to overly influence what people in my team do very, very well. I love letting people just do their thing as well. I've got some extraordinary arrangers that I just feel so lucky to have working on my songs. But at the same time, during the rehearsal process, that's what we do, we play around. If any of us has an idea, we share it, and I think by the time the tour starts, all of our ideas have kind of been thrown in there and the arrangements are familiar but give a different kind of experience as well.

MR: Obviously, you've toured a lot, but are you looking forward to some of the places that you're visiting on this tour?

JG: I am. Selfishly, it's a really great, rewarding experience just to drive across your own country. I am so excited to get back on a bus, pack up our circus, and go across the U.S. Sometimes, you hit cities that are old favorites, where you know it's going to be a killer experience every night--like Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York--and then sometimes, you run into places that you say to yourself, "I would never have expected in a million years to ever have visited here if it weren't for the music," and you have an audience that just shows you the love that you've never expected and it blows you away. It's a great combo, and my band and I certainly don't take it for granted for one minute. We have a great time.

MR: Nice. Now, looking at Illuminations this year as opposed to Illuminations last year when it was released, what are your thoughts about it at this point? When you put it together, you probably had a certain perspective. Has your perspective changed on the album now that this much time has gone by?

JG: I think the perspective I have now is that I feel we can add to the songs in a live environment the way Rick Rubin and I had always planned would happen once the tour would start. I think that there were certain things that Rick and I chose not to do on this record, that in the past, have felt very much a part of my world. But we left them out because that's not what this project was and that's not what this record was to us. He always said, though, "Rules change when you go out on the road." I think that the perspective is that, now that we've lived with the songs for a while and we're still just as proud of the record, we feel like we're able to explore more energetic ways to put the songs across. And maybe I can play around a little more with instrumentation that we didn't use on the record, but we can absolutely use on tour. So, I think, basically, the live experience and the listening experience on the CD are going to be entirely different experiences. I'm excited about reworking the songs in a way that may not have worked on the record, but definitely will work better, I think, live.

MR: That was exactly the meaning of the question because you had Rick Rubin in the mix when you recorded the record, resulting in a different feel than your previous albums. It seemed more intimate to me.

JG: The intimacy for the show, I think, is going to represent what I've been doing, both with this record and with these smaller gigs that we did. That said, a listening experience with your headphones or in your car can be a very "silo'd" experience. With the tour, I want to get across to fans that are thinking about coming to the show that we want a total vibrancy and a real open energy and big feeling to these songs. When we've got venues as big as we're lucky enough to be able to play, it's important that we find ways to do that.

MR: Of course, I wasn't implying that this tour is going to be any less energetic...

JG: ...well, it could be, it very well could be. Certainly, when people hear a new record and they say to themselves, "Okay, this is a little bit of a slower or darker record than I'm used to," it's very easy to assume that the tour that came immediately after the record might be the same. I'm glad you brought that up because I'm always trying to reiterate that a tour is about the entire body of work, it's not about one record, and it's not about the mood of one record. Anybody who has been to my shows in the past knows that we do really like to play around up there.

MR: I've asked you this before, but again, do you have any advice for new artists?

JG: The business is changing so rapidly, I would say that the biggest thing that any new artist has is their grass roots connection with any and all new fans. I would say keep your head down, focus on what makes you and your fans happy, and be nice to people.

MR: Nice. Josh, I do appreciate the time and good luck with the tour.

JG: I appreciate you having me. Thank you.

Transcribed by Ryan Gaffney


Q & A...

Here's yet another great interview from Mike Diver and the BBC Music Blog.

Artist: Josh Groban
Album: Illuminations
Recommended by: Loose Ends, Edith Bowman's Album Show

Since releasing his debut album in 2001 (after singing beside the likes of Elton John and Stevie Wonder!), Los Angeles-born singer Josh Groban has gone on to sell over 24 million albums worldwide. Balancing on the fine line between easy listening and pop with occasional classical leanings, his songs have reached a wide variety of audiences. With his latest collection, Illuminations, Groban has set his sights on UK listeners like never before - you might well have caught him guest presenting Never Mind The Buzzcocks in 2010. The album, produced by Rick Rubin, also marks the first time Groban has co-written his own material. Clearly, the man is stepping up a few gears and moving into a new stage of his career. We caught up with him on a recent promo tour, at his London hotel...
- - -

So it seems, from where UK observers are sat, that this record represents something of a push into the British market. Is the idea at the moment to take your huge stateside success and try to plant some of it on this side of the Atlantic? It already feels like this is your most successful record here, though I've not seen any figures...
I'm the same - I've not seen the figures but this does feel like it's my biggest record here so far. And I think, in my head, there's been a concerted effort to reach UK audiences since album one - but it had to happen a certain way in the United States, and certain stars have simply lined up. This time around TV shows, over here, have given me the time of day. There have been a number of things with this campaign which made us think: the spaghetti against the wall approach is actually working, you know? It's sticking this time. So before I'd be saying, "What, one appearance and then we fly back?" That's not how you break an artist. This time, though, I've been able to do several things on each visit. And also, I've made it a priority within my team to do whatever we can. My sleeves are rolled up for this album, so I said: "I'm ready to work." I know I'll get exhausted, and I know I can't be everywhere at once, but I must've been here six or seven times for this album, so I'm really happy to see that the hard work is paying off.
Illuminations seems to have been really well received in the UK, critically. Is that some sort of vindication, after knocking on the door here so many times and getting turned away, at least in terms of reviews?
I think so, yeah. You can't force anyone to accept you, or take you in as their own. In the States it started with the music, and then I had to show people that I was a real boy, a real human being too.
You were rather thrown into the deep end in the States, of course.
Very much so. Everything exploded for me. And I think the luxury of breaking the UK step by step, year by year, peeling away the layers of the onion, has enabled people to see who I am first, and then introduce them to my music second. It's been great to go on shows like ...Buzzcocks, and Graham Norton's show, and be myself. I love that this country has been more open to accepting this image, of a well-rounded person, rather than someone who just does this one thing.
It must have taken you a while to make yourself heard, around and shortly after the first few albums. I imagine everyone was telling you to do this, to sing that... You were only 19 when the debut came out, so it must have been a very dizzying, confusing but exciting time for you.
Yes. First of all, I was terrified. Nothing can prepare you for that sort of pressure, for going from blissful anonymity to the flavour of the whatever... People knew my name, and immediately began to judge me. I can understand why certain people go off the deep end. I was lucky - even in the States, when things were blowing up for me, I was never a hyped artist, or a press darling. I was never made to feel like a God among men in the States; it was always a case of me having a connection with my fans, and everyone else was kind of dismissive. I think, when I look back in hindsight, that kept me really grounded, and feeling like I should keep doing what's real, as the superficial stuff isn't paying me any attention. All I had was the music and the fans, so that kept things going the right way.
By not being everyone's flavour of the month, you seem to have achieved success through being that somebody's flavour instead. It's quite an unusual approach, by today's standards. The National, maybe, are the last band I can think of who've achieved a high level of success very slowly, over here.
Well, I never expect to be the one at a big party who everyone is stopping to turn to look at; but I always have the silent satisfaction that I've usually sold more records than anyone else at the same party. (Laughs) You know, I'm kinda like a silent assassin. I've kept my head down, flown under the radar, and quietly had a really successful career. For me, that's the best of all worlds. I don't have to worry about paparazzi, and I can make albums that I know my fans will want to hear all of - which is today's market is a real blessing. And if people turn their heads, then they turn their heads. There's still a long way to go, but at least some people are listening now. It's an old-school approach, you know. Slippery When Wet was Bon Jovi's third album - nowadays, nobody would have waited that long. For me, to take 10 years to break the UK... are you kidding? I'm lucky, as most people wouldn't even get 15 minutes. In the old days you could grow from album to album, so I feel really lucky to have been able to take my time.
Do you think if you'd exploded into popularity now, but didn't impact on the UK relatively simultaneously, that you'd have the chance to work slowly over here?
Yes, 100%. The business has changed so much since I started - albeit through no fault of the people who work at my label. It's just a bottom line thing, and everyone's working with a gun to their head. And that isn't conducive to real creative growth. There's a lot of pressure. I'd go so far to say that even if I'd had a hit single on the first album, if the album itself didn't perform to the standards expected today, I'd never get the chance to do a second one. But again, I've been very lucky to have so much support from my fans. I've seen at least two or three regime changes at the label, so to still be around is quite something.
When making this album, did you think that there'd be people picking it apart, only downloading certain tracks?
Well, this is where having the real, diligent focus of Rick Rubin was very helpful. I think he is an amazing grounding force to some amazing personalities that he works with. I needed someone to focus me - I was getting a little scattered by the business and was starting to freak out a little bit. I'd just done a Christmas record (2007's Noël) which I didn't think would do anything, but that was exploding. So, creatively, after that, where could I go? I was a bit confused. But I managed to relax, and realised that I didn't need to make an album out of pressure, or out of fear. When I first started talking to Rick, it seemed so odd on paper - but what we shared was actually genre. Even in his old interviews, when asked about hip hop and heavy metal, he didn't get into those worlds to be an impresario; he sees genres that he thinks he can somehow change for the better. So he came to this genre, and saw things he liked and other things he did not. So he was excited about taking a risk in working with me, and I was excited to have him in my ear. So I think having him, instead of several producers on one record, just eagle-eyeing it to make sure we stayed at a consistent level, was really helpful.
You look at the gap between albums on paper and it seems a long time - your last studio LP proper came out in 2006. Did Illuminations take longer than any other album in your career to come together?
Well, I toured a lot. If you don't do your homework, which I should have done, then you're on tour for a long time, and you come off without having written anything new. Now that I am writing a lot more, that's changed - I write everywhere, whether I'm touring or not. Rick and I had a prolonged getting-to-know-you period. We both wanted it to happen, but didn't want to force anything. Early on, we were not pleased with what was coming out of the speakers. His programmers and engineers are among the best in the business, but they're not able to make you sound that good if you weren't already. They will use their expertise to make the cleanest sound, but you have to sound good on top of that. I think there are a lot of proactive producers who get off on taking something rough and moulding it to their style, putting too much of themselves into it in the process, but Rick is all about the artist earning their face on the front of the record. So we went into a dry room, and if we weren't comfortable that day you could hear it on the track. So we rehearsed lots, and really worked on the arrangements - when, when we came to record, it was like a performance at Carnegie Hall. We'd made ourselves ready in the right way.
Did you feel that the best-of, 2008's The Collection, was a good way of effectively closing the first chapter of your career, now that you're writing your own material and working in a different way?
Definitely. My best-of thing here was a bit different to a lot of peoples' best-ofs - to them, such a release comes after they've peaked, but for me it was a way of introducing myself. But it was also a way to say goodbye to a part of my musical career - these are songs that I am proud of, and that will always be a part of what I do, but now it's time to move on and do something different. So it did feel like a changing of chapters of sorts.
Did Rick introduce you to much new music?
Oh yeah. Many of our early meetings were just listening sessions. We'd sit down at his house by the water, with this great speaker system, and go through tonnes of songs, mining them for ideas as well as simply listening for pleasure. We went through so many songs, through world music and rock... When we came across Straight to You, the Nick Cave song, we thought: "Wow, what a lyric, what a message... What a darkly dramatic opus". He suggested we do this arrangement of it, and I wasn't sure. With a cover song, you have to stay clear of just stylising it in a certain way, to tick a box. Rick was confident I could make it my own - he told me to not listen to Cave's version at all, once the decision was made, and instead just focus on the words and how I could interpret them. When we got together with James Newton Howard, to arrange it at Capitol Records, we had this demo but I was still terrified to perform it in front of everyone. What would the musicians think? But when we finished the first take, everyone tapped their instruments to say, there's something special here. That was the first song we recorded, and we always knew it would finish the album. And it was great to get a message from Nick Cave, via Rick, that he liked it.
Finally, what are your favourite albums of the year so far? Since Illuminations came out last year, I'll let any 2010 releases stand...
Oh man... Well, I listened to the new Adele record last night, and it's beautiful. Rick worked on that at the same time he was working on my album, so it was fun to hear how they each shaped up. She's also done a lot of writing with Dan Wilson, who I worked with a lot on Illuminations. I loved The National's album of last year, and was thrilled that Arcade Fire did so well at the Grammy Awards. It's a wonderful thing to see a band do things the right way, to come from grassroots to the radio, to worldwide success. It's a little like what Muse have achieved in the States. There's a lot of good stuff out there right now... Lykke Li I just listened to, as we were in Dublin at the same time. I think she's on the verge of really breaking big. I loved the last Neil Young record, Le Noise, too.

03 May, 2011

Another great interview...

Josh Groban has sold 24 million records, dueted with Andrea Bocelli, and packed concert halls across the globe. Not bad for someone who did not set out to become a singer.

Groban launches his “Straight to You” tour of the U.S. and Canada on May 12 in New Orleans. It is his first full-scale outing since his sold-out 81-city “Awake” tour in 2007.

This summer is shaping up to be a busy time for the 30-year-old southern California native, who will make his feature film debut July 29 in the comedy “Stupid, Crazy, Love” with Emma Stone and Steve Carell.

Prior to tour rehearsals, Groban spent part of a fine spring afternoon talking about touring, acting and his critically acclaimed, best-selling album “Illuminations.”

A 61-date North American tour has to be daunting. What do you do to keep your voice in shape?

I do a number of things to make sure my mind and body are ready to go through that. I do travel with a voice coach because it is easy to fall into traps. It’s great to have someone that is really listening to you outside of yourself. That’s a necessity for me, just to make sure someone is out there looking after me. Other than that, it is setting up a show so that you are singing songs in the right order that really kind of warm you up as you go. I think the other dirty little secret is that when I am on tour it’s actually a luxury not to have to worry about doing anything else in my life, except for worrying about those two hours every night. My voice is actually more tired when I am off the road and my phone is going constantly and I am in meeting after meeting. I may have to sing one song on a talk show, but that one song feels like so much more work than 15 do on a night when I have had nine hours of sleep and I am rehearsed and ready and inviting people into my world every night. It goes by very, very quickly. As long as I eat right and don’t burn the candle at both ends, my voice is pretty strong.

You will soon be making your feature film debut in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” with Steve Carell and Emma Stone. What was that like?

It’s a small role in a very, very big film and I am very excited for the chance to be in that. I started in theater. I started in comedy and so to be able to work with such extraordinary actors and to be able to find myself in an environment that was not totally familiar to me after being in a (recording) studio all year and then to be on a movie set was really, really fun. Emma Stone was so great to work with. She was so nice. It’s a fun thing when something extracurricular comes your way. It’s something I’d like to do more of in the future.

What is your role in the film?

I play Emma Stone’s fiancé. I am a jerk, kind of caddish kind of lawyer, who tells bad jokes at the dinner parties and embarrasses her in front of her friends. I will leave it at that. Very funny things happen. It was great. I nailed it on one audition, which really made me happy at first, then I realized what the part was and it was like “Oh God, that’s not really the kind of person you want to nail.” (chuckles)

So acting was your first love?

It was… I went to Carnegie Mellon for musical theater before I got signed. The singing was something I was kind of doing on the side to be a better actor – and it turned out I was way better at singing.

For your latest album, “Illuminations,” you teamed with producer Rick Rubin of Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers fame. How did that come about?

We were introduced by a mutual friend, a great guy named Guy Oseary, who is Madonna’s manager and creator of Maverick Records. Guy and I have dinner every now and then. He asked if I ever met Rick, and I said no. I am a huge fan of his work and he’s one the only guys in the industry I haven’t met because he is a hard guy to meet because you don’t see him at things. He doesn’t show up at the awards show for his own Grammy. It happened very naturally. We had lunch and had such a great talk about music and what we were working on and what we wanted to do in the future. I quickly realized that any kind of fears I had about his mythology were for all the right reasons as far as how successful he’s been, but for all the wrong reasons for the kind of guy I thought I would be meeting based on the kind of music he made. He has single handedly shifted rock and hip hop and I thought, “Oh God, is he going to get my world? Is he going to be hard edge to talk to?” He just couldn’t have been nicer. He was so open-minded about my music and all types of music. I realized right away we had the potential to have a really amazing musical friendship. We became very good friends at first. Once he started listening to songs I was writing he started giving me some great notes on them. Those notes turned into us saying “Why don’t we just do this together?”

“Illuminations” has a very clean sound.

That’s one of things I was excited about working with Rick on. My kind of music is big on its own. My singing is fairly large and the orchestrations and arrangements – just the content of the songs – are all pretty grand. And yet, it seems to be a genre that producers want to throw as much on top of that as possible. Rick and I both didn’t think we needed it. People can call it intimate or they can call it a quieter record if they want, but we didn’t think it was all that quiet at all. We wanted it to sound like what it sounded like. We wanted the mikes to be just turned on. We wanted to be in there playing music. I like that Rick had the bravery to make a record like that with me.

Do you think that particular sound will transfer to a live setting much better?

I think it definitely gives us, me and my band, the inspiration to take the new songs live. In some ways, we are going to shape them and shift them a little differently live. I think we can add things that Rick has always said, “Just because there is a continuity to what a record is, doesn’t mean you can’t completely rework them for a tour.” Sometimes we are going to that and sometimes we are going to take from that intimate feel and create a more intimate vibe with them on stage. Yeah, whenever you record like that live in such a live atmosphere it just makes the bringing-that-out-before-an-audience part so much more fun.

Is this a recording sound you want to continue making?

Any time you do one thing for a couple of years, you get the itch to try new things. It’s a combination of certain things that I can’t wait to do again, but that I have been spoiled with on this record – just the way recorded and the integrity in which we got in there with the musicians. But, at the same time, I don’t want to make this record again because I just made it. There are a number of things I am definitely going to want to put back into my melting pot for the next record. Whether that means it’s a project for Rick and I or whether it means we will part ways, we really haven’t decided. We’re kind of enjoying what we’ve done now. The fun that we have with these songs on the road is going to tell us a lot about where we go for the next record.

Recording, touring, acting. What do you do in your down time?

Today was a great day off. I woke up in New York. It was 60 degrees… I just walked in the park with my dog. I hit a taco truck and kind of people watched and enjoyed breathing for a minute. I just came off a grueling European promo tour and your life is not your own sometimes when you are being dragged around like that. It’s very rewarding, it’s very fun and I love the work, but there is something about going back doing real simple things like going out to a movie or having a drink with friends.


Rehearsals - Sneak Peek Part 3...

I'm so happy to see that Josh is doing something on the drums for the tour...

02 May, 2011

Crazy Stupid Love Release Dates...

USA  --  29 July 2011
Germany  --  11 August 2011
Norway  --  12 August 2011
Italy  --  19 August 2011
Australia  --  25 August 2011
UK  --  2 September 2011
Greece  --  22 September 2011
Sweden  --  23 September 2011
Finland  --  30 September 2011

01 May, 2011

Josh the Magician...

JOSH GROBAN, 30, may have sold more than 24 million records worldwide but who knew the Californian was also a skilled magician?

As a kid I found myself fascinated by escape artists, especially Harry Houdini. I got obsessed with reading books about him and wanted to emulate him. I asked my parents for a pair of handcuffs but I couldn’t wriggle out of them so escapology clearly wasn’t for me.

Then I found that just down the street from my childhood home in Los Angeles was a store called Hollywood Magic and that was like nirvana to me.

After visiting it I became this 11-year-old boy obsessed with grand illusions. I remember thinking how cool it would be to turn a girl into a tiger, which wasn’t at all realistic and I wound up taking after-school magic classes.

We learned sleight of hand so we could perform card tricks and make coins disappear and since I’m extremely double-jointed, I was very good at it.

My obsession became so feverish that when I was 12 I auditioned to be a junior member of The Magic Castle, which is headquarters to the prestigious Academy of Magical Arts.

It’s this big old house in the Hollywood hills that has been completely tricked out with hidden doorways and secret passages. You have to say a password before they even let you in and you have to take an oath pledging that you’ll never give away any of the secrets.

It’s such a cool place; I’d been there for a friend’s birthday party and thought: “It’d be the greatest thing ever to be a member.”

One day I just decided to go for it but I’d been so busy with schoolwork that I hadn’t had time to practice properly and during the audition I dropped the coin I was meant to make disappear.

In all my years as a performer that’s the only time I’ve truly ended up with egg on my face and I was devastated. It didn’t stop me practising magic but I realised it was something I should do for friends and family rather than as a professional.

I was a shy kid at school and a bit socially awkward so I never got into any cliques but I found the other kids thought it was cool when I did magic. I also found I was good at what they call street magic, which is where you do things like getting someone to choose a number and then you guess it. I can’t tell you how that’s done because I still keep the oath, just in case The Magic Castle change their mind and ask me to re-audition.

I bought videos and books at Hollywood Magic and would practise constantly.

One of the tricks I loved was the “sewing needle through the arm” illusion, which is self-explanatory and can be achieved through the use of fake blood, much to the shock and awe of your audience. It always went down well at the shows I and my younger brother Chris, whom I recruited as my assistant, would put on for the family at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Many of the tricks I learned as a kid I still do at dinner tables and parties. I love the salt shaker through the table stunt, which is where you cover a salt shaker with a napkin, slam it on a table and it disappears. That gets them going “ooh” and “aah”.

I also got to meet David Blaine, one of my heroes. I was at a party where he appeared to eat an entire water glass in front of my eyes; he bit off pieces of glass and chewed until they were like sand in his mouth and then he swallowed the grains.

I’m not sure if that was a trick or if he actually ate that glass but it was really impressive. I haven’t tried to do it myself.

I’ve also got a signed photo of David Copperfield, who came along to one of the magic classes I took as a youngster. He had us all learn a trick and the one who performed it best got a signed picture. I’m proud to say that was me, even though I can’t for the life of me remember what the trick was.

All these years later I’m still learning new stuff. The one thing I’d love to master is levitating.

There are people who are so masterful they trick your eye into thinking they’re raising someone off the ground and whenever I see it I think: “How do they do that?” I kind of like that. Although I practise magic, I’d never want to get to the point where I know how everything is done because I still want to be wowed.

Josh Groban’s album, Illuminations, is out now.

Article by Simon Button from Express.co.uk - Original Source