04 June, 2011

Old School Approach...

From Melissa Ruggieri of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Some only know Josh Groban as the poster boy for PBS. An impeccably rumpled, golden-throated singer who gives off the vibe of being approachably intelligent.

That’s why older folks love him.

Then there is the other side of Groban – the self-effacing, wicked sharp jokester who is quick to parody himself in a video on the comedy website FunnyOrDie.com or go on Jimmy Kimmel’s show to sing Kanye West’s nonsensical tweets.

That’s why smitten teenage girls love him, too.

Groban, who recently turned 30, has sold more than 20 million albums in a decade, his soaring balladry as effective on a tearjerker such as “You Raise Me Up” as it is on the current “Bells of New York City," his love letter to his new home.

In mid-May, the Los Angeles native embarked on his fourth career tour, dubbed “Straight to You,” to support his latest release, “Illuminations.”

The show plays the Gwinnett Center Arena June 8. It is both theatrical and intimate, says Groban, allowing him time to banter with the crowd between songs and respond to questions sent via text before and during the show (instructions will be given at the venue).

“It’s so old-school, but it works,” he said.

Last week, during a break from the tour, Groban called from New York to discuss the show, his Broadway aspirations and his role as the jerky fiancĂ© to Emma Stone’s character in the upcoming Steve Carell/Julianne Moore film, “Crazy, Stupid Love.”

Q. You really work hard to interact with your fans, whether on your website or taking text questions during concerts. Because of the nature of your music, do you think you have to extend yourself more to show people the goofy side of your personality?

A. Maybe a little, but there’s nothing I have to overdo to get the point across. I just have to be myself. Oftentimes people see you as super-serious and they base you on how serious your song is. If I can be that other half of me onstage, I don’t have to try very hard to get that point across.

Q. How do you think you’ve grown as a performer? Do you get nervous before shows?

A. I get nervous about the unknowns, what is out of my control. I used to get nervous about things totally in my control, but now, singing, playing piano, enjoying myself aren’t things I get nervous about. Five minutes before show time, my wheels are spinning. I can’t wait to get out there and blast off. But sometimes you have to say to yourself, ‘I hope this is all going to work.’

Q. You’re going to be on the road most of the year with this tour. How do you stay sane?

A. I love it! I get crazy when I’m off the road, when I’m sliding around the apartment in my socks. I thrive on routine. I think it’s great to drive across the country and feel like you’re really reaching people. It never gets boring. The performer side of me says, this audience wasn’t there last night, so you’ve got to give it to them good again.

Q. And how is your dog Sweeney handling the road?

A. He loves it. He feels the same as I do about the crowd. I’d much rather have him with me if I can. He loves running around the venues.

Q. You’re traveling by bus, right?

A. Yeah, it’s great. After a show you can get on there and have a beer and watch ‘Spinal Tap.’

Q. Tell me about your role in “Crazy, Stupid Love.” How do you think you fared as an actor?

A. It’s my first big movie, so I was honored to be in it at all. But I auditioned for it fair and square. They knew my background was improv, so to go in and try to be someone else is so fun. I missed acting so much. It was a dream of mine to do Broadway at some point.

Q. Is Broadway still a possibility?

A. It’s one of the things that originally drew me to New York, the idea that one day, being so close to it, it might happen. I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know the Broadway community. It’s been really fun dipping my feet into that water.

Q. Any particular show you’re dying to do?

A. Well, I’m a big [Steven] Sondheim fan. And I guess now, [laughs] everyone wishes they were in ‘The Book of Mormon.’


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