28 October, 2011

Success never comes easy...

From the Oman Tribune...
At 30 singer-songwriter Josh Groban has managed to retain a humble demeanour and a laidback, down-to-earth personality despite the kind of success that most singers can only dream of, writes Cindy Pearlman

NOW and then, as his tour bus roars along a deserted highway in the middle of the night, Josh Groban mulls over the blur of his life. As the miles rush by, he tries to wrap his mind around how he got to where he is, how he became a pop star with four multiplatinum records and a promising acting career to boot.

“It has been a fast and furious climb,” Groban says, speaking by telephone from a stop on his Straight to You tour. “I was signed at age 17. Then I was thrown into huge environments where it was either sink or swim. I’m a good swimmer and I continued to swim in the deep end – and then the first album came out. Suddenly there was this explosion of fans.”

He still had to contend with moments of self-doubt which were hard to handle amid his burgeoning career.

“It felt like I had to live up to all of these things that literally exploded all around me,” Groban recalls with a bemused laugh. “I had to grow into my puppy paws as an artist.”

That was more than a decade ago, though. At 30 the singer/songwriter has managed to retain a humble demeanor and a laid-back, down-to-earth personality despite the kind of success that most singers can only dream of. In 2007 he was the top-selling artist in the United States, and he has sold more than 24 million CDs worldwide.

You’d think that he’d be beating off the women with a stick, but Groban – who at one point was linked to actress January Jones – reports that he’s single and not happy about it.

“No, I’m not dating anyone,” he says. “That’s what sucks about being on the road. There’s not enough time for film roles and not enough time to meet people.”

Well, not to meet women, perhaps. He did meet the legendary crooner Tony Bennett, with whom he duets on This Is All I Ask on Bennett’s hit album Duets II.

“Without a doubt it was one of the greatest honors of my career,” Groban says. “Make that my entire life. Tony is someone I’ve always looked up to because of what he has done for one of my favorite styles of music.”

He found the 85-year-old Bennett’s work ethic inspiring.

“At 8 in the morning, Tony showed up for sound check looking impeccable in an amazing suit,” Groban recalls, still seeming in awe. ``He sang full-out at that hour in the morning. I saw such a fire in him.

“The real greats maintain such a humility for their craft,” the young singer says, “and they never lose their desire to strive for greatness. It was also just plain fun to stand on the sidelines and watch Tony warm up.

“The cool thing is that he likes to record without headphones,” Groban adds. “We just stood there as two guys with two mikes. It was so old school and a great master-class way to do it. We had such a wonderful day in the studio.”

Lately, however, Groban has been finding his way into film and television studios as well as recording studios. He played an obnoxious lawyer in Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), and recently did a guest stint on The Office as Walter Jr., brother of Andy (Ed Helms).

“I have been a big fan of the show, ever since it was an English show,” he says. “When The Office came to America, I watched it and thought they did a brilliant job of making it their own. I became hooked and watched every episode.

“The deal is that Andy, played by Ed Helms, is the firstborn in his family,” Groban continues. “That’s usually the favorite son. I’m the second-born, and my name is Walter Jr. after our father. Somehow I stole the name from him, and I’m more happy-go-lucky and successful than Andy. I can do no wrong in our parents’ eyes.”

He was a bit nervous stepping into the well-established ensemble cast of The Office, the singer admits.

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