Video: Steve Grand talks debut album and Boystown
Fri. March 20, 2015 7:10 AM by GoPride.com News Staff
The video interview details his dabble into pop and rock, being labeled the ‘gay country singer,’ and more. (Video posted below)
The All American Boy singer will release his debut album of the same name on Monday, March 23. On Sunday, however, Grand will sit down for a life broadcast of the Out Chicago radio show, hosted by Scott Duff, sponsored by ChicagoPride.com and airing on WCPT AM 820 at 11 a.m. The show will also stream live at chicagosprogressivetalk.com. (Event details)
From his time working at Minibar to his new sound on the album, Grand breaks down All American Boy, the funniest thing he had to do for his Kickstarter backers and the one question he refuses to answer.
How are you holding up just days before the big album debut?
I'm doing great. I was just thinking this morning that this is the last week of my life that I will be albumless, which is crazy to think about because I've been really looking forward to this moment since I was a real little kid. Since I was at least 11, 12 or 13 -- somewhere in there I made up my mind that I was going to be an artist, a rockstar, and that I was going to change the world with my music. So it's amazing that it's only a week away now.
What's it like being an out, gay country singer?
(In the introduction of the video) you did call me a gay country singer which is understandable because that's the way I've been branded. I just have to say that I do not consider myself part of that national (country) community. Although my music is certainly inspired by country, I think partly because I went to school in Nashville for a year, I don't necessarily consider myself a country artist and part of the Nashville scene.... especially when my fans hear the record and all the different influences on it.
I was going to mention that. Your song "We Are the Night" had some rock-synth influences that aren't country at all, so are you pulling a Taylor Swift on us?
(Laughs) I can see why people would say that, and certainly what I've done and what I'm doing now, it seems to follow that pattern. It's just a coincidence that really all the songs that I've released so far -- All American Boy, Stay, Back to California and Whiskey Crime -- those are probably the most country-sounding songs on the whole record. ... So this album really covers a range of genres and different influences, which I think is very appropriate for the type of artist I am and the kind of fans I have.
You're consistently labeled as a gay singer. How do you feel about taking on that visibility and responsibility?
It certainly is always brought up when I do interviews, and I'm fine with that. It's part of the story. But I would say it maybe feels annoying sometimes, but then all I think about are the kids in this country and around the world that still don't feel like they're being represented or can listen to the radio and really connect. If I'm, even in some small way, giving a voice to some of these young people and even older people... it's powerful for those people who feel like I'm giving them a voice.
What was your inspiration for the album All American Boy?
I named it All American Boy, not just because the song All American Boy, but because when I was growing up, my dad would always pat me and my older brother on the head and brag to neighbors and friends, "These are my all-American boys. They're in Boy Scouts, they get good grades, they play sports, they build treehouses. They're just your typical all-American boys." That was an identity that he put on us, and that was something to be proud of. When I realized I was gay, it occurred to me that I no longer fit into what it typically meant to be an all-American boy. So me, naming my record All American Boy is kind of symbolic of me taking back an identity that I felt was kept from me because I was a gay person.
(ChicagoPride.com review of Steve Grand's All American Boy)
Kickstarter has been a huge part of your career so far. You had a goal of $81K and reached more than $325K, making it the third most-funded music project in the website's history. What did that feel like?
I'm still pinching myself. It's so humbling and so affirming that what I did and what I represent to people affected them in such a deep way that they were willing to get out their wallets to support what I'm doing. That's really something that's kept me going throughout this last year. Every time I think, "This is so hard," or when I had a split-second moment of, "Is this even worth it?" all I have to do is look back on the almost 5,000 people who contributed. That many people believe in what I'm doing that much. If they believe in me, there should be no doubt that I'm doing something that's meaningful to people.
On Facebook and Instagram you have photos of all the records you've been mailing out to backers. What else have you done for those Kickstarter supporters?
There are a lot of rewards. You can still go on the Kickstarter page and look at them. ...One of them, though, is the most interesting because it's taken the most time and effort but was the cheapest. For $25, the backer sends in a picture of himself or herself, and I draw it with smelly markers. (Laughs) That really takes a while! When I was thinking of doing it, it was a way to connect with fans that was humorous and light. But then it occurred to me that people might not understand my sense of humor, and maybe I'll draw them in a way that offends them. (Laughs) So I've really put a lot of times into these drawings, and there's almost 200 of them. I've gotten better at drawing, for sure.
Please tell me you're not using black licorice-scented markers.
(Laughs) Yeah, those are bad. For the black, I do use Sharpies. ...I start with pencil sketches and go over it with black Sharpie, and then I color it in. And I make the faces all orange because you're dealing with limited colors, and I hope that's the one color that's not offensive to any race. (Laughs)
You're from the Chicago area and are very familiar with Boystown. What's it like coming back?
On my 21st birthday I had a surprise birthday party, and I went to Minibar that night, and then I ended up working there two months later. I worked every weekend for a whole year. So I really started working in Boystown before I started having fun in Boystown, so it felt like I couldn't really enjoy it. When you work in the industry, you get over the nightlife a little faster than others. ...But I made a lot of friends during that time, and it's a part of my life that I look back on, smile at, and shake my head. I learned a lot, and I made a lot of great memories.
What can we expect on Sunday at DS Tequila?
We're still planning it. I know we're doing some games, but I don't want to ruin anything. It will be a good time with games and giveaways.
Anything else you want to talk about?
I have a music video for my song Time that should be out in the next couple weeks. ...Whenever you have a video for something people are always more excited because of that visual element. It adds another dimension of meaning.
I think that's what happened with All American Boy. The video was the catalyst for it to shoot off.
Totally. The video and the song together, because the song sounds very familiar and typical, and the dichotomy of talking about things that are all-American while sonically sounding all-American, and then you have all the visuals of friends by a campfire, whiskey drinking, the American flag, the old car, skinny-dipping in a pond -- those things are seen as all-American. Using those devices to tell a story of unrequited love between two men makes for a really compelling piece of work.
Speaking of skinny-dipping on a pond, are you dating anyone?
That's the one thing that's off limits. I'm fine with people speculating, but I feel like I give so much of myself, so that's the one thing I like to keep for myself.
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