Metal in His Stride
The Sunday Mail (Australia)
December 7, 2008
By Petra Starke
Popera icon Josh Groban is adamant music's many genres can comfortably co-exist, writes Petra Starke.

Although he doesn't like the term, Josh Groban is prepared to accept the label of "classical crossover" artist - after all, it goes some way to describe his musical mix of pop and opera styles.

But when he got a strange package in the mail recently, even he was surprised to discover just how far "over" he had, in fact, crossed.

"I got a picture in the mail of the Slipknot drummer wearing a Josh Groban T-shirt. I was thrilled," he says excitedly.

"I'm going to wear a Slipknot shirt on stage one day. We can co-exist! That's the wonderful thing about music, we all appreciate everybody."

Given that he duetted with Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan and is working on a new album under uber producer Rick Rubin (the genius behind Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik and AC/DC's Ballbreaker, the idea of a possible collaboration with the hardcore metal band doesn't faze him.

"Well, I love the drums, and they have about six drummers, so I think that would be fun", he says.

It's hard to image the guy best known for the emotional ballad You Raise Me Up teaming with the scary, masked, nu-metal rockers, but Groban says the two genres have more in common than people realize.

"All pop and rock and hip hop are influenced by classical music," he says. "The interesting thing about 'classical crossover' is it basically shed the light on the parts of classical music that have made their way into mainstream music."

No doubt it works both ways. The 27-year-old American is quick to point out that while he's known for his deep "popera" vocals, he's still a young guy with a young guy's musical tastes.

His childhood love of musical theatre and, later, operatic voices such as Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo, soon made way for more modern tastes which eventually helped shape his own genre-straddling style.

"As much as I felt something so miraculous when I listened to (Carreras and Domingo) sign, the other half of me was very much interested in a less-rigid approach, and great pop and rock music," he says.

"I grew up listening to Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox and U2 and Paul Simon."

Before his new album comes out next month, Groban has assembled a collection of his favourites on Josh Groban: A Collection.

Of course, Raise Me Up made the cut. Is he sick of the song that has become his personal anthem?

Groban replies: "Oh you might be sick of it backstage, but when you hear the opening lines and you're looking out at that audience, it never gets old".

Josh Groban: A Collection is out now.