The Tao of Groban
January 4, 2013
By Simon Gage
Multi-platinum international superstar Josh Groban shares his secrets of success with The Positive
Josh Groban is not who you think he’s going to be. Famous for uplifting vocals on uplifting anthems — such as ‘You Raise Me Up‘ — the Los Angeles native is often smartly dressed, as he strides across the world’s stages, sometimes accompanied by duet partners along the lines of Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand. Beyoncé even.
Here in his Soho Hotel suite, he looks younger, scruffier and much less grand in his glasses, sporting jeans, sneakers and a sweatshirt. He could be mistaken for an arts student rather than the bestselling classical artist of the century — a man with multiple platinum albums and 25 million record sales under his belt.
Groban’s latest album All That Echoes (set for release in February 2013) doesn’t sound very happy considering his past hits about the impossibility of love. It’s beautiful but perhaps with a darkness to it. Mention of this elicits good-natured protestation from the 31-year-old musical artist.
“Oh, gosh!” he laughs, before going through the album tracks one at a time to prove that he’s actually in rather a good place right now. “’I Believe When I Fall in Love’ is a pretty happy song,” he says of the Stevie Wonder classic with which he’s chosen to close the album. “There’s darkness in there but the final message is that after all the baggage and all the trials and tribulations, when love comes my way again I’m not going to let that go.”
As far as Groban’s own love life goes, it’s a message he might well be taking on board for real. He was in a long-term relationship with Mad Men starlet January Jones and has just come out of a subsequent relationship, but is fairly upbeat about both. He is still firm friends with Jones and claims never to hold grudges. “Life’s too short,” he says cheerily. “I love my life and I travel a lot… and there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun too.”
Don’t read anything into that “a little fun” thing. Groban is not one to milk his superstar status and turn it to his advantage — not in any way.
In 2007, he had an unexpectedly massive hit album on his hands with his Christmas collection, which went on to make him the bestselling artist of the year in the United States. His reaction to this, he says, was guilt over the fact that he’d made the album so quickly just to give his fans something, and that it had “steamrollered” everything else released. He reckons he ended up giving most of the money to his charities, just to ease his conscience. “I was very grateful,” he says, “but I didn’t feel good.”
The mixture of light and dark that he likes in the Stevie Wonder song actually infuses much of the rest of the album. “’Happy in My Heartache’ on the surface maybe is about sadness,” he admits, “but it’s really about having the courage to leave something so that you can actually be a happier person. ‘False Alarms’ is the Zen of being open to waiting for the right thing. So, I think actually every song in there has a positive meaning.”
Groban recognises that he has been pretty lucky in his life. Having attended a public performing arts school in LA, he started out acting before moving into singing. While still at school, he was talent-spotted by his vocal coach who sent his tape to super-producer David Foster. This resulted in Groban standing in for Andrea Bocelli to sing a duet with Celine Dion at the Grammy Awards. And that’s a fairly steep ‘star-is-born’ curve.
Now based in New York, he lives a fairly straightforward life for a global superstar. His joys are uncomplicated. He loves his local parks and the feeling that one can just buy an ice-cream and enjoy the scenery, he explains.
“I love the idea that it’s so simple,” Groban says, concluding, “It’s like the 1800s. You just sit by a pond and recharge your soul.”
Josh Groban’s new album All That Echoes is set to be released on 25 February 2013.