Steve Grand has always operated his career on his own terms. Whether it was his musical choices or his honest views on gay culture and sobriety, Grand never leaves his fans wondering where he stands. As he releases his newest and very personal single “Disciple” (off of the album Not The End Of Me) I sat down to talk with Grand about his new music. The artist that Grand is becoming is evolved, interested in keeping his sound fresh, and constantly giving the fans exactly what they have come to expect from his material; raw talent and unflinching honesty.
Michael Cook: “Disciple” is out and it’s a bit of a departure for you, the song is a true “event” in the best sense of the word. How do you descibe it?
Steve Grand: I wanted the video to not just convey a lot of what the song is about, but to really expound on it as well. I really wanted to explore the duality of light and dark that I think is something that lives in all of us. The idea of having an internal conflict represented by a real physical fight with yourself, that is kind of what I was going for.
MC: Your voice definitely seems much grittier and it seems that there is so much more behind the words that you are actually singing. Do you think that is a fair assessment?
SG: I have really been working on it definitely. I am always working on my voice, especially lately now that I have the album out, I am really just trying to hone my live shows, to be a better singer and a better guitarist and pianist. It can be hard to wear all of the different hats. You have to get into a certain frame of mind in order to write songs and record them, and playing live is really a totally different thing. I am really trying to just master the live show.
MC: Not The End Of Me is a completely glorious album. There is so much to the content and so many different layers. How would you describe the album from your perspective?
SG: I will say this, it is deeply personal and it is a snapshot of my life over a couple of years when I was writing it. I wanted something to really honestly represent where I was at that time. It’s everything from what I was interested in musically, sonically, and lyrically to what was going on in my life personally. It really is a picture of me and and an honest picture of where I was in that point and time. I wrote every single song on the album and I played most of the instruments and I did most of the production myself and recorded it mostly right in my house. I even did the album artwork; so I am definitely very proud that I was able to do all of those things and bring it all together.
MC: The single “Pink Champagne” I feel, is a personal highlight to the album. It’s one of those great summer style anthems that we all love.
SG: Thank you so much! You know, they are all very special to me, but “Pink Champagne” in particular, really is. I actually just released the video for that one also.
MC: Much of what you are doing now is very introspective and it’s coming from what seems like a newfound kind of voice. Where do you think that is coming from?
SG: You know, I really try to write about things that I experience, so it all really comes from my life in general.
MC: Change is something that is constant for you as well. From living a sober life to having a summer residency in Provincetown at The Art House. Do you think positive change like that helps fuel that creativity?
SG: I really do; I think I am in a good place right now. It was kind of a tumultuous couple of years when I was writing the album so I think that is why there is a darker and somber tone, although I do hope people hear that there is a sense of resilience in there also. That is why I named the record Not The End Of Me. Sometimes it feels like life is getting the better of you and things in your life are also getting the better of you, but hopefully people hear a sense of self empowerment. Despite the dark times we may go through, we can overcome those things.
MC: There is also a sense of hopefulness in your music. So many people do feel hopeless sometimes and have trouble getting to the other side; how did you convince yourself that you would actually get to the other side and accomplish it?
SG: I think it is learning that, as life goes on, I had times that I wondered how I would get through something or I thought that once I had gotten through something, I could make it though anything. The human spirit is incredibly resilient; I think that it is a matter of having faith, but also having good people around you. It’s also a matter of having a sense of gratitude. I think most of us, living in the time that we are living in now, things are overwhelmingly good, if you are not having to worry doubt where your next meal is coming from or if you are going to have a warm dry place to sleep. I think that there is really something to be said with constantly making the effort to to take into account all of the ways that you have it pretty good. It doesn’t make your problems go away, but it’s always good to have that perspective
MC: Provincetown all summer is a magical place and your performances at The Art House is a wonderful place for a return engagement! How does it feel to be able to share your art with such a magical place?
SG: I feel so lucky to be able to do that. I am especially excited about my show this year also. I am really trying to step up my game. My show was much more somber last year, as I had just released that record. This year, I am really putting a lot of energy into and learning a lot of new music. I have really tried to pay attention to what I think my audience willl really get a kick out of and I think people are really gonna love it. I will be at the Art House Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7pm July 2nd through September 5th. This year’s time slot is the one that I did in 2017, so I think its gonna be great; it’s a great right before or right after dinner kind of show.
MC: As an indie artist, you have managed to break out and make a name for yourself with really consistently amazing music. Sometimes, a large label can swallow up an artist and prevent their creative vision from coming forth. Are you happy staying an independent and freely creative artist?
SG: You know, I will always say that the grass is always greener. I have never been on that other side of the fence, so I really don’t know. I am sure that it would be a lot different. Right now when things go well, I can pat myself on the back, but when things don’t I have to take ownership of them myself. It has really taught me a lot about having to be a leader and be accountable for myself. It is a very small operation, so if something is not going right, I don’t have to search far and wide for what the issue is. It is usually me, or someone that I am working closely with. If something is not working right, I always try to say “what could I be doing better?” even if it is someone else that is not pulling their own weight. I look at that as being my responsibly; my name is on the door and I’m the boss. It has helped me mature a lot I think, so I am grateful for it for that reason. I think I am better suited for being an independent artist. I also don’t listen very well to what other people want me to do. If it’s not something I really believe in or want to do, I really struggle to deliver. For better or for worse, I am a very honest person. If I am not believing everything that I am saying or singing, I think that it is really is apparent. I always have to be doing something really honest.
MC: How do you balance touring and working in places like Provincetown, and managing to carve out or maintain a relationship of your own or a private life? How do you do that in the midst of all of the “hustle”?
SG: I’m not always running around, I do have some time on my own. Thankfully, we live in a time when it’s easy to get on the phone with someone and everyone always feels close enough. Also, I do get around the country a lot, so I don’t ever feel like anyone is too far away. Usually, I try to work things out through a gig, if there is someone that I want to see. I really like spending a lot of time by myself and have really learned that I am a lot more of an introvert than I thought I was. I think that is because as a performer, I need to be so extroverted and that takes a lot of energy from me. being “on”. In my own time, I really like to be by myself, and sometimes probably to a fault. I do try to make sure that every often I am getting out to see friends and things like that.
MC: What would the Steve Grand of today with all of the lessons you have learned in your life, tell the Steve Grand that is just starting out in the business?
SG: It’s been almost six years for me, and I think every seven years, your body regenerates every single cell in it, so you really are a different person. I would say buckle up and make sure that you have someone doing your accounting and paying your taxes, you will save yourself so much stress. Learn to be able to separate your sense or worth from what you do. I think like a lot of people who become an artist or who seek something where they are in the public eye, the line between who you know yourself to be and what you are as a professional gets really blurred. You have to make sure there is a very clear line. Its easy to get swept up, people can be fickle and sometimes it can feel like everyone in the world hates you because maybe you said something stupid in an interview and now you’re getting a lot of heat for it. While it’s important to be critical of yourself in order to learn and grow, you also need to know that you are more than what people out there think of you.
MC: What gives you the most Pride right now?
SG: Honestly, I would say that it is really important what my family and my close group of friends think of me and being able to be there for those people. Sometimes something may come up where someone needs you or you’re called to be there for someone and the older I get, the more important that is to me. I take a real sense of pride and validation in that sort of thing.