This is my interview with Andrew Allen on February 14th, 2012. Andrew is an incredibly nice man and he puts on one hell of a show. If he is ever in your area, I HIGHLY suggest you get out of the house to see him! Here are links to his single “Loving You Tonight”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR_0URQKHIY and one of his latest covers of Katy Perry’s “Part of Me”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7glMBY_ZDs. CHECK THIS INTERVIEW OUT ON OUR NEW SITE: http://www.jbrinlinginterviews.com
First off, how are you?
I’m doing good. I’m doing really. Good.
Are you enjoying the tour so far?
It’s been really fun. Tours are never just tours, they’re adventures and journeys where you get the opportunity to meet great people and the whole crew with Dia Frampton is incredibly generous, kind, friendly, and fun to hang out with so it makes every show fun.
When you are on tour, what do you do to stay busy?
I try to be really healthy actually, which is its own challenge like getting up early enough to find a gym in hotels or grocery shop; so it’s always a fun challenge to try to find stuff that won’t rot in your car (laughs). It’s good man and going to new cities trying to find cool places to eat…the best thing I found, especially on this tour, is to send out a tweet and hope a fan will say ‘hey, this is something cool to do in that city.’ It’s fun. We’re also learning Spanish. We got lessons for the car; it’s some podcast from iTunes…Johnny Spanish (laughs).
With today being Valentine’s Day, are you doing anything special?
My wife and I went over to Chipotle and got a free dinner.
Me: That is awesome.
Yeah, apparently they give you a free dinner if you are a touring artist. I had no idea. (Laughs) Isn’t that crazy? That was our romantic Valentine’s Day.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
I would say that if you want to do it, jump in with both feet forward and just go for it. If you only kind of want to it, you might want to consider not. Music is interesting in that you can make it as small or as big as you want. If you love just jamming out at home, then keep it there and if you want to see how far you can take it, then you have to but both feet forward. I think you have to jump in and it hurts less, it’s less cold (laughs).
If you could give yourself advice 5 years ago, what would you say?
I think I would tell myself to enjoy every moment. There are certain moments in the last five years that I don’t regret but I don’t really remember the experience because I was so busy thinking of the next experience instead of enjoying and embracing the one I’d done.
What was it like working on a cruise ship?
(Laughs) It was awesome. It was mostly awesome; I got sea sick like every day.
(Laughs) I don’t know why I couldn’t kick it.
Me: You didn’t get used to it?
(Laughs) No man, a whole year on cruise lines and I never got used to it.
Me: That’s the point where most people would stop if they’re just getting sick every day.
Yeah, but I really loved it (laughs). I was the social host and I got to call bingo, met with guests, had some fun, but I always had to take half a sea sick pill always because it was so bad.
What artists have influenced you most?
I would definitely say Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer. But then there’s other artists that I’m really inspired by as far as their determination; Dia Frampton being one of them. Kate Nash as well, she’s really legit and I love the way that she can talk through her music and say wants she wants to say, I can appreciate that. Anyone who is honest in their music.
If you could co-write with anyone, who would it be and why?
I’m a big fan of Sara Bareillis. She’s really cool and definitely really honest. I think it’d be really fun to co-write with her. I don’t know what we’d come up with. I used to say John Mayer but I don’t think he’d like me (laughs) I’m not like some hot movie star (laughs). I like Sara though, I’m going to stick with her.
Are you surprised with the success of “I Want You” and “Loving You Tonight?”
I’m always pleasantly surprised. I’m definitely an optimist but I don’t always have the confidence behind certain things. When I jumped out there, I was like ‘yeah, this’ll be awesome,’ and then as it starts to grow ‘whoa, it really is!’ (Laughs) I’d really have to convince myself. It’s definitely a pleasant surprise. Anytime something positive happens with the songs. I think the biggest surprise for me is when someone connects with them because I connect with certain songs and write certain songs that I connect with and when you see another person that you’ve never met connect with a song you’ve written, that’s really cool.
Do you have a favorite song to play live?
I have a song called “Grab Your Shoes,” it’s a lot more “amped” up than my other songs and it’s a fun, throw-stuff-through-walls-kind-of song. I can always picture the music video that doesn’t exist of just kicking down walls and pushing things over, grabbing whatever clothes you have and two people in love driving in a beat up convertible to a cliff or something (laughs).
Me: (Laughs) That took a very dark, dramatic turn.
(Laughs) To the ocean, maybe? I don’t know.
Do you have a favorite place to play?
One of my favorites venues that I’ve ever played is in Boston, the House of Blues. I really like playing outdoor venues. Club shows are great and keep everyone contained and it’s still fun but you play outdoors and you’re just breathing fresh air, there’s a bunch of people, and everyone loves being outside. I don’t have a favorite outdoor venue but I love playing outdoors.
Who’s your favorite band or artist that you’ve toured with?
Dia Frampton, of course. Actually, I’ve really enjoyed this tour but we played three shows with The Script and that was huge for me because I’m a huge fan already so when we got the call I was freaking out. They exceeded my expectations. They came down to the green room, were super friendly, wanted to hang with us and this whole time I’m thinking ‘you want to hang with us?’ That was a cool experience.
What inspired The Living Room Sessions?
I read a book by Shane Claiborne called The Irresistible Revolution, it’s kind of a Christian literature book, but he’s way on the outside, he’s just a crazy dude. He went and lived in inner-city Philly and slept on the streets and was feeding people in the park and got arrested, went to court, and his lawyer was a homeless guy (laughs), just so crazy and his big thing, now, is speaking engagements all over the world. When he goes to these places, he says ‘I don’t want to stay in a hotel.’ Instead he wanted to stay at peoples’ houses; he wanted to get to know people. I thought ‘hey, I should do that.’ That’s really awkward, but I’m into that. Let’s try it. So I just started asking, I was playing a show in my hometown when I was asked by a guy ‘when you coming to Toronto?’ I said, ‘well, I don’t have a show planned, but I could play at your house.’ He was like ‘really?’ I said, ‘yeah! I’m all for it.’ He asked what to pay me and I told he didn’t have to pay me anything, he could just charge whatever at the door. All he had to provide us with was dinner and somewhere to sleep. So I ended up doing this for almost a year. It was great because I’d play in markets I never had before. Each house had like 40 people and we’d get to know all of them on this personal level. We’d wake up eat breakfast with them and just be on our way. They’re still following on Twitter and we’ll chat now and again. Those were probably some of the best shows of my life. They were awesome so I’m glad I took the chance.
Is there a song that you wish you played live?
I wish I wrote “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer. That’s such a friggin’ awesome song. If I had written that song, I’d play it all the time. I have a song that I wrote a long time ago called “Playground Rules,” and it was always a solid, emotional song for me. It’s like 7 minutes long though and people start to tune out halfway through. Might not be the best song for them, but for me, I really love the song. So that might be one I’d bring back if I had two hours and needed to fill some time (laughs).
What’s the craziest experience you’ve had after a show?
We are so lame. We don’t have too many crazy experiences. I wish I had crazier stories. One time this guy was super hopped up on drugs and he stole a fake baby that we got a pawn shop and he started cradling it. Most of the time, if there’s a party, I’ll just bail. I’d so much rather go to bed.
How difficult is it to be a touring husband as well?
I think it’d be almost impossible if she wasn’t with me the whole time. It’s an adventure together and we experience things together. I toured for about two and half weeks without here and it was awful, it was not what I signed up for. When we first decided to tour together, both of us quit our jobs, sold everything we had, bought a minivan, and just started touring. Part of the reason we did was because we wanted to see each other more. We didn’t want to be apart as we both did the nine to five and we’d barely see each other. We realized how stupid it was so now we see each other all the time. It’s great.
What’s your greatest memory in music so far?
The most reason for me is that I played a show in Vancouver, near my hometown. We did a morning show that morning and I realized that my throat was starting to feel funny and by the evening I had completely developed laryngitis and had absolutely no voice. It was a sold out show and I was terrified. So I went out to the crowd and said ‘look I lost my voice, I don’t want to cancel the show but I don’t have a voice.’ We ended up playing an hour and a half where I had to sing almost nothing because the crowd sung it all to me. I was honestly in tears halfway through the show. Even better, nobody had left. I thought for sure people would leave because who would want to listen to some croaking guy trying to sing. But they stayed and sung the songs and that was the most inspiring moment I’ve ever had. It beat out playing in front of 20,000 people. It was a really beautiful and special moment for me.
What are your plans for the future?
After this tour, I think we’ll head back to Canada for a bit and do some touring there. We have kind of neglected Canada over the last little while so it’s time to go back and play there. Then, I’m not sure. Everything moves so fast out here, you just have to ride the waves. We’ll see what happens.