Bitten by the music bug as a teenager, Griffin House is no stranger to the scene. When the self-disciplined singer-songwriter, who was offered a golf scholarship to Ohio University, realized that he wanted to make a career out of music instead of sport, he devoted his life to learning the craft and perfecting his sound. It didn’t take long for the world to discover House’s undeniable talent. Shortly after graduating college and moving to Nashville, he found himself headlining shows, talking to record labels, and frequenting Los Angeles and New York. Several critically-acclaimed albums later and House became a household name, as his gripping and meaningful music touched the lives of listeners everywhere. Now, with his newest album The Learner, House further propels himself into the spotlight. I was lucky enough to catch the charming artist during some down time (which, in his world, doesn’t happen often) and he kindly talked to me about the new record, his increasing popularity, and his desire to perform at Red Rocks.
How did you celebrate the release of The Learner?
I think I was playing a show somewhere. I honestly can’t remember doing anything. We went to Florida to celebrate my birthday this year, but that was in April.
What type of conscious efforts did you make to take The Learner in a different direction than your previous works?
Well, I think the most obvious decision I made that was really different was to have a song like “She Likes Girls” on the record. People either loved it or hated it and we knew that was going to happen. It was a bit frustrating to me though that the people who hated it were the ones that didn’t seem to really ‘get it’.
What will surprise long-time fans the most about the new album?
“Never Hide”, is something that felt different for me, both vocally and musically. It was a chord progression I’d never used before, it has a really unique bridge and the vocals go way up there. And I think “Feel So Right” was a new kind of song for me, really up beat…it’s a more up tempo record for sure.
You’ve been to Colorado several times- where is your favorite place to play? Do you enjoy the state?
So far the Fox Theatre has been my favorite place to play, I’ve mostly only played there. I’d love to do Red Rocks one day, if only it was 1985 and we could get on TV maybe that would be possible. :) Colorado is a very nice place to visit, I’m a water person though, so it’s a bit too land locked for me to stay too long. I’m still awaiting the day where I get to spend some time skiing or snowboarding there though.
This has been an incredible year for you- featured in Esquire Magazine, featured video on Larry King Live- how do you react to things like this?
Yes, Esquire Magazine and Larry King Live feature were both great. It’s obviously nice to get some credible exposure in places. But that’s kind of a never ending game, and there never really seems to be enough for anyone, so I’ve kind of transitioned into not thinking about it too much. The best place for my mind and heart to be is just to keep trying to make music that’s really true to who I feel I am.
What’s one thing you can’t do without while you’re on the road?
I seem to not be very good at doing without beer on the road. :) I was home for eight straight months (more or less) this year and didn’t drink it at all. But it’s my Achilles heel. We have a love/hate relationship. I’m figuring it out though. Doing ok.
What is your ideal venue to play in?
My ideal venue to play would be a giant stadium. Maybe the OSU horseshoe in Columbus where the Buckeyes play or Paul Brown stadium in Cincinnati. A lot of my songs work in very small places where it’s very quiet and intimate, but a lot of them can really ring out across a giant field. It’d be fun to get to run all over a stadium and start the show by marching up the field between the crowd like I saw U2 do back on the Popmart tour when I was a teenager.
You got to work with superstar Alison Krauss on the new record- what was that experience like?
Alison just came in and sang, it was super chill. I wrote out the words for her and taped them to the wall so she could see them when she sang. Then I shut the door to the vocal booth and ran out for a golf game I had that morning, and I didn’t hear what she did until after the song was all done. I still kinda can’t believe she sang on my record.
If The Learner was the soundtrack to a movie, which one would it be?
My record would definitely be the soundtrack to some classic 80’s movie that never got made. Maybe staring John Cusack, or Molly Ringwald, or Robert Downey Jr.
If there was one person in the world that you would love to have as your #1 fan, who would it be?
If Leonardo Da Vinci was my number one fan then I would feel pretty cool. If not him, then maybe Joe Strummer.