Steve Grand has been through a lot.
That much is evident on not the end of me, Grand's newest album. There are certainly uptempo numbers that incorporate everything from country to pop to light reggae, but the lyrics reveal someone who has certainly had his ups and downs ( professionally and personally ) since he broke out as an openly gay country star in 2013. Grand has even said of the 12-track album, "This album is autobiographicalvery personal, somber and reflective."
Windy City Times: Let's talk about the title of the album. Did you feel like it might have been the end of you, at one point, professionally speaking?
Steve Grand: Well, I think a lot of us go through that time of our lives when we're downor even that we don't want to go on. I've had some pretty dark moments over the last couple years, and a lot of these songs were written when I was pretty low.
But this title is about resilience. One of the things I've learned over the past couple of years is that you can't control a lot of situations in life. You can't control what you've done in the pastbut you can control your attitude about it. Part of that is saying, "Despite getting down, I'm going to try to be better today than I was yesterday, and I'm going to try to start every day with a sense of humility and gratitude."
WCT: I think some people think that celebrities have lives that are always glamorous, or that you're never lonely. On this album, there are moments of happinessbut I sensed that you're someone who's older and wiser, but who's had a few bumps along the way.
SG: That's a great way to put it.
To say I'm a celebrity is a bit of a stretch, though; I'm lucky to have a solid, supportive fan basemostly within the gay community. After my first song and video went viral, it was a zero-to-60 thingand I wasn't ready for it, although I don't think anyone is ready for that. Despite what people may see on Instagram, lives are more complicated than they think. That's important to remember: We're not just flat imageswe're people with all kinds of complications and struggles. To be human is to suffer.
WCT: There are lyrics in "Pink Champagne" that involve a toast to someone who was "cheering on [your] decay." I didn't expect the album to go there.
SG: [Laughs] Yeah. I wrote that song during a pretty dark and bitter time.
One thing about me is that I'm pretty open and honest with myself. It takes me time to come around. I am very willing to self-correct. I'm going to keep changing and my perspective is going to keep changing. It's a common thing to go through in your 20s, and you get away from your formative years.
WCT: So, given the personal nature of the songs, would that explain the three-year gap between your last album and this one. However, I do know you were also involved with [the web series] Falling for Angels.
SG: Yeahthat's part of it, but I don't want to let myself off the hook. I should've been putting more music out more frequently. As an artist, you keep wanting to edit yourself, ad infinitum. I'd look back at songs I wrote a year and a half ago, and realize "I'm in a different place now." But the problem is you can always update songs, so it's like a dog chasing its tail. So I might do an album of five or six songs, and release items more frequently. It's good to push yourself, although you don't want to go overboard.
WCT: I can't believe it's been five years since that national exposure. It seems like yesterday.
SG: I know! I was a deer in the headlights then. [Laughs]
WCT: So what would the Steve Grand of 2018 tell the Steve Grand of 2013 about life and music?
SG: Hmmm… It's so difficult because there's a part of me that's very stubborn and doesn't listen to others. I don't even know if I'd listen to my older self. I was just going to do what I was going to do. But maybe I could shake him and say, "All the things that are going to feel like the end of the world are not going to be. You will come back. You should hold your feet to the fire, but you should also learn from your mistakes."
WCT: You alluded to this earlier, but what do you want listeners to take away from this album?
SG: That I go through the same things everyone else doesand that we all have to find our own unique paths forward. You have a sense of resilience in this world, especially if you're going to put yourself out there. Resilience is key.
Also, when a lot of us are younger, we want to fix everything around us. Over the last couple years, I've learned that perhaps I need to look at myself and fix myself before trying to fix the problems in the world. Looking inward instead of pointing fingers outward is a great exercise.
WCT: I have to ask this because I'm an editor: Why is everything in lower-case?
SG: [Laughs] I wanted to give the feeling that these are pages from a diary. The font is actually my handwriting, and I did all the artwork for the album myself. These are pages from my diary because it's really personal and unfiltered. It was a cathartic experience writing these songs.
Also, there's a sense of the unfinishedthat it's not the end of me. [Laughs] Upper-case seemed too proper; I wanted to give a sense of forward motion.
Follow Grand at SteveGrand.com ( where not the end of me is available ), on Facebook, on Instagram @stevegrandmusic and on Twitter @SteveGrandMusic.