Excerpt From: http://www.granian.com/bio/
He'd been anointed by Spin as the hottest unsigned artist on the planet. He'd racked up more than 25,000 sales with no label muscle. He's hit number one on MP3.com. He'd drawn from a kaleidoscope of influences to create a passion-drenched, personal style that had brought him bookings up and down the East Coast and as far west as California.
But something wasn't right.
And so, in 2003, Garen Gueyikian, a.k.a. Granian, stepped out on his own. He got himself centered. He recorded a solo album, Live Sessions, in a studio filled with thirty fortunate fans and hundreds of flickering candles. It is a riveting document -- but still something was missing.
Which leads to On My Own Two Feet, an astonishing CD performed by Granian backed by musicians who are fully connected to his songs. His journey hasn't been long, but with this release he blends all that he's experienced into a perfect reflection of who this artist is and, more important, what he is soon to become.
"My true colors came out with this album," says the Holmdel, New Jersey native....
But working solo also built up Granian's restlessness. From the start he wanted On My Own Two Feet to rock. There were obvious steps to take toward making this happen, not the least of which was to find the right producer. This turned out to not be so difficult: Through mutual friends he contacted Mike Shimshack, whose résumé included projects in country, hard rock, pop -- a sprawl of styles, though in each he found the right sound for the occasion. A meeting or two was all it took to persuade Granian that he had found his partner.
"We had enough trust to challenge each other until we came up with something we both knew was right," Granian says. "On 'My Voice,' for instance, he felt that my melody and lyrics were a little mysterious for the music. So he borrows my guitar, asks me to sing the song, and plays it with a slower feel. The next thing I knew, we had a completely rearranged song with a new bridge and a new breakdown, all done on the fly. That's how it was throughout these sessions."
"As I started playing solo acoustic in 2003, I wanted to write these songs and keep working on them until they were ready to record. It was just as important to find the right musicians. And when that time came I wanted to work with professionals, with hard-hitting players who understood what I was going for.”
This also proved easier than he expected. Through his producer Granian assembled an ideal group, beginning with drummer Nir Z, whose history included work with John Mayer and Peter Gabriel. Kyle Kelso (Tony C. & the Truth, Driver X, Wunderband) sculpted his aggressive guitar parts with a contradictory sensitivity, bassist Pemberton Roach laid down massive, high-impact lines, and Chris Gignoux sprinkled electronic details that added mystery and texture to the mix. It was the kind of band any gifted singer/songwriter would die to take into the studio and out on the road …
"I didn't meet these guys until the day we started recording," he explains. "That was the beauty of it: to get together with great musicians, play them my songs, and then have them run with that. And it worked brilliantly. There was one song I played for Nir Z once, then I played it again and talked about what I wanted, and then he got behind his drums and threw it down perfectly the first time he played it, which was also the third time he heard it. All the guys were like that. They totally got it."
"I had demoed each song with vocals and acoustic guitar," he says. "I'd cut them a little tighter than I do them live, so that the guitar wasn't too busy or crazy and I could give an impression of what kind of feel I wanted from the band. When we were finished, I was amazed: It sounds like the tightest live band you could imagine."
That's the key: these players were Granian throughout each take -- Granian, that is, as an ongoing musical story, not just the one guy who came up with the name as a framework for all his musical endeavors. Whether hammering out acoustic guitar riffs on solo gigs, fronting a group whose roots go back to their first appearance in 1996, or road-mapping accents in the studio alone with Nir Z, Garen Gueyikian stands at the center of this whirlwind, all of it identified by that name.
In fact it goes back further than that, to when Gueyikian began playing guitar at age fourteen. He started doing gigs at sixteen, as front man and youngest member of a local band. A kaleidoscope of influences tumbled through his early music: Pearl Jam, Live, Guster, the Verve Pipe, the Indigo Girls -- too many and varied to mention. He processed it all and recorded his first CD, with the seeds of his unique sound, before graduating from high school.
For a while Granian went to college, studying civil engineering at Northeastern in Boston, then transferring to the University of Maryland. All the while his mind was on music more than urban design. "I wrote one of the first Granian songs, 'Foresight,' during my first two or three weeks at Northeastern," he recalls. "After I played it for my roommate he'd go out into the hallway and one by one he'd bring in these girls to hear it. I'd play the song and before I was finished they'd start crying. I realized right away that I loved putting myself out there and stirring up some emotion."
With waning energy Granian tried to focus on his studies, finally transferring to Brookdale Community College back in New Jersey. Halfway through his three-year program he surrendered to the inevitable: "The whole time I was in school I just wanted to play and write music. There was no way I could stop. It was easier for me to put school on hold. My parents and I fought about it for a good three or four years before they finally understood that this is something I can't not do."
In 1995 he launched Granian as a four-piece. Despite personnel changes that began almost immediately, the group packed the Lion's Den in New York with a release party for their first CD, Without Changes, in November 1996. A second album, Hang Around, followed in October 2000; shortly after that the group streamlined down to a trio. Then came the solo incarnation; letting go of his band, Granian cut the epochal Live Sessions in 2003, followed by a national one-man tour, during which he played on intimate coffeehouse stages as well as in arenas opening for Matchbox 20, Vertical Horizon, Guster, and other headliners. And, not incidentally, he also conceived the idea of On My Own Two Feet.
Granian's sessions with Shimshack led first to a five-song EP, My Voice, which previewed the full album. Fans responded eagerly, buying nearly the entire pressing and turning the disc into a collector's item within months. With On My Own Two Feet Granian now fulfills a promise made not just on the EP but in the music he has written and performed as far back as those dorm-room recitals.
"I know who I am now more so than ever before," he insists. "That's what I want to put out on songs like 'On My Own,' 'My Voice,' and 'Vigil.' I'm finding my own place in this world and doing what I feel is right. That's what's going on in my head right now. That's what I'm about. That's why I call this On My Own Two Feet."
And that's why this album gives meaning to the most compelling word emerging in music today: Granian.
Troy Record, NY Dec 2 2004
Internet abuzz about soulful soloist
By Don Wilcock,
There are a lot of young ladies who want to be the subject of Granian's next song. "That's probably the most common thing I've had said to me is, 'I can't imagine having a song like that written about me.' I hear that all the time."
Granian appears Friday at Club Caroline in Saratoga at 11 p.m. He is one of a new breed of singer/songwriter making a name for himself with people who hear his music on the Internet, download it for friends and generate a buzz by word of mouth.
One of the bands carrying his name was picked by Spin Magazine four years ago as best unsigned talent. One of his albums, "My Voice," was the number-one seller on CDBaby.com for two weeks.
In total, he's sold more than 25,000 albums without a label affiliation. His latest release, "On My Own Two Feet," features a "band" of musicians who each dubbed their parts in one at a time. And when he toured the album in Chicago, San Francisco and New York, he hired a different set of musicians to back him for each gig.
No, Granian isn't so much about a band sound as he is the personal, intimate reflections in each song. And that's what hooks the ladies. All 10 songs on "On My Own Two Feet" appear to be a searching retrospective of a failed relationship.
"Lots of time I'll write stuff that isn't even apparent between me and the girlfriend I have at the time," says the singer/songwriter who will perform his material solo on acoustic guitar at Club Caroline.
On the title cut he sings, "It's such a simple thing to let yourself go. The heartache that it brings by now I should know." "I've written a couple of songs about ex's or girls that I didn't know I would write when I was with them or when I was talking to them.
"Months later, you kind of look back on the situation and you're like, 'Oh, wow. Let me dip into how I was really thinking at the time,' because in the moment, you're lost in the moment. You don't really know what's true."
On "Uncovered," he sings, "All the things I say that you never understand. We got together anyway just not quite the way we'd planned."
It's almost as if his songs are therapy to help him work out why it didn't work out.
"There's definitely a couple of songs in there where a verse will come out, and that will be all I will think about when I think back on the specific situation.
"Then, when it goes down in the song, it's so crystal clear, and it definitely makes it easier to deal with at that point because it's so crystal clear that I'm sitting here writing this song."
"Slowly pulling you in like she's been sent from up above," he sings in "Contagious." "She's like a pill, you get your fill."
You can almost imagine these women who hear his songs telling themselves that they're going to be different. They're going to land this sensitive lad with an ever-more-broken heart.
He characterizes these women by types. They are roughly divided into two camps: those who come to his rock shows with "the band," and those who are into his acoustic performances.
"There isn't a stereotype," he says. "Not at all. But I think at the end of the day, there's the girl who's the real music fan, and then there's the girl who is awestruck by the confidence and the demand on attention you get when you're with a full band doing a full rock show.
"When I'm playing solo acoustic, I'm definitely more personal. More of my personality comes out when I'm playing solo because I'm cracking jokes and I'm laughing. I'm making people laugh.
"I say so many times I should be getting two pay checks, one for comedy and one for music, because a lot of time I have people rolling on the floor. They just can't believe they're laughing so hard and they're watching me play music.
"Then, when I'm playing the full rock show, I'm in rock-star mode, and the antics are flowing, I'm on my knees, and I'm on the edge of the stage, and I'm hamming it up.
"So the girls from the acoustic show are definitely more music fans. They're definitely fans of my music and fans of what I do. They are totally intrigued by the fact I'm up there with just one guitar, and I'm just pouring my heart out.
"Then, there are the other girls. I mean, they're probably the more superficial girls, which I get off with the full band and the electric guitars and the bull horns waving in the air. Just from jumping around, it's a completely different show."
Granian whose real name is Garen Gueyikian comes from a large, extended Armenian family with 18 first cousins.
He says he's "a girlfriend kind of guy," but he also says he isn't going to work as hard as one has to work in a marriage if he's not sure it's going to last forever.
"At the end of the day, I'm looking for a girl who's really not so much into my music but definitely more into my personality," he says. He once had a drummer who'd played with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fame, who gave him some sage advice on how a rock star should pick a wife.
"He was about 35 years old at the time," recalls Granian. "His advice to me was if you're looking to find a happy marriage and a good woman, find one that that has no interest and doesn't like your music, 'cause she will not come to your shows and will not be jealous.
"She will not ask too much of you. She will not involve herself in that world. She knows that is a separate world."
That Twisted Sister's advice made sense to a young but not so naïve Granian. "I've had girlfriends that would come talk to me after the show, and they'd get like a sourpuss face.
"Instead of talking to my fans, I've got to deal with the fact that my girlfriend is jealous in the corner, and my girlfriend is giving me some sour face. I'm more worried about that than I am at the end of the day talking to my fans and making new fans."
My personal advice to Granian in Saratoga is not to show this article to any female fans.