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Catching Up With…Josh Kelley
Most people get tongue-tied when attempting to pronounce the name of our university, but Josh Kelley, the Georgia-bred singer/songwriter who rocked Quinnipiac in 2003 for the Fall Concert with Third Eye Blind, does it with ease. Nearly two years after serving as an opening act to promote his debut disc “For the Ride Home,” he still has fond memories of Connecticut and people he met during his campus performance. Kelley’s second studio album, “Almost Honest,” has just hit store shelves and he is set to begin his own eleven city headlining tour next week, with a stop at Toad’s Place on Thursday. While on his way to the airport, Kelley gave The Chronicle a ring to chat about his new record, express excitement about potential acting gigs, and confess his fears about forgetting the words to the National Anthem.
The Chronicle: It’s so nice to talk with you again, last time we spoke you were in the middle of choosing a second single from your first CD and now your second album is out! What makes it different from your first release?
Josh Kelley: I wrote songs with friends this time, which makes it a little different. My writing style changed from seeing more of the world. When you travel to different countries and travel around this country, your perspective changes mentally and spiritually and you just end up writing about different things.
TC: Having been out of the music headlines for a while when making this new disc, did you feel any pressure from the so-called ‘sophomore jinx’ so prevalent for artists’ making a second album?
JK: I can’t say that I felt much pressure, but to kill the ‘sophomore jinx’ thing I wrote 147 songs. I ended up just being very devoted to my craft and making it happen.
TC: For listeners who may have not given your first album a fair shake a few years back, why should they pick up “Almost Honest”?
JK: On this album, every song is relatable and every song is a different style, but I still stay true to what I stand for. With (title track) “Almost Honest,” I can’t imagine anyone not relating to that song—everyone’s been almost honest in their lives, no one’s perfect. I followed my mom’s advice when she told me to write songs that can relate to people.
TC: You are dropping by the area for a tour stop in New Haven next week. How does it feel to finally be the headliner after doing so many supporting gigs?
JK: It feels really good. One of my goals was to eventually start headlining shows and making an impact on my own crowd. I remember the last time I was (at QU) I was with Third Eye Blind. I actually met some really cool people (on campus) that I ended up keeping in touch with when I came through there that showed me around. I wonder if they’re still there…
TC: I’ll have to ask around and figure it out for you. So you remember the school, huh?
JK: I remember everything, man. I don’t know what animal it is that remembers everything, but whatever it is, that’s me. (laughs)
TC: Having been in Los Angeles for a while now, has your outlook on the entertainment industry changed at all?
JK: Absolutely. Everything changes when you finally move away. You get a different perspective on how the industry works. I just bought a house in Nashville, Tenn., but right when I came back from signing the papers on that house, I made a video and I ended up starting to date the girl that was in my video. She lives in L.A., so now I’m back in L.A. all the time.
TC: Knowing what you do now, is there anything you would have done differently with your career in the past?
JK: Not at all. This is the way I wanted to do it, ease myself into the industry. I think that if too much success would have happened off the first record, I think I would have gone a little crazy. I was lucky I did just well enough to get things really moving to get my name out there. That afforded me the opportunity to grow and become a much better artist.
TC: OK, that takes care of the hard questions, now we’ll talk about some fun stuff. Last time I asked who your dream duet partner would be, you brought up Jewel’s name. Has your choice changed since then?
JK: I did a tour with Jewel and she’s cool, but now I think I’d rather do a duet with Norah Jones. Natasha Bedingfield, I heard her voice today, she would be a really good duet for me.
TC: In the past you’ve done television spots on “American Dreams,” and “Smallville.” Any chance viewers will spot you somewhere on the small screen this fall? I think “Grey’s Anatomy” (featuring girlfriend Katherine Heigl) could use a singing doctor!
JK: (laughs) It looks like I’m going to be acting on “One Tree Hill.” I don’t have a date on that yet. I think I’m doing “Smallville” again; they’re using “Almost Honest” for their show. I’m working on a script right now that I’m almost finished with, so if that gets picked up, I’ll probably act in my own movie.
TC: What keeps you busy when you’re not gearing up for the tour?
JK: I’m always writing, always making new songs. I do a lot painting-anything creative I like to do.
TC: I saw your paintings online, they’re quite impressive.
JK: Thank you. That’s just a series I keep working on, and whenever I get time, I paint another one.
TC: Are you going to sell them online for the fans?
JK: I don’t know what I’m going to do with them. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually.
TC: What TV shows, other than “Grey’s Anatomy,” are you watching?
JK: I’m watching the “Entourage,” and “The Comeback.”
TC: Tell me one CD fans would be surprised to learn you have in your CD player?
JK: I have a lot of CDs they’d be surprised I own! (laughs) Maybe Toto? (starts singing ‘Rosanna’)
TC: What’s next for you, Josh? You seem like you’re doing everything right now!
JK: We’re going on tour for the rest of my life, it looks like. This weekend I’m doing the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event (airing Sunday, Sept. 4 on NBC) and driving a pace car. Brian McKnight is going to interview me in the pace car for “Entertainment Tonight.” Then I have to sing the National Anthem, I’m freakin’ nervous about that!
TC: Come on, you’ve made two albums and you can’t sing the Star Spangled Banner?
JK: See if you can see on my left forearm, I’m going to have all the words written down just in case!
Josh Kelley appears with supporting act Michael Tolcher at Toad’s Place in New Haven on Thursday, Sept. 8. Tickets for the 8:30 p.m. show are $12 and can be purchased by going to www.etix.com