The Krajcik Factor
Fresh from his star turn on Simon Cowell’s reality show, local musician headlines the Newport
By Travis HoewischerPublished June 1, 2012
On a clear afternoon in May, Josh Krajcik had just finished performing under the million-dollar amphitheatre at the Columbus Commons – no doubt a surreal thrill for a once-unknown Columbus musician.
But the barrel-chested barroom crooner and runner-up contestant on the reality talent show X Factor wasn’t puffing his chest, waiting for the autograph seekers to corner him.
“I just wanted to meet Wade Boggs,” he tells me from the London studio where he’s working on songs for his first full-length album.
He’s referring to the former Red Sox third baseman and Hall of Famer, who, in town for the Field of Dreams game at Clippers Stadium, had wondered over to the Commons for a listen.
“I wanted to hear about the legend of him drinking 50 beers on one flight,” he said with a laugh. “That’s what’s amazing about this new part of my life. A little kid from Finland ran up to me in an international airport and wanted his picture taken. Now, it’s Hall of Famer Wade Boggs! These are guys I watched as a kid. Un-freakin-believable. If there’s any kind of perks, it’s that Wade Boggs is a fan of mine.”
And that is Josh Krajcik in his purest form. A relatively successful local musician a year ago, now he’s more recognizable worldwide than any Columbus musician – more than Willy Phoenix, McGuffey Lane, Arnett Howard or any of the other greats from the capital city scene. He’s stared down Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid and belted out beloved classics for millions of people – yet he’s most excited to meet one of his favorite childhood baseball players.
“It’s insane, but it’s great,” Krajick said, seemingly amazed that so many people are interested in him or his music. “When people want to know what’s going on with you … it’s f*cking great. Anyone in any industry just wants to be recognized for what they do.”
It appears Josh is still the same humble guy who showed up with his mom/driver in tow for the show’s auditions, the former burrito-joint employee with a stunning Etta James cover up his sleeve. Now, he’s in London, operating as casually as if he was gearing up for a gig at Rumba Café.
“I’m doing some songwriting with some guys and the work is going great,” he said nonchalantly. “I think I might go with a friend tonight to watch some soccer game. I’m just going with the flow.”
But, he isn’t just riding shotgun when it comes to the music. He’s involved in every aspect of the songwriting process, confident that his first album will be true to his style, not the over-produced output of some former music reality show contestants.
“That’s not a big worry of mine,” he said. “That probably happens more often to artists who aren’t songwriters. I assume, I don’t know. I’m just gonna make the best record I can. I didn’t lose my soul on the show, so I have no worries of doing that now.”
More than anything, Krajcik says he is grateful for the opportunity the show gave him, during an era when the cost of living, the cost of gasoline, and the inherent “long shot” nature of touring have rendered the “big break” even more of a rarity.
“It’s great because I don’t really know another way that you can reach that many people – and it was really just a handful of performances. There’s just no better way to do it. It used to be you just had to tour and tour and tour until you made it, but it’s hard to do that these days, especially if you don’t already have your foot in the door,” he said. “It’s the best thing I ever did.”
Going on the show also signaled a significant commitment to making something happen with his music career. While music in Columbus had earned him some props, he knew he had to take on some more adventurous routes.
“I always knew I would play music, but I wondered if I was in the right city, or was I too focused on it,” he said. “That was part of he reason I went to do the show. I had one of those “f*ck it” kind of moments. I was like, ‘Let’s go do it.’ If you don’t question what you’re doing in life, you’re probably just blindly going through it. You can always be better.”
Still in the course of a life-changing series of events in his career – headlining the Newport June 8th, for example – Krajcik has applied the “f*ck it” attitude liberally, choosing to keep it simple.
“I think that’s a good tool to have in this business,” he said. “I just want to pack the Newport, do my thing, and it’s on to the next day.”
(with the Wet Darlings)
Newport Music Hall