by Jeff Niesel
Singer-songwriter Josh Krajcik became a sensation after placing second on last year’s X Factor, the American Idol-like reality show designed to launch new talent. Since then, the Wooster native has signed a record deal with a Sony subsidiary and been busy splitting time between studios in L.A. and London as he records his major label debut. But Krajcik, who currently lives in Columbus, says he has been “craving some gigs,"so the soulful singer will play at 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 1 at the House of Blues. Here’s a timeline of how he went from the corner bar to national TV with his recollections of the important stops (including one at Cleveland’s Brothers Lounge) along the way. Tickets to Wednesday's show are $15 advance, $20 day of show.
1988 — Starts taking piano lessons. “I was in second grade and my two grandmas pitched in and bought me a piano because I had a little keyboard. I had two different teachers because I liked to noodle around and make up stuff. I had this teacher who nourished the ear and taught some musical theory and a teacher who taught me the fundamentals of piano and did that. I did that for a few years before I picked up the guitar.”
1998 — Joins the Triway Local School choir. “It’s kind of funny. In seventh grade, I took a music history class. I failed it because I didn’t do the homework. The teacher was also the choir director. He said, ‘I’ll pass you if you join the choir.’ I was like, ‘Shit.’ Little did I know that it’s mostly girls, so that wasn’t a bad thing. In the long run, it helped for me to learn what my range is and get some fundamentals vocally so it was a good thing.
1999 — Plays his first show at Lodi, Ohio’s the Shady Glen. He receives $100 for the night. “It was 21 and over, but I told them I was 22 when I was 15 or 16. I don’t know how they bought it. I had some scraggly ass beard and that must have helped. But I’ve seen pictures of that scraggly beard and I look like a child baby man. I don’t know how I pulled it off. But I would play for four hours and got paid $100. I was like, ‘Wow. I can make money doing this.’ So that was a turning point.”
2000 — Father gives him his first guitar, a Fender Stratocaster. “My dad gave me a Fender Squier Strat in seventh grade. It was probably a junker, but I loved it. I just took to it. I think having the piano background made it easier for me. I picked it up quick.”
2003 — Moves to L.A. and puts together the hard rock outfit Etherface. “It was a lot of fun and really loud and there’d be like four dudes at the show. No chicks. I realized I needed to go back to my bread and butter which is writing poppier blues tunes.”
2005 — Meets bassist Mitch Pinkston at Bowling Green. Sound engineer Eric French introduces Krajcik to drummer Corey Gillen at the Blues Station, a Columbus bar. That same year, Krajcik records his debut, Ghosts, and tours in support of the album as the opening act/backing band for Gran Bel Fisher. “[Fisher] was signed to a deal with Hollywood Records and that was around 2006 or 2007 and he just called us up to back him up. Sometimes my band was with us, but mostly it was just he and I.”
2006 — Appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “That was cool. Kimmel would have a glass of whiskey and a mug of beer under his desk for a commercial break. He carried over that man show spirit. He’s really cool, and I really dug that. That was a cool experience.
2008 — Wins a battle of the bands at Brothers Lounge. “That was a lot of fun actually. There’s a stigma to doing battle of the bands but we loved the club and thought it would be fun. We thought we might get some swag out of it. It was cool, too. I met [the Plain Dealer’s] Michael Heaton and he wrote a piece about us. It’s a nice venue. It’s great.”
2011 — After successfully auditioning for X Factor, Krajcik starts competing on national TV. “In April I turned 30 and I had that fuck-it moment and I just wanted to do it. Gran bel Fisher called me and wanted me to do it and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ He had some health problems and couldn’t do it and I just went up there and did it. I had mixed feelings when I didn’t finish first. Part of me didn’t want to wave that flag. Also, five million dollars is a lot of bread so that would have been nice. Look, I’ve gotten a deal out of it. I’ve got supporters and people that like what I’ve done. It’s going to be great for a record deal and it’s a nice head start. You couldn’t pay for better exposure so I couldn’t be happier.
2011 — Band releases its second album, Atavistic. “That’s an independent record of the Josh Krajcik Band and it wasn’t too long after that that we went to the TV show. I didn’t give that record much of a chance. I love that music and what I’m doing now isn’t so different. When you’re working bar to bar, you can’t afford more than a three-piece band. I’ve never had a chance to have string arrangments and horns and back-up singers and get a soul element in there. It’s great to move into this new phase."