Watch a Sneak Peek of Josh Groban's 'Stages Live' Concert Film: Exclusive

Josh Groban
James Dimmock

Josh Groban

From Stages to the Broadway stage, Josh Groban has a busy 2016 ahead. 

"I fear I've bitten off quite a bit more than I usually do -- but nothing I can't handle," Groban tells Billboard. "Look, I'm inspired by work. I like to keep moving. I've had beginnings of years where I've looked ahead and said to myself, 'I'm gonna be twiddling my thumbs here.' But this is a year where I've got so much inspiration and exploration lined up ahead of me, and while it's daunting it's the kind of thing that feeds me, that gets my fire going."

Groban will start the year where he finished 2015, focused on Stages, his collection of Broadway favorites that's nominated for a Grammy for best traditional pop vocal album. On Feb. 5, he'll release Josh Groban: Stages Live, a CD and DVD set from the tour supporting it, and the night before Fathom Events will present a theatrical showing of the film along with a live Q&A with Groban (theaters and ticket information can be found at Billboard is exclusively premiering an exclusive clip from Stages Live below. 

"I'm a big fan of posterity," Groban says, "and I'm a big fan of live music programs. I've got 100 music DVDs on my bus that we watch for recreation. And when you do a special, a TV special or a DVD, it gives you a chance to really plan a one-night-only show that is a little bit different than the way you plan a tour. We can get Kelly Clarkson for one night ("All I Ask of You" from Phantom of the Opera). We can get Audra McDonald ("If I Loved You" from Carousel). Nothing ever matches the energy of a live show, of course, but the Fathom thing is another step towards feeling that. It gives fans, I think, an opportunity to either re-live it or see it for the first time in a way that's not a laptop screen."

Watch Josh Groban & Kelly Clarkson Perform 'Phantom of the Opera' Duet for PBS Special

Groban will still be singing Stages' songs but adding more of his older material for his summer On Stage Tour with Sarah McLachlan, which kicks off July 15 in New Orleans. "I've been a fan of Sarah's my whole career," he says. "She was kind enough to invite me on her stage when we did Live 8 together in Philadelphia; we got to sing the song 'Angel' together on that night and I've always wanted to sing with her again and share the stage with her again. She's one of those bucket list people, so it's going to be a really beautiful summer tour." As for doing some duets, Groban says, "That's my plan. I haven't formally asked her. I've got my fingers crossed she'll be OK with it. I definitely have been dying to blend our voices again, so if we're sharing 30 dates it may very well happen."

Groban will be revving up his acting career again this year with a role in the John Krasinski-directed film The Hollers and a cameo in the CBS comedy Life In Pieces. But his big move is his first appearance on Broadway, in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Dave Malloy's pop musical drawn from a segment of Tolstoy's epic War and Peace. Groban will be playing piano and accordion -- which he's been studying -- in addition to singing, and the former musical theater student, who first saw the show in a tent in New York's Meatpacking district, is geeked for his debut on the Great White Way during September.

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"It's very different than anything I've seen or heard on Broadway," Groban says. "The album (Stages) is a tribute to the kinds of shows and songs that got me into this world of music in the first place, but I've always felt in my heart that if I were going to actually do eight shows a week I'd want it to be with something that was a bit surprising and unusual. I didn't want to be the 50th Phantom of the Opera; I wanted to try something that maybe people wouldn't expect, and it's not every day you get offered something that's challenging like that. So I'm really looking forward to this."

A "Weird Al Yankovic fan since I was a kid," Groban has been practicing accordion every day, primarily working on the music from the show rather than becoming conversant with traditional accordion music. "There is some kind of polka-sounding music in the show, so I'm sure I'll be able to translate that into my future polka album," Groban says with a laugh. 

But he's not joking about making his eighth studio album, though he doesn't expect to have anything out until after he's done on Broadway in 2017. Nevertheless he's already back in the studio working on new material and planning to try a variety of material until he hits on a direction he wants to pursue.

"We're just starting to roll that boulder down the hill," Groban says. "There's some songs that we've collected over the last couple years and songs I'm in the middle of writing that are taking really great shape. The nice thing about doing a covers records is it gives you a chance to recharge a little bit. I spent four years crafting a record (2010's Illuminations) with Rick Rubin and another two and a half years writing songs with Rob Cavallo (for 2013's All That Echoes), and after those two albums I was kind of cooked. So doing Stages for me was kind of a time out, a chance to find that inspiration again of what it is I want to say, where I want to take whatever the hell genre I'm in into the future. That's been a huge luxury. Now I'm ready to sing a lot, find a lot (of songs), write a lot, and eventually if the muse is nice to you it starts to fit together like a really great puzzle and you have a story to tell. So I think it's going to be great."



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