A Chicago native who studied music at the University of Southern California, Ross Golan has worked with many of music’s biggest artists. His credits include Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Michael Bublé, Keith Urban, One Direction, Idina Menzel, and Linkin Park. Ross has also had multiple record deals as an artist, and is the writer of Ovation Award-winning musical The Wrong Man, which will soon be recorded and released by Interscope Records.
Those credits would be enough for most artists, but Ross is also the host of the And The Writer Is podcast. Launched in January, And The Writer Is — as produced by fellow hitmaker Joe London (Thomas Rhett, Jason Derulo, Pitbull) — features exclusive conversations with other notable songwriters. The first episode, for example, featured Benny Blanco, as known for his work on Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t,” Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” In turn, listeners get to hear great creative minds talking shop and plenty more.
How did you wind up in the co-writing game? When did you realize it exists?
Ross Golan: There are two kinds of songwriters — the ones that were artists and the ones that want to be artists. Both Joe and I were in bands. We had been collaborating with other musicians for years but you get in the game when someone introduces you to the game. For me, it was Evan Bogart and Ryan Tedder. Evan, who wrote “SOS” for Rihanna and “Halo” for Beyoncé, was my booking agent and Ryan, lead singer of OneRepublic, and I played shows around L.A. While I was handing out CDs at shows one club at a time, their songs were getting played around the world. Songs tour faster.
What was your first cut that had you excited?
RG: I co-wrote a song called “Here Comes Trouble” for the band Honor Society. They were opening for the Jonas Brothers during their prime arena days. They named their headlining tour Here Comes Trouble. That was like getting called up to the pros from the minors and pinch hitting a single. In itself, it didn’t move the needle much. But it assured me that with enough at bats, I might be able to hit one out.
When it comes to songwriting, do you treat it like a day job where you can do it anytime? Or do you need to feel inspired?
RG: Amateurs look for inspiration. If you’re an artist, you can do whatever you want. But if you want to be a professional writer, act like one.
How many songs a month do you write on average?
RG: Depends on the month. Anywhere from one to twenty. But never zero.
What was the impetus for this podcast? Has there been a highlight for you so far?
RG: I have a book that everyone signs at the end of a session. It’s basically my yearbook. It has signatures from Bon Jovi to Michael Buble and Lamont Dozier to Max Martin. These people are fascinating. What are the odds that a kid from the north suburbs of Chicago would end up in a room with them? I suppose that’s the question I’m trying to answer. So, in that sense, all of the interviews are highlights.
Podcast aside, what’s coming up for you career-wise?
RG: The Wrong Man, my musical, signed to Interscope at the end of last year. We’ll be recording it this summer. That’s a 15-year project that keeps on ticking.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
RG: I’m a husband. I have a pug. I play ice hockey and golf. I eat. I drink. I feel like there’s a concept in all that.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
RG: Morimoto, if you’re paying.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
RG: The ONLY thing in the music industry that matters is a hit song. You get that, and all of the other things will follow.