The show is what happens between the songs, according to Richard Marx.

“I’ve started to have this connection with the audiences that come to see me where my goal every night is not simply to entertain them, but I want them to go home feeling like they spent time with me,” Marx said in a recent phone interview. “If I can make everybody laugh as much as I can get them to bob their head to the music, then I win, then we all win, and everybody goes home feeling great.”

The chart-topping singer-songwriter is set to perform a solo acoustic concert Monday at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre in Orem. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

SARAH HARRIS: What are your feelings about coming to Utah to perform this concert at the SCERA?

RICHARD MARX: I’ve been playing there I think since the very early days. … I’ve played there many times, and I’ve played the SCERA before, and yeah, it’s a beautiful place. It’s a beautiful part of the country, and I always have a great time when I’m playing in your state.

HARRIS: What are your plans for this show that you’ll be performing in Orem?

MARX: It’ll be 95 percent hits. It’ll be hits from the ‘80s, ‘90s and into the 2000s, and a couple of new songs. But primarily, I play the stuff that people know because I think that that’s also important to always remember and recognize that it’s all about the audience. … I’m happy to play that stuff every night, and I still have a blast with it.

HARRIS: Your songs like “Right Here Waiting” and “Now and Forever,” and also “To Where You Are,” which Josh Groban sang, have really heartfelt lyrics. How do you approach those songs in shows like this and where do you get your inspiration for songs like these?

MARX: The inspiration comes from various places. Those are all very different songs lyrically. I’ve found that I don’t shy away necessarily from singing songs in the show that are really emotional for me because that’s part of what brings people together, too, is we’ve all heard songs in our life that feel as though they were written for us personally. I’ve heard songs by other songwriters that really moved me, that made me feel like, “Wow, they were talking to me. They know exactly what I’m going through,” because we all to some degree share the human experience. And for instance, there’s a song I wrote years ago that was never on the radio, it was never a single, and it’s a song called, “Through My Veins,” and I wrote it a few years after my father passed away. I was really, really close to my father, and it took me a long time to even process the idea of being in the world without him. And so like 1 at night, 2 in the morning, this song just sort of wrote itself. It was very simple to write, and I wrote it for very selfish, personal reasons, but every time I’ve played that song, I can tell not only from the ovation that it gets, but sometimes I meet people after the show or whatever, and when an adult man will say, “That song wrecked me. That song made me cry,” it’s not like I’m trying to make people cry, but I do want to make people feel. And so on one hand, in one moment, I could be doing a song like “Satisfied,” which is this fun, up-tempo rock ‘n’ roll song where I’ve got people screaming along and dancing sometimes, and then in the next, five minutes later, I could be doing a song like “Through My Veins,” which is evoking somebody’s personal experience from my lyrics. So those songs are all written from a very selfish perspective, but it’s amazing when they touch other people as well. That’s kind of the whole point.

HARRIS: What has it been like for you to write hits for artists like Josh Groban, NSYNC, Luther Vandross and Keith Urban?

MARX: It’s been amazing. I’ve met and worked with some really, really amazingly talented people. I started writing songs with other artists when I was really young. Before I had a record deal, I was writing songs for other people and with other people, and then when I started making my own records, I wrote a majority of my songs that I sang by myself alone. I would co-write occasionally, but for the most part, I wrote those songs by myself. But I never stopped in between those projects co-writing with other people, and I was always lucky enough to have a pretty wide array of great people reach out to me and ask me to write songs for them, whether it be Luther, or the Josh song, I wrote for him with a friend of mine named Linda Thompson just as he was getting his record deal, so none of us knew really what was going to happen with Josh. I thought he was really talented, but the idea that some 20-year-old kid that sang opera would become a superstar was ridiculous. It was unlikely for sure, and then the next thing we knew, they used our song in an episode of a TV show back then called “Ally McBeal,” and it just got this tremendous response and it became Josh’s first hit that went to No. 1. And a similar thing with NSYNC. They were already big, but when I wrote “This I Promise You” for them, the timing was amazing and they had such a huge hit with it, and it was still in the middle of their praise, of the mayhem of their success. And then different genres like working with Luther or Keith Urban, it’s just been amazing. I certainly never get bored because on one week, I’ll write a song with a country artist, and then the following week, I’ll be writing with Chris Daughtry or some rock band. It’s cool. It never gets boring. That’s for sure.

HARRIS: What’s on the horizon for you as an artist? You’re coming out with a new album, so maybe you could talk about that and your plans for the future.

MARX: I’m not 100 percent sold on what we’re going to call the album yet because I still have another week or so to procrastinate on that, but it’ll be out probably in October or November. We have a single out that just came out a week ago or so called “Another One Down” that is the first single, and I’m really, really not only proud of it, but I’m excited about it because it’s a song I wrote with my son, Lucas, and all three of my sons are incredible singer-songwriter and musicians. … He’s one of those guys that is in L.A. and he writes songs pretty much every day with different people, and he’s had a lot of songs recorded, but he’s yet to have a solid hit yet as a songwriter. But I just really respect how he’s working so hard and slugging it out, and every time he would play me a new song, I was so impressed. Separate and apart from me loving him as my son, I became a fan of his. … And so I said, “If you’re ever up for it, I’ll come over to your apartment and we’ll see if we can write a song for me for this new record,” and we wrote this song in like 45 minutes. And he’s also a really great producer. When I would produce, I would go into a studio with musicians and cut tracks, and most of pop music now is made in a computer. And Lucas is really a great modern producer, so he put the track together in a matter of a couple hours. And everybody across the board that heard the song loved it, so it’s our new single. And I’m thinking about probably shooting a video for it, but we’re just putting out the single right now and the album will be out in the fall. We’ll keep putting out tracks from it and just keep working it because I’m really, really proud of it. It’s one of my favorite albums I’ve ever made.

HARRIS: Anything else you would say about what you hope fans will take away from this show in Utah?

MARX: I just want them to have fun. That’s the only reason I ever get onstage is just for people to go home feeling like they had fun and it was worth the drive and worth the parking fee and paying a babysitter or whatever. For me, every time I walk offstage, I want to feel like people are leaving the venue happy and that they feel like it was worth the trip, so that’s what I’m after.

Features Reporter

Sarah Harris writes about arts and entertainment for the Daily Herald.

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