There are different kinds of success in music.
The obvious is the overnight sensation, where an artist with a hit single becomes the center of the pop world — for a while.
Who doesn’t want that, singer/songwriter Griffin House asked? Everybody does, but it’s not what everybody gets.
House, who performs Sunday on “Mountain Stage” at the Culture Center Theater, said, “It’s a long-term thing for me. Maybe I’m playing for 100 to 400 people a night, just trying to make it work, staying at it, plugging away.
“That’s sort of been my story. I just keep plugging away.”
Over the last 15 years, House has released about 11 albums, toured everywhere and built an audience, but actual stardom has eluded him.
“I think when I started, there were a lot of expectations that I was going to be a big, overnight success,” he said. “The story for me is that it’s been a long, slow rise.”
With a lot of struggles along the way.
House’s story, his career and his life on the road, are part of a new documentary film, “Rising Star,” due out later this year.
“It’s pretty raw,” he said. “We really talk about the hard parts of being a touring musicians. We weren’t shy about talking about the struggles.”
Not all of it is a financial struggle. Some of it is a struggle to be heard and known. He said it can be a little demoralizing to show up in one place and everyone knows who you are and then play another and you’re practically anonymous.
“You wonder how you fit in the world,” he said.
You keep going, anyway, he said. At least, House keeps going.
“I’m just a hard worker,” he said. “My dad owned a tire shop in Springfield, Ohio. I come from a sort of blue-collar background. So, I just get in the car and drive myself to where I need to be.”
House said his music has matured as he’s matured. He’s not a 23-year-old single guy, living alone, these days, but a family man with a wife and two kids at home in Nashville. He is also a recovering alcoholic.
“I’ve always just written about what’s going on in my immediate environment and what’s going on with me internally,” he said.
He just cares about different things.
Sobriety has its good days and bad days. Part of the struggle, he said, is being told there’s this one thing that he can’t have, this one thing he can’t do — and it can seem like a very small thing.
“It can seem very confining to me,” he said.
But he has to remind himself that drinking isn’t really that big of a deal for him. It’s just not important to him and it doesn’t solve anything for him.
Choosing sobriety changed him as an artist, but probably not in the way people would think.
“I think when I was drinking a lot, I was just in these manic cycles of playing hard and working hard,” he said.
A lifestyle of excess sometimes meant that he was very productive, but quitting drinking changed how he lived. He wasn’t as alone and the process of getting sober took a lot of energy.
“I spent so much time at it, it changed who I was,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of time left over to be creative — and that was frustrating.”
Being sober led to a family and new distractions, but he seemed fine with that.
“You’re just going to write a lot less when you’ve got a house full of family,” he said.
House hoped people came out to see him play, but hoped they also checked out the film.
“It’s so hard to get people excited about new records anymore,” he said. “There are just so many, but this movie is something special. I’m hoping it’s a good thing.”