Ross Grant was born the son of a physician and a musical theater actress. When he was 7 years old, his folk-singer aunt taught him a few guitar chords. By the time he was 11, he was practicing eight hours a day after school. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he remembers.
His freshman year of high school, Ross was playing in clubs and at festivals all over the San Francisco Bay Area. Four years later, he had a full scholarship to UCLA, where he studied music, co-founded a popular band called Pseudopod, and graduated summa cum laude. Then, as part of the prize for winning Rolling Stone magazine’s “Best College Band” contest, Pseudopod signed with Interscope Records. At 21, Ross had his first record deal.
After Pseudopod’s lead singer, Kevin Carlberg, was diagnosed with brain cancer—he died in 2009—Ross spent his twenties touring with Jem, as her guitarist and musical director, and working as a session musician for Marc Broussard, Breakestra, Allen Stone, and other major-label artists. He performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, on BBC’s Top of the Pops, and at top-level festivals and venues, including Coachella, Glastonbury, Red Rocks, and The Gorge.
Meanwhile, moved by Kevin’s cancer journey, Ross got a medical degree from UCSF. In addition to his active music career, he is a full-time physician who cares for hospitalized patients with very serious conditions, including heart failure, stroke, cancer complications, and suicide attempts. He has worked in HIV clinics in Uganda and helped launch a nonprofit called Rockin For Kids, to bring musical programs to children’s hospitals. He also volunteered his talents as a composer for Our House, a grief support group, as well as Phase One, a charity that raises money for cancer research.
All the while, Ross was writing songs. Inspired by an initial obsession with rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Guns N’ Roses, and then jazz legends like Miles Davis and Bill Evans, he composed his first piece at 11 years old and never stopped. During medical school, though Ross still wrote music every day, he was too busy to record his compositions.
When Ross finished his residency, he finally had the time to “get these ideas that had been bouncing around in my head out into the world.” The result is his evocative new album, “I’ll Tell You Later.”
Over seven tracks, Ross refined the concepts that he’d been toying with over the previous eight years into songs that are, by turn, ethereal and pensive, confident and energetic, heartfelt and complex. Each of them is tied to experiences Ross had during his medical school and residency years, including relationship highs and lows, and the life-and-death drama he sees daily. (“Music balances me out,” Ross says. “I’ve always felt a need to create, a desire to leave something behind.”)
“I’ll Tell You Later” was also a way for Ross to get what he calls “my amazingly talented friends” together on one record, including Zac Rae of Death Cab for Cutie, Tommy King of Maroon 5 and Haim, and Lamar Carter, who plays drums for John Legend.
Though the project allowed him to collaborate with many musicians whom he deeply respects, Ross calls the album “the first thing I’ve put out that’s all me.”