Stardom was the last thing that shy, reclusive Adam Young was expecting when — as Owl City — he began composing catchy synthpop ditties in his parents’ basement in tiny, Minn.
But two years ago, his sugary “Fireflies” single caught on in a big way, hitting No. 1 in 24 countries and propelling its parent “Ocean Eyes” album past platinum status.
“So when this all happened to me, I didn’t really want it, per se,” says the wispy-throated singer, who reluctantly began touring the world. “I was the wrong guy for the part, in a way — I’m an introverted only child from nowhere, Minnesota, who’d never been on an airplane, never done anything of any importance. So I just hung on for dear life.”
Young hit the road a wide-eyed naif. He returned a seasoned, well-cultured trouper. And along the way, he composed an entire follow-up album about his experiences, the new James Herriott-inspired “All Things Bright And Beautiful.” Its tour hits San Francisco next Tuesday.
“My parents and I had never done any crazy vacationing things, so just going to Honolulu was stunning for me,” says the former innocent abroad. Paris. London. Sydney. The Great Wall Of China. “Everywhere on the map was somewhere new, someplace I thought I’d never see.”
Much of it was a shock to Young’s delicate system. Such as playing Japan, where the audiences applauded for only five polite seconds after each song; he wasn’t sure they even liked Owl City at first. Then there was the Gothic cathedral he visited in Cologne, Germany.
“There were a billion stairs to this amazing architectural wonder,” he says. “But at the very top, this tourist girl’s phone went off and her ringtone was ‘Fireflies.’ It was the last place in the world I ever thought I would hear my own silly voice.”
Naturally, “All Things” turned out part travelogue (“The Real World,” “The Yacht Club,” a duet with Canadian synth kitten LIGHTS), while retaining “Fireflies”’ charming sense of backyard wonder (“Plant Life,” “Alligator Sky”). Some even describe a great romance.
“But written from the imagination,” he says, humbly. “I’ve only dated two or three girls, so I don’t have a lot to draw from.”
But working as Owl City — on projects such as “To The Sky,” the theme song for Zack Snyder’s gorgeous film “Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole” — sure beats Young’s last gig.
“I wake up and think ‘How is this possible? I don’t have to put on my work clothes and load trucks at the Coca-Cola warehouse today?’” he says. “It’s just surreal.”
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: The Warfield, 982 Market St., San Francisco
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com