By: Dawn Duncan
Dawes rose to fame fast, or so it seemed to the general observer. The band may feel differently as there are few “quick roads” in the music industry these days. However, the foursome, hailing from Los Angeles, have enjoyed a pleasant ride, gaining media attention, fans, and accolade along the way. With their September 2016 album release, We’re All Gonna Die, (produced by Blake Mills and through the label HUB Records II LLC), Dawes has continued to tour extensively and headline shows worldwide, including major festivals (Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, and Newport Folk Festival). Most recently, the band has toured with My Morning Jacket, Bob Dylan, Mumford & Songs, Conor Oberst, and Jackson Browne and have upcoming dates with John Mayer, Kings of Leon, and Willie Nelson. In July, Northern Colorado will play host to Dawes as they grace the Mishawaka stage, presented by The Colorado Sound. I caught up by phone with lead singer and guitarist, Taylor Goldsmith, to get a real time update on this fast-moving band.
Scene: Tell us about your most recent release. What themes and ideas are you focused on with this album and how has your song and messaged evolved?
Goldsmith: Artists usually attack an album with a mission statement, a focus in mind. Many bands we follow like Pink Floyd and Father John Misty have done this, for instance. But there is another camp, along the lines of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen (also some of our heroes), where they let the music just tell them what the overarching theme will be, song by song. So I personally just have my songs represent a particular time in my life, but without a really definitive or certain outlook in mind.
We ask ourselves, ‘what haven’t we done before? What haven’t we tried?’ and go from there. We like to explore and then figure out ways to present the songs.
Scene: Tell me about what inspires the band at this point.
Goldsmith: Our heroes — the musicians who inspire us — are ones who continue to show a lifelong commitment to this work. For us, this new album is our fifth, but we think we’re just getting started. We’re at the beginning. We always think about getting back to the studio, recording new material, but we love to be on stage, tour, and promote our songs. We really like working as much and as hard as we can.
We think about people like Woody Allen, who put out a new film every year for 40 years. That’s inspiring. People like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson; they have so much material and just never stop creating.
Scene: As a band grows and expands its fan reach, the fan base also evolves. What do you see when you look out from the stage? Who is following you?
Goldsmith: I think we can fall into “dad rock” in addition to a lot of other categories. I like that about our fan base. The more I do this work, the more I shed the notion of caring what other people think. I remember when Stephen Colbert was interviewed by the New York Times a while back. He talked about standing on stage and finding himself in vulnerable moments; identifying what’s truly the most embarrassing to him and then viewing that emotion as a sign to keep going and talking about that subject, to keep going in the direction that makes him uncomfortable. I do that now, too. I like how unafraid I feel. I used to feel insecure and a bit threatened at times, but now I have a comfort level that is exciting.
Dawes is by no means the “cool band.” But, I do like when a person or a group fearlessly communicates to just be themselves. That, to me and to us is “cool.” So that’s what we follow. Just be ourselves and showcase four personalities (not just one), making it a priority to feature each member of the band.
Dawes consists of Taylor Goldsmith (guitar, vocals), Wylie Gelber (bass), Griffin Goldsmith (drums, vocals, percussion) and Lee Pardini (keyboards, vocals). Check out their new album, We’re All Gonna Die, on iTunes. The band recently appeared on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” to perform their latest single, “Roll With The Punches.” The band was on “Conan” in late May and also a guest on Andrew Bird’s Live from the Great Room Facebook Live performance series, where Dawes and Bird performed songs from both their respective catalogues.
Catch Dawes LIVE at Mishawaka on July 23: themishawaka.com for tickets (Doors at 6 p.m., Show at 8 p.m. Presented by The Colorado Sound. $25 GA, $40 VIP).