| June 6, 2011
Interview: Dawes

Dawes is the definition of Americana music. They released their album North Hills in June of 2009 to critical acclaim. They’ve seemingly been on the road ever since. They release Nothing Is Wrong via ATO Records tomorrow. You can catch the band this weekend playing Wolf Trap w/ Bright Eyes. ATG’s David Turner recently caught up with lead singer Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes via email to ask a few questions covering recording, touring and MacGyver

I love the way you record on tape, but that process seems like it might produce a different sound than you play live. Do you alter the way you play live to match your recordings?
We don’t change anything for our live set other than maybe taking more liberties. I think that our priority with making our records is the song and I think our priority with playing a show is the energy and performance.

STREAM: Dawes – “Time Spent In Los Angeles”

Read the rest of the interview after the jump.


Your drummer, Griffin, mentions in the Daytrotter webisode that you recorded these newer tracks with the live show in mind, were they written with that energy in mind as well?
For the most part, none of these songs were written with the live performance in mind. Most were written to a finger picked acoustic part or some simple piano part. We didn’t start thinking about the live performance until we started arranging each song. The outro of ‘Fire Away’ was the only thing I thought ‘this might work nicely live’ as I was writing it.

You are often described as carrying on the tradition of the vintage California rock sound. Does this add any pressure to stay within the barriers of that genre?
No. In fact it challenges to make sure we step out of that and show listeners we have a lot more to offer rather than being purveyors of a genre. We don’t conceptualize our material and really stay conscious of letting it come out naturally. This is how it comes out naturally now and maybe later it will be very different. But hopefully it’ll always maintain some sort of identity for people to recognize us by.

In what ways has the music scene around L.A. changed in the last few years? Have bands become more supportive of each other?
It’s definitely changed for us the longer we’ve played and gotten to know more bands. But it seems the changing had more to do with us than any “scene” in la. There’s a lot of support for bands in LA. Typically, groups that are coming from the same place stylistically tend to be the most supportive of each other, but there’s definitely no bad energy between any bands in la that we’re aware of.

Taylor, did you get any songwriting tips from Jackson Browne? How did that collaboration come about?
We met Jackson Browne through our producer Jonathan Wilson, who’s been friends with him for a while. Jackson hasn’t given me any specific tips on writing yet, but other than my father, Jackson has taught me how to write songs through his own material more than just about anyone else. 

Spinner described bassist Wylie Gelber as using the “MacGyver Method” to fix instruments. What’s the most unusual fix he’s needed to make?
It hasn’t been that much unusual stuff I guess, but Wylie has replaced all my tubes, built my pedal board, built all of our chords, fixed Tay’s broken sustain pedal, fixed his own bass, added handles to Tay’s amp, built a tambourine for Griffin and replaced all the metal in my amp holding everything in place, making it more road ready. He has two huge boxes of tools with him on every tour we go on. We’re lucky to have someone so good at all that in the band.