Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes on Jackson Browne, Vinyl Records, and Middle Brother
While it's pretty easy to come across light alternative music these days, there's something that sets Dawes apart from the rest. Their sound is simple and basic, yet still maintains a soulful charm, not to mention they harmonize beautifully, in an almost Local Natives-like way.
Dawes open for Brett Dennen tonight at the Marquee Theatre.
We caught up with drummer Griffin Goldsmith to discuss collaborating with Jackson Browne, getting to play in the basement of The Band's legendary Big Pink, the band's mindset during the making of their new album, and frontman Taylor Goldsmith's supergroup side project, Middle Brother.
Up On The Sun: Your new album recently got released. What did making Nothing Is Wrong mean to you this time around, and how did it differ from the last one, North Hills?
Griffin Goldsmith: [There was] more pressure, or any pressure at all. We had a label behind us to work with us, so we were able to take more liberties. We kind of had it figured out before we even got in there. It was cool to be able to do something that we knew we had to do and wanted to do it.
UOTS: You guys got to work with Jackson Browne on this album. He did the backing vocals for the song "Fire Away." How did that collaboration come about?
GG: We were looking for a place to mix. He has a really awesome studio in Santa Monica. Our producer and him were friends, and he had shown interest in our band before that. We told him we were looking for a spot, and he said, "Oh, please come do it at my place."
UOTS: Dawes backed Robbie Robertson of The Band on some TV appearances. And you got to play in the basement of Big Pink. Your brother Taylor was particularly excited about that, but I'm sure the rest of you were, as well. Tell me about that experience.
GG: It was pretty surreal. It was pretty unbelievable that we could [meet him], let alone play with him. The Big Pink thing was totally unrelated from before, but it was also a dream come true.
UOTS: Dawes is booked for the first Dave Matthews Band Caravan in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It seems like it would be almost some sort of honor to get chosen to play one of his Caravan dates this year. How did that get coordinated?
GG: That's entirely our booking agent. We have a connection. We work with people who work with [other] people from Red Light and Dave and Coran Capshaw, [Dave's] manager. But I don't even know how that goes down. He might choose the bands himself. For us, it's kind of like our booking agent let us know that we're playing and he makes sure that we're there.
UOTS: You guys are offering a vinyl version of Nothing Is Wrong as part of your merch and music packages. Lots of artists are doing that nowadays. And then there's the growing popularity of Record Store Day. What do you think of the comeback of vinyl? Do you see it as a trendy movement, or as a genuine interest of music fans?
GG: Both. We know that there's still a group of people who [appreciate vinyl]. I have some friends who are music lovers who only listen to vinyl.
UOTS: Middle Brother, a supergroup made up of members from Deertick, Delta Spirit, and Dawes, released their first album in March. That's Taylor's side project. Back in December, I started noticing a trend of talented musicians forming supergroups. What do you guys think of this supergroup trend?
GG: No, people have been doing it forever. It depends where you're at. It's weird. There are established artists that tend to do their own thing. That could be a product of being curious and wanting to do something else. It's interesting how, depending on where you're at, how having these collaborative side records can affect your band differently.
UOTS: How does it affect you guys?
GG: Both good and bad. The idea of it was to get people in [to each band's shows] that didn't know Dawes or Deertick or Delta Spirit. Those are the people who want to come back to the Dawes shows. At the same time, we've seen reviews that are kind of just comparing it, and that's really not what it was meant for at all.
UOTS: Do you think there will ever be any more future Dawes-related supergroups?
GG: Probably not for a while. Maybe at some point down the line. It's hard to say. As of now, we've got the next year at least to tour this record. The idea is to make another one as soon as possible. So these are our main priorities. Dawes is first and foremost.
GG: We finish this tour in a couple weeks, and then we fly to New York to do Letterman. And then we go back to L.A. and we actually start rehearsing with Jackson Browne. We're going to Spain and London to do some shows with him to open up for him, and I'm really looking forward to that. From there it's Alison Krauss, and then we'll keep on doing what we're doing.
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