Dawes is a band with a long and colorful history, and they just made a stop in Madison at the Barrymore Theatre Monday night. Touring for their fifth studio album We’re All Gonna Die has brought the band official tour dates all the way until June. But for them, it doesn’t end there.
In light of their recent Madison show, The Badger Herald got a chance to talk with Griffin Goldsmith, who spoke about their latest album, tour and creative processes.
The band consists of two brothers, Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, along with members Wylie Gelber and Lee Pardini. They have had a few different subtractions and additions to their lineup, most notably after a name change (the previous being Simon Dawes) and style switch. One of the band’s original members, Blake Mills, continues to be a part of their creative process, particularly on their latest album as well as 2013’s Stories Don’t End.
In their move from Simon Dawes to Dawes, their sound transitioned from more of a heavy indie rock sound, to a lighter folk rock sound. That was mostly due to personnel, Goldsmith said. Mills was a big part of the songwriting process with their former band, and their change in sound occurred because of that. With Dawes, they’ve had influences like Bob Dylan but are inspired by constantly changing tastes.
In comparing We’re All Gonna Die to their previous work, Goldsmith said there is no resounding theme or concept behind the album. Sonically, though, the band has tried to create music that listeners can easily identify as Dawes, even if it’s a song they’ve never heard before.
They also take a lot of pride in their live shows. That’s where We’re All Gonna Die differs most — they have tried to capture that live aspect onto this album. It’s where the band feels most comfortable, Goldsmith said. They spend a lot of time on stage, sometimes spending two years touring an album.
The energy they can cultivate on stage is really special to them, Goldsmith said. It’s a space where they can be more spontaneous. Now, Dawes is going to have a chance to do that for a while.
Personally, Goldsmith loves being on tour despite the sacrifices, he said.
“It’s an amazing job,” he said. “I’m into it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He hopes to extend the tour past June, possibly all the way to September or later. After that, the band hopes to create another album. That’s the idea of Dawes — to make an album, tour it and then go through the cycle all over again, Goldsmith said.
Imagine sharing a stage with your sibling. Those of us with siblings might not be able to handle being in a band with them. Butting heads sounds like it would be a regular occurrence. But that’s not the case for the Goldsmith brothers.
“It’s amazing,” Goldsmith said. “A lot of people assume that because we are brothers we don’t get along, but it’s actually quite the opposite.”
Taylor Goldsmith is the one who writes most of their music, Goldsmith said. He was part of the reason why there was such a shift in sound from Simon Dawes to Dawes. The arrangements he was making became much simpler.
The rest of the group tends to jump in to the writing process after Taylor Goldsmith writes the initial skeleton. He’ll send it out to the other bandmates, who then take their turns tweaking and adding. On the road, it is much more difficult for them to write due to constantly being around people.
From the first time they hear a song to when they hear the completed version, it could sound either the same or much different, Goldsmith said. The song can change after it goes through the recording and producing process.
Now they get to share their finished songs with us Madison folk. This wasn’t their first time here, and there is one thing in particular they were looking forward to.
“Cheese curds,” Goldsmith said. He then continued to say, “I really like it [in Madison.] It’s a cool little town.”
Well, we are glad to have had you, Dawes. If you weren’t able to catch them this time, fans can expect another album soon enough.