City Slickers: California Dreaming with Dawes
"The best rock 'n' roll is never preconceived," says Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith. This is hard to swallow coming from a guy whose handsome band hails from Los Angeles, one of the most prefabricated cities on Earth. The follow-up to their acclaimed debut North Hills, however, assuages any suspicion that Dawes is a two-bit Uncle Tupelo hack-pack in overpriced flannel. These guys have made a solid Americana record that could rank alongside Ryan Adam’s "Heartbreaker" and Wilco’s "A.M." With golden harmonies and gut-kicking lyrics, Goldsmith and company balance ballads with barn burners on the aptly named Nothing Is Wrong. You see, there's life beyond the Bentleys and beautiful blondes of Hollywood where everything is just perfect.
The Hook: Do you care about how critics react to Nothing Is Wrong?
Taylor Goldsmith: I don't mind if people don’t like the music. People that don't like it tend to think that it's not new or original enough. It’s not reinventing the wheel, it's making expressive pieces of work that help people through experiences.
The Hook: You've said before that you guys are an L.A band that "romanticizes the country lifestyle," right?
Taylor Goldsmith: We are going a mile a minute. It's great and puts a smile on my face, but it's constant. There are few minutes where we get to sit back and have nothing to do, so it becomes something that we pine for when we look at cities like Asheville, NC. You say to yourself, "that's what I want right now."
The Hook: People don’t typically associate L.A. with "authenticity."
Taylor Goldsmith: It’s a fascinating place and one of the most major cities in the world, but so much easy-going, calm music comes out of it. For example, Neil Young, Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell created music that came out of the canyons around here. People think of Hollywood and Sunset Strip. That couldn't be further from the life I live in L.A. I hate that world. There's an artistic community that is very rich and competitive in a healthy way.
The Hook: You were exposed to both country music and that Laurel Canyon folk-rock by your grandfather, whom the band is named after. What would he say about your recent success?
Taylor Goldsmith: It wouldn't be something he'd pop on and listen to regularly. He'd be proud of us and the more traditional aspects of it, though.
The Hook: A lot of your lyrics are quite poignant; one recent review used the phrase "emo, in a grown-up way."
Taylor Goldsmith: [Laughs] That's funny. That makes me think of people with dyed black hair in their eyes. I wouldn’t associate myself with the emo asthetic, but I don’t mind. If I’m writing about emotions, I want to dig deep and show what inspired them. I love it when I read or hear a writer who gets into how the way a person moves their hand might be a reflection of what's going on emotionally. I think if people look at Dawes like that it would be something I would appreciate.
Dawes opens for Alison Krauss at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion on Saturday 7/30 at 7pm. It's sold out!