Why Dawes’ New Album Is An Exercise, It’s Not Checking Boxes
“I’d probably be a better singer in a rock band if I could stop smiling so much on stage,” jokes Taylor Goldsmith.
This summer, you can’t blame the affable leader of the Dawes for smiling. He and his wife Mandy Moore are expecting their second child, and he will be touring behind Dawes’ eighth album, Doomscroller Misadventures.
Although more adventurous prog than their previous records, it still carries what Goldsmith calls “Dawes DNA” – a guitar-driven California breeze that cuts through philosophical lyrics. We caught up with him to discuss everything from progressive jazz to fatherhood.
What was your vision for the new record?
On our last album, the songs were three minutes long. Tight, clear and concise – all the usual boxes checked. This time I thought I was done checking those boxes. I don’t really care about short attention span or how long a song is.
Were there any inspirations behind this new approach?
I became obsessed with Speak no evil by [jazz saxophonist] Wayne Shorter. While we were recording these rock songs, I was immersed in more jazzy things – Miles [Davis] and Herbie [Hancock]. All those records that really take their time. Pink Floyd too. When Shine on your mad diamond goes to the third solo before the vocals even start, you know these guys are doing it on their terms. We thought, “Let’s make this our guiding principle.
Has having your first child affected your outlook in any way?
A friend who is a new dad said, “It doesn’t change what’s important, it changes why it’s important.” I still have plans to make records and perform, but before that I was hooked on a sixteen-year-old’s sense of heritage. To some degree, if you think you have something to say in front of ten thousand people, you have a certain amount of narcissism. [laughs]. But now, with my son out in the world, it’s paramount that he grows up seeing that his father did what he wanted on his terms.
When Dawes toured with Bob Dylan, did you and him ever talk shop?
He doesn’t hang out with openers, but I met him on the last day. He said, “Hey, great to have you guys. What’s the name of the last ballad you played?” I told him, and he said, “Great song.” tried to shake his hand. He said, “Why not just throw a fist?” Later he did an interview and was asked about the Basement strips project with blankets [of Dylan songs] by Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith… and he said, “Oh, Taylor Swift played my songs? [laughs].
You were born and raised in Los Angeles. Are you still starstruck?
I think people here can have this attitude, “I’ve seen too much and I’m not impressed.” But I was never able to shake the fanboy. When Mandy takes me to the Emmys, I’m like, “Look, this is it!” [laughs].
What’s next for you?
We have another child coming. I’m excited for this summer tour. We’re headlining with The Head And The Heart and we’re going to a lot of cities we don’t usually go to. And I already have fifteen songs written for our next record. It’s a totally different sound.
Misadventures Of Doomscroller is now available. Dawes is currently on tour in the United States (opens in a new tab).