Jan. 20 | 8 p.m. | $25-$35
MontBleu Resort Casino | Stateline, Nev.
I caught Dawes’ drummer Griffin Goldsmith fresh off a recording session with Dave Rawlings Machine in Nashville, Tenn., on his way back to his native Los Angeles.
“It went really well,” Goldsmith says of the session. “It was over a lot more quickly than I expected.”
That sense of time moving quickly is a recent theme for Dawes, which released their second album in little more than a year in September. “We’re All Gonna Die” has so far been supported by a smattering of dates across the U.S. and the U.K.; now the indie, folk rock band is set to embark on a 50-date North American tour called, “An Evening with Dawes.”
Goldsmith spoke about the recording process at the famed EastWest Studios on Sunset Boulevard, the birthplace of classic albums such as The Beach Boy’s “Pet Sounds” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
“It was awesome, man,” he says. “Relatively easy and really fun.”
The new album presents somewhat of a departure from Dawes’ roots rock sound in favor of an indie-Motown, neo-soul vibe uncannily at peace with its oracular title. The new sound was influenced by Grammy-nominated producer Blake Mills, longtime band friend and founding member of the prototype group, Simon Dawes, which took its name from both his and Goldsmith’s brother guitarist/songwriter Taylor’s middle names.
“It’s continued to be an uphill trajectory as opposed to an artist that comes out the gates with a huge hit and then doesn’t know how to follow it up.” – Griffin Goldsmith
“The songs were definitely a completely different batch than before,” says Goldsmith. “I think the biggest thing was working with Blake. He’s very responsible for the way the record sounds. He has a very specific way he does things that changes depending on the artist he is working with. But we all kind of formed our musical influences around the same time so we get along really well in the studio.”
“We’re All Gonna Die” is plainly more progressive and beat-forward than previous Dawes’ records; there’s a clear emphasis on space, texture, rhythm and percussion. Goldsmith insists that the freer range of sound grew from the approach of beginning each recording with a focus on the “feel” of the songs as originally composed by his brother Taylor
“We were trying to get back to inspiration of what it was when he wrote it,” he says. “Wherever your head was at is very indicative of how the song’s supposed to sound. And oftentimes those rhythmic things are very subtle. For us, we’d get in the tracking room and start with Taylor on the acoustic guitar or piano depending on how he first composed the tune. We’d start there and try to do stuff that worked.”
This soulful methodology opened up room for Goldsmith to experiment more fully with his drum sounds and the prominence of his contributions are fully apparent in the album mix.
“My intention is always definitely how to best serve the tune,” he says. “But on some of these songs, there’s a little more room for stuff happening and more wild sounds. I’d worked with Blake a lot before and knew what to expect. I got to bring all my gear, which was a lot, in order to figure out what was sounding best. There was even one sound where we used a Pelican drum case as a kick drum on a couple songs.”
Nearly a decade into their career, Dawes continues to gain renown for their musicality and songwriting. It’s the slow, steady ascent that keeps the men motivated about the possibilities of the future.
“In a way we want to be playing the arenas like any band would, but in a way this is kind of what’s kept us around and excited about things,” says Goldsmith. “It’s continued to be an uphill trajectory as opposed to an artist that comes out the gates with a huge hit and then doesn’t know how to follow it up. We’ve slowly gathered a really awesome devoted fan base and more of them come out every year. We are doing venues we’ve never done before and to still to be in that position after eight years of touring is pretty cool.” | montbleuresort.com