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- Posted on Mar 4th 2010 4:27AM by Dan Reilly
How did Dawes form?
I was a band with the bass player [Wyle Gelber] before this for about four years and that broke up three years ago. Then my brother [19-year-old Griffin] was always playing drums but was always in school. He was hanging out with us but never playing with us because he was so young, and so finally he got out of school and that's right when our band was breaking up. It worked out perfectly for him to join Dawes, and this is his first band. I was 21 when Dawes started, and we were just a trio for a while, writing songs and then we met [pianist] Tay Straithairn through mutual friends. He's no longer in our band. Then we met Alex Casnoff, who's currently our piano player.
The name Dawes comes from your grandfather, right?
Yeah, our grandfather is named Dawes Lafayette Goldsmith.
What made you decide to name it after him?
Well, it's a culmination of things. Partly because growing up he came from a world of music that he tried to show me, like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and stuff like that, that I never really understood. Then he passed away and as fate would have it, that ended up being the music I really started getting into.
Aside from those, who are your other influences?
It changes. Right now I've been listening to a lot of John Prine, Bonnie Prince Billy, Lucinda Williams, Warren Zevon, the Grateful Dead.
What's your key to survival at SXSW?
Just figuring out where we're going to park every day. I just give the keys to our wonderful, sweet tour manager and ask him to drive around the block. Mainly, we'll just make sure we get the right amount of sleep. This time we have a hotel room. Last time we just slept in the van or on the floor of a friend's house, so this time we're going to be a little more well-rested.
How would you describe your sound?
It's a pretty traditional approach. I'm not the kind of guy that's going to make wild crazy soundscape stuff like Radiohead or other bands in that vein. Sometimes I'm like, "Man, I hope it's not too cut and dry," but what I've always responded to is just the strength of a good song, you know?
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
One song I put on the other day that I'm very proud to admit was that song 'A Long December' by Counting Crows. I realize that they don't have the best reputation, but I put that song on and I was like, "Man, I don't care what people think about this. This is an amazing song."
Beatles or the Stones?
I'd say the Stones. I've always loved the Stones' ability to keep up and running. It's kind of a clichéd thing to say, but just the humanity of their career, like, "Wow, what a terribly-performed song or a half-assed written song." But the context of that is what makes their great stuff so unbelievable. The country thing that the Stones had, most English bands weren't able to get right.
What's your biggest vice?
We all like to cut loose. When they're giving us free beer, we're going to drink all of it, but some of the guys we've been out on tour with, the heavier drugs come out and people are staying up until two in the afternoon of the next day. That's when Dawes stops being able to jump on board. I probably should be saying opposite to try to look cool. I should say we're maniacs and we're not going to live for another month, so come see our band.
What's the craziest thing to happen to Dawes on the road?
We got stuck in the snow for two days in Kimball, Nebraska. The two motels there were across the street from each other and we walked into the first one and this Indian woman was trying to rip us off. She's like, "It's $140 for the room," when it was like a Super 8 and there's no reason it should be that expensive. She was like, "Don't go across the street to the motel because they're closed." We're like, "Oh, man, that sucks. Guess we're stuck paying a lot of money." So, we went across the street because it was next door to a diner and it turns out the motel was open. We went in there and they were like, "Our rooms are like $60," and we were like, "They told us across the street that you were closed." This old lady, she started really going off with these racial slurs and we were like, "Whoa. What decision do we make at this point? Do we stay with these terrible racists or do we go and let ourselves be ripped off?" We ended up going back and saying, "You guys are overcharging us, you lied, you said they were closed," and they were like. "OK, well, we'll charge you $50." We felt like it was a dishonest thing so we ended up going with the racist old lady, but she came over to the diner when we were back over there and she came up to us and apologized. She was like, "I don't want you guys to think I'm a racist." We were like, "OK, we don't." We also met a group of truckers that were really nice guys. We gave them all CDs.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
The first one, I can't remember. The one I get a lot of mixed reviews on, like whenever you're talking with friends about girls that you have a crush on, would be Hilary Swank. I think she's a beautiful person. Some people are just like "are you kidding?" Someone told me there's an episode of 'The Office' where everyone on the show is debating whether she's pretty or not. It's pretty funny.