Published on March 24th, 2012 | by Clara Cullen
Since releasing their sophomore album ‘Nothing Is Wrong’ Dawes have firmly planted themselves as the torch bearers for Californian folk-rock. The musical influences of Jackson Browne and Robbie Robertson (who both feature on the album) can be heard clearly in Nothing is Wrong’s homage to that sunset era. And, yes, while they are indebted to the Laurel Canyon songwriters, their richly melodic songs with soulful piano parts and soaring guitar solos will suit anyone not lucky enough to have witnessed Californian rock first time round. BlagSound caught up with Dawes before their Rough Trade East show to see exactly why everyone from The Independent to Spin Magazine have been raving about them.
1)You’re playing at Rough Trade tonight. Are you guys big vinyl fans?
Griffin: Yeah, I just recently got my record player set up again. I’ve been getting back into listening to records on vinyl.
Taylor: My first vinyl was Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when I was a little kid.
Wylie: My first vinyl was Night at The Opera which I stole from my dad.
2)You have a varied musical sound, as a result you’ve been able to tour with everyone from Alison Krauss to M Ward to Mumford and Sons. So how does the song writing process start out? Are you conscious of exploring different music genres while you’re writing the songs?
Taylor: I write the songs myself and then we arrange them as a band. We don’t try to make it sound old or vintage or new, we just kind of do what comes naturally to us when we play. So there’s no real conscious decision to sound a certain way. It starts out on an acoustic guitar, but when I play with the band I always play electric, so we’ll arrange it to suit the electric guitar.
3)There’s a really soulful edge to ‘Nothing Is Wrong’. Were there any particular albums you were listening to while writing the album?
Taylor: Yeah there was a lot of stuff. I was listening to the Warren Zevon albums and his whole catalogue quite a bit. I was listening to Lucinda Williams, Tom Petty…
4)You recorded ‘Nothing Is Wrong’ on analogue tape, a format where its got to be perfect first take. Why did you decide to record onto tape?
Taylor: We felt that that really dictated the performances, we kind of felt that if it was easier to edit that we’d have it a little more lax and it wouldn’t be as focused sounding. That’s just how it works for us atleast, so by doing it anolgue it just sounds really great. Now that’s not that you can’t get a record sounding great digitally, but it forced us to really hone in on our playing.
Griffin: Yeah with us playing live in the same room, it’s just so much better. We’ve done recordings in the past where we’ve tried doing bass tracks, or tracking drums isolated from the rest and it never sounded right. This way definitely creates a band vibe.
5)What’s the best blag you’ve ever got away with?
Taylor: We actually just played a 20th anniversary show for this great radio station called WXPN, and we were asked to come and be Robbie Robertsons’ backing band. The other artists were Lucinda Williams, Feist and Mumford and Sons. So we asked, you know if we could play some of our own songs and they said yeah. Eventually, Robbie actually got sick and so he had to cancel, so we blagged our way in! It was really funny to have these giant acts and us kinda like the 4th headliner haha!
6)What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you guys while on the road?
Griffin: We were driving down some freeway and Taylor was driving, then all of a sudden we swerved to the side of the road. We saw a car like tumbling down the middle of the divider and we were the first to see it. So we got out and ran up, and this car was like smashed up , things all out down the middle of the freeway, it was really bad. Then about 30 miles later Taylor was driving and like a little pomeranain dog was in the middle of the highway, in the like countryside, nowhere near anything!
Taylor: Yeah, I almost ended up hitting the little dog, but I didn’t! I don’t know why it was there.
7)What new music are you listening to that you’d recommend?
Tay: My friend called Blake Mills who’s a guitar player put out an amazing record called ‘Break Mirrors’
Taylor: I love the new feist album. My Morning Jacket are great too.
Dawes playing Time Spent In Los Angles on Letterman:
Dawes play T in The Park and Latitude festival this summer.
You can find out more information at:http://dawestheband.com/
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