It’s no surprise that Americana band Dawes are itching to return to their roots. After a year of festivals, touring, and writing new music, who wouldn’t want to head home? Dawes return to California for their latest tour, stopping at a host of intimate venues along the way. The band will be hitting up SOhO in Santa Barbara this week and playing brand-new songs in honor of the New Noise Music Festival. We caught up with drummer Griffin Goldsmith to discuss genre, new music, and California.
The Golden State seems to have been a major influence on your band — there are lots of songs referencing Los Angeles on your albums, and it’s the only state you’ll be hitting on this tour. Why does California hold such special significance for you? We’re from here, so I think it’s inevitable that where you’re from is gonna influence your music. There’s a very rich musical climate out here. California is a big part of our lives. I don’t think we’ve ever tried to represent California music or Los Angeles music, but that’s just how it’s come out. My brother and I were born and raised in L.A., and it was awesome! We grew up mainly in Malibu. It’s nothing like L.A. — it’s a very small town with a small-town mentality. It wasn’t until high school that I really started to explore different parts of Los Angeles. It’s such a gigantic city that there are still parts of it that I’m not very familiar with. I don’t know if I was really aware of it all when I was growing up. Musically it just seemed like a microcosm of what’s happening at large in the world.
So when did you guys get into playing music? My brother [frontman Taylor Goldsmith] and bass player Wylie [Gelber] were in a band together in high school. I was too young to play with them — I think I was about 12 or 13. Most of my musical experiences when I was young were hearing them play. I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. I learned piano when I was about 10, and I got my first drum set when I was 13.
You guys are exclusively playing intimate California shows on this tour. Why is that? The purpose of this little run that we’re doing right now is that we’re trying to do some preproduction. Dave Rawlings, who is gonna produce our next record, is out on tour with us right now. We’re playing little venues in cities around California and trying to play as much new material as possible because we’re going into the studio in November to make a record.
Will this new album sound anything like your last, Stories Don’t End, or are you trying something totally different this time around? The evolution of our sound has always been a natural progression for us. Our tastes and the way we play are always evolving and changing. We’re listening to different stuff now than we were then, and I’m sure that will continue to be the case in our records to come. I don’t think our music is very genre-specific, though.
You guys have been classified as everything from alternative to bluegrass. Why do you think classifying genres for bands has been so erratic lately? I think people categorize music into genres in order to relate to it. I’ve heard people say that we’re Americana or folk, but I’ve always chosen the overarching genre, which to me is rock ’n’ roll. But if I like a record, I like a record. I don’t need to put it into a box of an arbitrary category. Everybody is influenced by everybody else, and that doesn’t bum me out. On the contrary, I get excited about it.
Dawes plays SOhO Restaurant and Music Club (1221 State St.) on Thursday, October 16, at 7 p.m. Visit newnoisesb.com for info.