Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith makes his second appearance on Walking the Floor. While his previous conversation with podcast host Chris Shiflett focused on the band’s history, today’s episode dives deeper into Dawes’ busy present, touching upon everything from the group’s recent tour dates with ELO to the political themes that underscore their newest album, Passwords. Along the way, Goldsmith speaks articulately and open-mindedly, shining some light on the very qualities that make his songwriting so compelling.
Here are five highlights from the new episode.
Dawes has been touring with ELO this month, sharing a string of cross-country arena dates. Even so, frontman Jeff Lynne remains a mystery to Goldsmith, who had yet to meet the iconic songwriter (and exacting producer) at the time of this recording.
“This might just be a rumor,” Goldsmith tells Shiflett, “but I’ve heard that [Lynne] even [records] one drum at a time, to get such a specific sound. So when you hear this whole drum kit, it’s really a track of high hat and a track of snare drum, just so he can have all the control.”
Back in 2009, Dawes recorded their debut album with a relatively unknown producer named Jonathan Wilson. They recorded the band’s follow-up album together, as well. This year’s Passwords brings them back together.
“We just did [From the North Hills] in his living room,” says Goldsmith, remembering those early recording sessions. “I was standing in the kitchen, overlooking the shelf toward the drums in the living room. It was really scrappy … [and] it changed our lives. With our second record, the fidelity was stepping up for him and we were getting a little bit better. There’s a scrappiness to our first record that I love, but we all kind of grew beyond that together.” Things changed in 2012, when the band began working with an outside producer — Kings of Leon collaborator Jaquire King — for the first time ever. “We started with producers,” Goldsmith adds, “because it just felt like that’s what you do. But now, having done that three times, we were like, ‘You know what we miss? What Jonathan Wilson contributed to the identity of Dawes.'” Released this year, Passwords finds the band reuniting with the producer who helped them discover their career-launching sound.
Although they’ve had nine Top 40 hits on the Triple A chart, Dawes’ members are growing less and less concerned with securing radio airplay.
“When we’re in the studio and we’re wondering, ‘Will this be the lead single or will that be the lead single?” and then we all get in our car and hear the hit single from Portugal. The Man, it becomes really clear really quick, like, ‘Oh, we’re not playing the same sport at all,'” Goldsmith explains. “We’re talking about tee-ball, and these guys are the NBA all-stars, in terms of what their goals are. It’s not scary. It’s freeing. We don’t have to worry about it the same way.”
Meanwhile, the guys are proud to fly the flag of rock & roll … even if the genre is becoming less and less popular in the mainstream.
“I don’t mean to be a defeatist, but you can make the case that rock & roll is kind of going the way of jazz,” the sings adds. “And I’m cool with that.” Why? Because the genre is still thriving, championed by torch-bearing bands and dedicated audiophiles who don’t give a damn about rock & roll’s mainstream bona fides. “If you give a shit about [rock music] — if you like guitar solos, if you like guitar tone, if you like a drummer without a click — then there’s a home for you,” Goldsmith says. “There’s a world of music for you to listen to.”
Taylor Goldsmith doesn’t think he’s cool.
“[Rock & roll] has become for the nerds, and I’m one of them,” he says proudly.