Dawes: Minneapolis is our number one city
|Photo by Gabriela Lambert|
Taylor Goldsmith's life revolves entirely around music. His band, Dawes, has been on a small tour of independent record stores around the country, playing in-stores as part of a promotion for their highly anticipated third album, Stories Don't End. On Friday, they step things up as the supporting act for Bob Dylan's spring tour, and then, this summer, they begin their official national tour for Stories. They stop at First Avenue July 9-10. (Perhaps it's more accurate to say that Goldsmith's life -- and that of his bandmates -- revolves around the road.)
Stories Don't End, available for streaming here, is unlike its predecessors. No one will be able to call it a "Laurel Canyon sound" album, though it still can fit Dawes, somewhat roughly, in their tried-and-true Americana category. Stories draws heavily on storyline lyricism, the thing that Dawes has always done well and something that now, with tunes like "From A Window Seat," they are getting even better at. The 12-track album lives and breathes in sprawling guitars and easy melodies, with songs made for singing along to.
There's some kind of simple truth that Dawes has nailed down, like a badge they wear without pretension--maybe that's why Minneapolis loves them so much. Dawes might be from Los Angeles, but they have Midwestern hearts. Midway through their hour-long set at the Fetus, Goldsmith thanked the 250 fans that had come out.
"You guys are here because you decided to buy something without even hearing it," he said, beaming, his eyes scanning the sea of enthusiastic listeners. "It means the world. When people ask what your number one city is, it's not even... it doesn't even take a second."
For Goldsmith, the endless touring and the grinding schedule is unfazing; it's obvious that they enjoy every moment of what they do. Before the Dawes in-store performance at the Electric Fetus yesterday, Goldsmith could be found wandering the aisles, flipping through CDs alongside other shoppers. When he stops to give a short interview, he speaks rapidly, barely needing to think about his answers as he covers everything from the integrity of physical music to the new Dawes album to why it's so important to be on the road so much.
|Photo by Natalie Gallagher|
You guys are really big in Minneapolis, did you know that?
[Laughs] It's definitely our number one city. We have more records sold here, more tickets sold here for records, for shows, than anywhere else. We love it.
You've been playing in these small indie stores, doing these small record store gigs for a while now. Why is this important to you?
Well, it's a way to support record stores and obviously have them show us a good amount of love as well. We happen to have over half of our sales be physical, which doesn't really happen anymore. The vast majority of sales for bands are digital, so for us to have that is a really big deal. And not only do we want to say thanks, but we want to help support that, because obviously if someone's buying our record online that's great, but if someone's buying a physical copy, I just feel like that's so much more of a richer experience. At least it is for me. Even just something as simple as the back cover of a record. The way that a band ties all the artwork to the cover, because you buy something digital and all you see is the front.
I think there's a certain amount of ownership that goes along with something physically, it's something that you leave in your CD player. Sometimes I'll listen to a record on Spotify, and while I'll listen closely, I'll listen critically, I'll try to soak it in, I might not go back to it the way that I would have it I had it on CD. Even if I don't like it as much, I just tend to play it more and really try to live with it a little bit more. So I guess we're just trying to continue to support that experience. I think digital sales are going to continue to be great, they're going to be what they are no matter what.
I feel like there have been a lot of conversations lately where vinyl is the thing right now and CDs are kind of waning, they're in this weird category where they're sort of going out of popularity right now. Do you feel like you're leaning towards vinyl? Do you feel like it's an important conversation to have?
I feel like the same way that a physical copy is a richer experience, I feel like vinyl takes that a step further. Not only because of the artwork being bigger, and creating a richer experience, but more than that -- way more than that -- is the listening experience that it forces the listener to have, where you're listening to the album as an album. You're listening to a full side, and then you're changing it. When I listen to an album, I don't think, "Oh, I want to listen to that one song right now," even if it is that one song I'm craving or something, I'll put on that entire record because that's what I like to. And being on tour so much, it's pretty normal to have an extra 45 minutes to listen to a record, so I like doing that. And I think vinyl more than anything else affords that opportunity. And from what I understand, the vinyl business is a thriving business right now. It's coming up rather than falling off, and if that's where physical music were to go, that sounds awesome. As long as it sticks around.