Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes on doomscrolling ahead of their gig at Liberty Hall on April 16
Dawes is one of those acts that sneaks up on you. What initially caught many of us at The Pitch with a chilled party anthem about replacing tequila with champagne eventually blossomed into a fandom for a group always exploring, evolving, and expanding—both in scale/scope but also in literal player count and track length.
Ahead of the jam-adjacent group’s visit to Lawrence this week, Taylor Goldsmith [guitarist/primary vocalist] let us know that their touring format has pivoted to allow Dawes to take the stage all evening, as well as chatting with us about their pandemic album Misadventures of Doomscroller, and taking room to breathe.
The Pitch: For your “An Evening With” tour, what’s the setup that people should expect?
Taylor Goldsmith: It’s a couple of full sets. We’ll start one acoustic or take one in a different direction… the show is always supposed to start around 8 p.m. but you know, inevitably, people aren’t in yet because the lines are too long at security, and then we get started around 8:10 p.m. and basically just keep going until 11 p.m, minus a break or so in between. It’s ideal for us because we’ve got eight albums now, and with a show that long we can touch on all parts of our career.
What’s the longest song in your set, with this new focus on breathing room?
“Peace in the Valley” will sometimes hit 15 minutes or so. “Someone Else’s Cafe” is easily 10. That’s one of the traditional longer ones.
Do you feel with the release of Misadventures of Doomscroller you’ve altered the audience’s perception of what to expect from a show like yours?
A career shapes the identity of a band, and you know, some bands—because they get a bunch of love with streaming and syncs and stuff—they become more like a studio rat paradigm, where they’re always in the studio, and they’re able to explore that space more. And for us, it’s like, we’ve never had that. If we were going to make a career out of things, it was how to stay on the road. And that kind of led us to try to make the most of the show and make the most of us on the stage for the live version of a song. I think that that kind of happened naturally.
We are reacting to an audience that is reacting to us reacting to them, you know?
By the nature of the themes and such on Doomscroller, I know that’s probably very much a pandemic record.
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of pandemic stuff wrapped up in it—maybe a little more indirectly. I don’t want to write about it super directly, because I feel like that kind of gives up some shelf life. But it’s definitely dealing with that experience. I also think it’s like kind of a tribute to playing live. I think the reason why a lot of those songs are so long and arranged for the stage is that we missed it all so badly. Gosh, and then now and now. The little bit that I’ve been teasing out there—that was the new stuff that’s caused more by country roots. I mean, it’s still pretty hairy. And we can mix it up with the songs, but they’re a little more traditional in a way that I think is still true to us. But it also, like, feels like forward motion from this album.
How does it feel to be at this spot where you can deliver on the promise of pulling from the entire catalog? Is there an endpoint for how far back you’re reaching?
We play “When My Time Comes” just about every night, and that’s from our first album. We can do a few songs from each album, but that’s sorta the limit for the time we have in a single night. That’s part of what’s so fun about this whole thing. I was talking to a TV writer friend recently, and he was jealous of what we do because musicians exist in one of the only creative mediums where artists get to share the breadth of everything they’ve made, night after night. If you’re painting or writing books, that’s not how your work gets to interact with audiences. But we can revisit what we were thinking in 2009 and a vibe from 2011, and then a song we wrote earlier that day. It’s a delight to ram them all together and see how they interact.
In keeping with that ephemeral nature, you haven’t had much time to tour in support of Doomscroller. Has anything from that album started changing live already?
We added some intros to stuff that didn’t have intros before. One cool thing is the guy that designed the artwork for us, in Bush, he’s now actually the sixth guy on stage with us. He’s got a whole bunch of percussion stuff. He’s able to help bring things to life in a way that we couldn’t before. We have a second guitar player on tour that isn’t on the record. It just adds so much texture and beefs up the tunes way more than the album was capable of doing.
In going back to early songs from your catalog, what’s the track that has changed the most under your current vibes and lineup? Is anything unrecognizable versus how it existed in, say, 2008?
Some songs have a completely new arrangement, like our song “Bear Witness.” I don’t even really remember how the studio version goes. With the record, you know, we try to get our point across. Then we kind of get out of there with the show and are striving to hit the ceiling in a way that might not be objective in the studio.
If you’d brought an opening band on this tour, who would it have been? (Who are you excited by right now that we should check out?)
I mean, she wouldn’t open for us now because she will be bigger than us by the neck of the tour. But Madison Cunningham’s new music, I feel like it’s like my favorite thing out there right now in terms of new stuff. She really blows my mind, and her new record is so good. She’s in some cities we’re playing at similar-sized venues, and I won’t be surprised if very soon she eclipses us. Another artist that I love for this is a friend of mine, Paul Spring. He just released an album called Thunderhead that’s really amazing. In terms of modern music, those are the two to listen to.
What’s the thing you’re most excited to do as part of that tour in 2023?
I mean, this is our final tour with our original bass player, Wylie Gelber, so just being able to really, like, bask in the joy of all these venues and make sure we’re present for it. We’re just trying to be really mindful, and even though it’s sad, it has brought a lot of meaning and joy to each set. Nothing’s been phoned in. We’re not taking anything for granted.
Tickets are available here for “An Evening with Dawes, The Misadventures of Doomscroller Tour” at Liberty Hall April 16. General admission with reserved front balcony. 7 p.m. Doors / 8 p.m. Show