How Dawes came to be one of the most respected live bands around

Dawes is one of the most respected live bands around. The Southern California rock band has toured with Dylan and collaborated with Elvis Costello.

“Where do you think your biggest songwriting influence came from early on? Because there is an epic quality to a lot of your lyrics. You are reaching for something big,” “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason asked the band’s frontman, Taylor Goldsmith.

“Well, I think at first, songs were sort of the vehicle which allowed me to be on the stage and get to hold a guitar and get to sing,” Goldsmith said.

For as long as he can remember, the 31-year-old has wanted to be onstage playing music.

“Growing up, even finding all those notes that you write in first grade to your future self of like what you want to be when you grow up – it was always music,” Goldsmith said.

His education started at home, listening to Beatles records with his younger brother Griffin and their father in Los Angeles. With Taylor on guitar and Griffin on drums, the Goldsmiths now make their own records in Dawes. Their 2009 debut, “North Hills,” immediately drew comparisons to the Laurel Canyon sound of the 1970s.

“I mean I was really struck the first time I heard you guys because I heard it right away because I grew up with it. But what took you there?” Mason asked.

“I think for us, it was something in the water or something in California because it was really a happy accident,” Goldsmith said. “And then as we were finishing that first record, a lot of people were like, ‘Oh you sound like this ‘70s California band.’ And I was like, ‘Oh really, what are California-like artists from the ‘70s?’ And they were like, ‘Oh, you know, you like Joni and Neal and you know, you dig Jackson Browne.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve heard of him. I need to check him out.’”

Years later, in a musical twist of fate, Dawes would go on to influence Browne’s most recent studio album. Mason spoke about that with Browne in 2014.

“It’s funny because they refer to Dawes as retro, you know. But I was-- I think it’s because there’s no real term for what they’re doing -- never has been any term for excellence,” Browne said.

Goldsmith has become a sought-after musician for other top artists, doing high-profile collaborations like 2014’s “The New Basement Tapes” with Marcus Mumford, Costello, Jim James and Rhiannon Giddens.

“What does that bring to the equation musically in terms of, when you have collaborations like this?” Mason asked.

“They come out of nowhere. Like for me, it’s funny that I have ended up in so many side projects because I have always looked at any song that I write as a Dawes song,” Goldsmith said. “But it does inform our process and it does inspire us.”

With their just-released fifth album, “We’re All Gonna Die,” Dawes is breathing new life into their classic Southern California sound. 

“You guys have gone in a markedly different direction here,” Mason said.

“It’s funny because it didn’t feel like that at the time,” Goldsmith said.

To produce the album, Goldsmith reconnected with his junior high school friend, Blake Mills, who’s also produced for Alabama Shakes. He had played in the first version of the band, Simon Dawes.

“Is that scary in any way, in terms of what it might mean to your audience?” Mason asked.

“Yeah, but weirdly, I feel reinforced by that,” Goldsmith said. “And so to me, I’ve always thought the kinds of fans that I want is the kind of fan that I am, which is when I subscribe to an artist, I’m yours. I’m on board. And if you want to make weirder records or different records, like I’m going to listen and I’m going to dig for what I love about it.”

“You’re on board for the journey,” Mason said.

“Yeah, and it’s really rewarding when you are,” Goldsmith said.