Song Stories: Dawes’s “All Your Favorite Bands”

The guys in Dawes have a knack for making an audience feel like family, but it comes naturally to them; two of the core members of the group are brothers, after all.

“We speak with the same rhythm,” says Griffin Goldsmith, Dawes’ drummer. “We have the same phrasing, so I know how he’s going to sing something and vice versa. It’s very easy to follow. It’s almost like this sixth sense.” Taylor Goldsmith, Dawes’ resident lead singer and guitarist, continues, “People would say, like, ‘Wow, you know to not cross over each other and harmonize?' We just thought that that’s what you do.”

I get asked about in interviews, ‘Where did that line come from?’ And I'm like, I don’t know, really ... I remember liking it. I don’t remember thinking of it, though."

But it doesn’t just have to do with the family ties. The lyrics in Dawes’ songs are just as familiar, just as comforting — like a worn-in tee shirt, or the one spot on the couch you always sit in when you return home, or even a favorite guitar. Take, for instance, “All Your Favorite Bands,” the title track off of the band’s most recent album. “I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be,” Taylor croons. “I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever. I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me, and may all your favorite bands stay together.”

When pressed, Taylor couldn’t say how he came up with the sentimental crux, an almost-blessing, of the song: “May all your favorite bands stay together.” Writing, he says, was so easy that he barely remembers doing it. “I get asked about in interviews, ‘Where did that line come from?’ And I’m like, I don’t know, really … I remember liking it. I don’t remember thinking of it, though,” he says.

While Taylor says he doesn’t consider himself a “deep dude,” he does believe the concept behind the statement has a lot more meaning than you might initially think. It goes further than simply wishing your favorite bands stay together forever, he says, and even beyond thinking, “I’ll never hear those songs live.” The line delves into deeper territory, indicating the final passing of something, the closing of a life chapter represented by an important band’s breakup.

Taylor Goldsmith's Martin 00-18 Acoustic

Most songs Taylor writes, he believes, have this quality; that of taking on meaning of their own after being written. For instance, only after their song “From the Right Angle” was written did it occur to Taylor what the song was actually about: being in a band and hitting on girls. Simple enough, but the meaning hadn’t really presented itself to the band until they truly started to think about it. The themes and meanings of the songs often reveal themselves later in time.

Although songwriting can often be easy for Taylor, the arrangement is another beast entirely. The arranging process for “All Your Favorite Bands” took a lot to tackle. Most of the other songs on All Your Favorite Bands had been played on tour at least once or twice, so the band had an idea of how they wanted it to sound. Not so with “All Your Favorite Bands.” With the album’s producer, Dave Rawlings, Dawes recorded countless iterations of the song to figure out what worked. Finally, they landed on what you hear on the record — and in the video.

And speaking of the video — what is that guitar you see Taylor playing? It’s actually a Martin 00-18, one the guitarist has only had since December. He tells the story of picking it up directly from the Martin factory after the band had toured it together, shaking hands with the guy who finished it, and realizing that it wasn’t as big a deal to the luthier as it was to him.

As for the keys, Lee Pardini is playing the rare Ace Tone as an alternative to the traditional B3. Although it was meant as a student model, the band found that the Ace Tone was incredibly dynamic, good for tender moments and bombastic playing.

Ace Tone Electronic Organ Model Top-5

Griffin is a C&C guy, but he also likes delving into more boutique brands like Sensory Percussion. For him, the trick is not only finding something that he likes playing now, but finding something that will be worthwhile to own in 10 or 15 years. What will be the next drum equivalent of the ’59 Les Paul? Only time will tell, of course, but Griffin thinks it may be C&C that will be sought after. The drummer also recently found himself in the world of drum machines, thanks to friend Blake Mills.

While Mills didn’t produce the album, he’s been a longtime friend of the members of Dawes, and his fingerprints are apparent on everything the band does. Dawes really came into their own on All Your Favorite Bands and were truly able to find their voice — this comes, in part, thanks to Mills’ influence and tendency towards unconventionality.

Watch the video above to hear the Taylor Goldsmith, Griffin Goldsmith and Lee Pardini of Dawes talk more about their gear, their songwriting process, and to hear Dawes perform “All Your Favorite Bands.”

Vintage Baldwin Burns, from Chicago Music Exchange's inventory

Chicago Music Exchange's guitars, ready for Dawes' set at Reverb’s “All Your Favorite Fans” party

Griffin Goldsmith's C&C kit

Wylie Gelber’s Gibson bass, SVT and 4x10

Taylor Goldsmith's pedalboard

Lee Pardini’s B3

Taylor Goldsmith with CME's '59 Fender Jazzmaster

Duane Betts, with CME's '59 Les Paul "The Burst"

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