Solomons, MD -Now just one week before his Calvert County tour stop, which is set for Aug. 2 at the Calvert Marine Museum, Gavin DeGraw sat down for an exclusive interview with TheBaynet.com.
DeGraw made it clear that he is looking forward to his upcoming stop at the PNC Waterside Pavilion discussing everything from how he got his passion for music to a podcast he is currently co-hosting with a former Washington Capitals Player, to his favorite parts of touring in Maryland,
“I come from a blue-collar town in upstate New York, Catskill Mountains, a prison town up there,” DeGraw said. “And I saw Billy Joel play concert once when I was a teenager, with the family. I thought ‘that’s what I’m going to do for a living,’ and I already had loved music, but I didn’t think to myself, ‘you know what, a career,’ you know? But I was such a fan and the show was so good… That was it when I saw that, it was over. I had to do it.”
As DeGraw reminisced to that first Billy Joel concert, he has managed to find irony nowadays in the fact that he frequently performs alongside his childhood idol on some of the world’s biggest stages.
“You know, many years later, Billy’s camp called me and offered me a show. And then, for the last probably four years or so, he’s been having me out to open shows for him and do stuff like that,” DeGraw explained. “So it’s really been an unbelievable experience, you know opening for Billy, playing Madison Square Garden a bunch of times, and Fenway Park and [Capital One Arena], it’s just been incredible. Being embraced by your idol, you know? So it’s been pretty incredible… It’s been a long and amazing, amazing road.”
Although he has already released six studio albums over his career, DeGraw’s “excitement” over making music with some of the best minds in the business and creating bigger opportunities for himself keeps his creative genius going strong.
“It’s funny now I’m six albums in, and I feel like it’s still the beginning because it’s still so exciting to me,” DeGraw said. “Still opportunities continue to come up that are bigger and better than the ones before… the first few albums I wrote alone, and then for a couple of albums, I would write with people. Some songs I always wrote alone, even on those records. But some songs I wrote with co-writers, and with other people who I found to be really talented at their job… guys like Ryan Tedder [from OneRepublic], or even some little guys. But you know, there’s so much good talent out there and sometimes you just feel lucky to get in a room with some of these guys and throw some ideas around and it’s just been fantastic.”
While he wasn’t afraid to talk about who he has collaborated with in the past, DeGraw also wasn’t afraid to open up about how important it is for him to write his own songs. This also gave him the perfect opportunity to discuss how his next album, which DeGraw is anticipating will be released in the next six months, will sound less like albums he has put out in the past.
“Sometimes you go off and you write a lot… just the responsibility of writing alone feels more important and there’s always a certain amount of more pride when you’re writing by yourself,” the singer explained. “Maybe just because you feel like it’s 100 percent just you. And you know, when it works, you just feel [more] gratification I suppose.”
“But like this album that I’m making right now, it’s more along the lines of [what] I would call more like a like a Bob Seger type record — Bob Seger, Springsteen, a Rascal Record, something much more Americana, almost like a 1970’s songwriter, rock record,” he continued. “Just heartfelt, pure and an album that’s really tailored for songwriting, period. Just songwriting, you know? Not tailored necessarily for radio, but really just from the heart, really pure, all that musicianship and performance and rawness. [Being] about a blue-collar background and upbringing and being from a small town, so, a lot of that content is there. To me, this is this will be my, it’ll be my baby. It’s a long time coming, a record like this for me.”
Even though this won’t be his first trip to Southern Maryland, DeGraw made it clear that he enjoyed the area the last time he was around, and that he has found a special appreciation for a statewide delicacy over his last few tour stops in Maryland.
“I’ve been in Maryland, boy dozens of times… I’ve been to Baltimore many times [mostly when touring],” DeGraw said. “I remember it was beautiful… a beautiful area where I was at, with this good restaurant around the corner. I was just popping in [places] and stuff, trying to get a little idea of what the feel of the place was like. And I had the your crab cakes and I remember thinking “those were unusually good,” like this is way better than the crab cakes in Nashville,” he said with a contagious laugh.
After taking a moment to bash all other crab cakes he has tried throughout his travels, the performer went on to discuss his favorite part of being on stage and what he wants people to expect when they come see the show.
“The biggest thing [about performing live] is that instant gratification of, you know, seeing the effect of every phrase. Every phrase is going to have an effect on the audience, and so you can see what lines have the most potency, what moments of show have low potency, where the audience interacts, or where they layout and observe… it’s a ride,” DeGraw explained. “We know what our job is; our job is to make sure everybody has a great time. You know, we’ll take them for a ride during a show. As an artist, you’re just a reflection of the of the audience, you know? You’re just helping represent them with your hope, hoping, your songs are representing them, and they feel as if they’re part of your community, and I strive to have a certain sort of sense of community, with [our] audience. I want them to feel like they know me. By the end of the show, I hope that they feel like ‘oh, yeah, he’s he just like us.’
DeGraw said that music is just a great place for people to find common ground.
New music is not the only thing coming from the 2014 Grammy-nominated musician.
DeGraw shared that in addition to recently getting involved with his brother in the bar scene of Nashville with his 55,000 square-foot bar called Nashville Underground, he has also recently started co-hosting a podcast with former Washington Capital Brooks Laich.
The podcast, called “How Men Think,” was described by the musician as a group of friends talking about “relationships and what’s good about them and where we fail at them.”
When he isn’t working on music, DeGraw likes to take road trips with his dog and “keep life full and interesting,” even though their performances also tend to do such.
“We’re looking forward to [this] experience. This is an opportunity for us to get out on another beautiful summer night and see our fans and make new fans and build more community with our music,” DeGraw said.
Opening up for DeGraw on the main stage will be the Spin Doctors, as well as the just recently announced local musician, Philip Michael Parsons. The gates will open for the Aug. 2 show at 5 p.m.
To purchase tickets, go online to the Calvert Marine Museum’s Website.
Contact Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org.