Life is good for Dawes

“The best way to get [new] fans is by showing people this is a touring live band,” says Taylor Goldsmith about the success of his band Dawes.
Joe Giblin/Associated Press
“The best way to get [new] fans is by showing people this is a touring live band,” says Taylor Goldsmith about the success of his band Dawes.

On the phone from a big rock festival in the Netherlands, Taylor Goldsmith, singer-songwriter for Dawes, can agree that life is pretty good for the band right now. The California roots-rock quartet just came off a tour with Bob Dylan, recently recorded a track with John Fogerty, and its latest album, “Stories Don’t End,” is another critically acclaimed set of finely crafted tunes that deftly utilizes Goldsmith’s wistful croon. The band is set to play the first day of the Life is good festival Saturday at Prowse Farm in Canton.

Q. Are you fan of any of the bands that you’re playing with at the festival, maybe Hall and Oates or the Roots?

A. Absolutely, a lot of work both of those bands have done is pretty incredible. We missed Hall and Oates when we were at Outside Lands and I was really hoping to catch their set. I’ve heard their tour recently has been incredible. [Daryl Hall’s] voice is unbelievable.


Q. You guys have played many festival gigs. What do enjoy about them?

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A. If we’re playing a small little club, that’s a certain kind of rock show. If we’re playing a big theater that’s a maybe more subtle and gentle kind of show. But if we’re playing a festival, then it’s going to be a high-energy rock show and it’s more about the broad strokes and really trying to connect with people who can barely even see you — and that’s a talent in and of itself. I don’t have a favorite kind of venue to play. They’re all just a thrill in their own way. And with festivals it’s an extra challenge because a lot of the people don’t even know who you are. At a festival you’re really trying to turn heads and get new fans.

Q. Do you find that fans come up to you at your own headlining gigs and say they discovered you in that setting?

A. Yeah, definitely, and that’s an important thing for us, especially since we’re not a big radio band. We don’t really have songs that translate in a very commercial way in today’s radio climate. So the best way to get fans is by showing people this is a touring live band.

Q. What was the Dylan tour experience like?


A. I think it was mainly, in a way, like taking ourselves to task to see what it looks like to have the ultimate songwriter still be having the same priorities of reinventing himself and staying relevant to himself. Obviously, he’s not trying to play the game of what’s cool in 2013 but more, “How can I be fresh in my own approach to my own catalog?” The way he doesn’t speak to the audience, maybe some people might resent it, but I think it adds to the power of not only the shows but to everything Bob Dylan.

Q. Was his audience receptive?

A. Yeah, they really were. We’ve done a lot of opening shows. Mumford & Sons fans are typically hungry for new music because they’re all typically younger and that’s how they came upon Mumford & Sons, by being open and receptive to new stuff. I feel like Bob Dylan fans are typically more set in their ways as to what they’re there to see, so the challenge was a little more daunting but it ended up being great for us. The fans were really receptive and we sold a lot of records and people were quiet when they needed to be quiet and cheered loud when they needed to cheer loud.

Q. Another rock ’n’ roll great who is a Dawes fan is John Fogerty, with whom you recently recorded. How did that come together?

A. His manager called our manager and we were so honored because Credence Clearwater [Revival] was as big of an inspiration to us as anything early on. So we were thrilled to work with our hero.


Q. There’s a throughline of storytelling in your records. Obviously, fans can still imprint their own feelings and thoughts on the songs but are clear stories important to you?

A. You’re definitely right for the most part, but it goes back and forth. I’m a fan of rock ’n’ roll in general and there’s periods of my songwriting that I don’t know if I could easily describe what the intentions were of a song like “When You Call My Name” or even “When My Time Comes,” it is a little more impressionistic on some level. And I’m into that, and hopefully it will kind of waver back and forth. When you look at all your favorite songwriters, there’s always periods in their songwriting where they work in certain ways and then change, and I think that it’s important for a writer not to get set in their ways. So yeah, I do like it being a very clear story a lot, but I look forward to the time when maybe the exact opposite is the case.

Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman