It seems funny that an artist who has so many established fans would be hesitant at all when releasing a new disc, but that was the case for Gavin DeGraw this spring. What would someone like DeGraw, who has already created a substantial buzz before signing a record deal, then landing an army of adoring female fans and a number one single, have to worry about?
Career longevity doesn't seem like an issue with the groundwork he's already laid, but it seems that's exactly his concern.
"When the record came out a few months back, it was a little intimidating," DeGraw admitted. "It had been almost two years since I'd been on the road, so I didn't know just what to expect."
"When 'In Love with the Girl' (the first new single) came out, I really got lucky -- it went Top 10 on the pop charts. That really kind of broke me out and solidified what I'm doing. I think it gave me more legitimacy in the long term," he shared, expressing concern about being perceived as a one hit wonder.
It's not like DeGraw was lacking quality material, however. "I wasn't jonesing for songs," DeGraw told me. "I like being creative, so I'm always writing."
While discussing his writing habits, he referred to Grammy winning songwriter Randy Newman, who has said he treats his songwriting like an office job. "I did it that way," DeGraw explained. "I forced myself to write every day, even if I wasn't writing that well. If I got stuck on something, I'd take a break and eventually it would come to me. I was able to draw a lot of dividends that way."
Once DeGraw was getting ready to hit the studio, however, he started to feel the burden behind what would essentially be his sophomore release.
"It's not that I was lacking songs," he said. "I was comfortable with the songs I had written. It was more about keeping people around me and the fans happy. I'm happy it put pressure on me though, because I feel like I work better under pressure."
The culmination of his efforts, a self-titled CD was released in May and has lived up to the standard of DeGraw's previous work. With a new album and the aforementioned top 10 single in his back pocket, DeGraw spent much of the summer on the road and continues to tour behind the record and its second single, "Cheated on Me."
It's not hard to imagine that a songwriter like DeGraw will continue to rack up hit singles, but when giving the song more than a casual listen, the lyrics reveal a depth that most pop singles don't convey. While it starts out as the simple argument that "I think you cheated on me," the song turns the corner into the second verse. The protagonist then looks inward, revealing that he's been here before and perhaps is guilty of pushing his partner away, adding to the dark melancholy.
While discussing the single with DeGraw, he commented, "Fortunately and unfortunately-- I think a lot of people are going to be able to identify with it.
I'm not sure if everyone will be as perceptive, but that's part of why I like writing. I have to portray both sides of the story so people are more understanding."
"We just finished the video for the second single and I'm really happy with it. It's the best video we've done," he shared. "I had time to create a concept and we really got it, visually. This is the first time the video and the lyrics are cohesive, so I think it works well."
Gavin DeGraw's fall tour will be stopping at the Cain's Ballroom this Monday night (October 20) with Needtobreathe opening the show at 8pm. Tickets are $23 in advance or $26 at the door.
SoundProofing the Press Club
Yes, it's been a little quieter this year than last, but UTW and the Tulsa Press Club are still teaming up to present the SoundProof concert series every third Thursday of the month at the Press Club. October's installment is here and we'll be presenting this is benji... this Thursday evening, October 16, performing an acoustic set highlighting material from his new disc, Far Too Honest, which we featured here last week.
If you didn't get a chance to check him out last weekend, or even if you did, join us at the Press Club this week for happy hour and a few tunes to wind down before the weekend arrives. We'll see you there.
While it's a relatively calm week in Tulsa, there are still plenty of cool shows in town. If you're ready to see more music after relaxing at the Press Club, you've got three options within just a few blocks. First up, Cairde Na Gael holds down its bi-weekly gig of traditional Irish tunes at Arnie's Pub. If you're looking for something a little edgier, you can skip across the tracks to The Marquee to see how Tulsa's monster indie act in the making, Straight Lines, are shaping up with their live show; and if you're in more of a hip-hop mood, Cain's Ballroom hosts current buzz band Flobots with local boys Kawnar and Hiphopotamus opening. Tickets are $23 at the door.
On Friday, October 17, the big local showcase for the weekend has to be "Bitten: A Vampire Experience" at the Blank Slate. It's a vampire themed party, headlined by PDA and featuring guest acts My Solstice, The Thrill That Kills, RadioRadio, We Stay Gold, Milos Fare and Dull Drums- a good way to gear up for Halloween while catching a sample of all types of local music with a $10 cover.
Also on Friday night, Joe Mack brings his tunes to Arnie's; Josh Davis Band rocks Mercury Lounge and The Marquee hosts metal night with Valiant Thor, Operator Dead: Post Abandoned and more for $10.
On Saturday night, the Monolith hosts The Dead See, The Great Collapse and tanemouthelectron (onlythebugman) for the experimental and hardcore kids while Electric Rag Band and Band of Heathens represent the roots rock movement at Mercury Lounge.
My recommendation for October 18, however, is Deas Vail at The Marquee with A Brilliant Folly and Jason Ferguson Band. Deas Vail's new EP, White Lights, is a step forward from All the Houses Look the Same and packs more memorable hooks, without losing the band's dreamier qualities and serves as a promise for more with next spring's full length disc. Catch up with the DFest alumni with an $8 cover for the 7pm show.
Sunday, October 19, sees Black Angels, Strange Boys and Rainbows are Free rock Bob's for $8. Gavin DeGraw graces the second stage at Cain's on Monday night.
The week wraps up with Neil Diamond playing for our parents at the BOK Center on Tuesday night, October 21. Personally, I'd rather get my rocks off with Celtic punk band Flatfoot 56 at the Rose Bowl. Even better, it's a free show!
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