Originally published on TheRunnerOnline.com.The Bakersfield Fox Theater was graced with the talents of singer-songwriter, Gavin DeGraw Sunday, April 27, and he did not disappoint. Prior to the show, I was able to contact his management team, and DeGraw gladly answered a few of my questions via e-mail, despite his busy schedule.
Shelby Parker: Your first album came out over 10 years ago. How would you say your songwriting and even the process of making an album has changed for you?
Gavin DeGraw:Wow, has it been that long already? Well, when I wrote my first few albums, I insisted on doing it alone and over the course of the last two records I got into the concept of cowriting and having multiple producers on each album which has really added another dimension to the music as a whole. Working with other people brings into play all of those other creative people’s influences and it’s made for not only albums with a variety of material, but adds excitement to the love performances, being that there’s so much more in the arsenal to choose from. When you get a chance to work with guys like Butch Walker, Kevin Rudolph, Ryan Tedder, Martin Johnson, etc, you jump at the opportunity and say ‘Let’s do this.’
: What was it like being nominated for your first Grammy back in February?(*He was nominated in the category of Best Song Written for Visual Media with Colbie Caillat for “We Both Knew” from the Nicholas Sparks’ film, Safe Haven.)
GD:Let me start by saying what an honor it was to be nominated. When Colbie got together and wrote the song, we were really inspired and we were having the time of our lives on tour together performing nightly to our fans and just having the best time. We had a special invitation to join the cast, crew, and execs to the premier of Safe Haven and did the red carpet and press together with Relativity Media and such and of course you enjoy the moment and go about touring after all that to continue the madness of playing music. The phone rang months later regarding the nomination. We couldn’t have been more excited. It might have been Colbie’s fourth. Whoa. It was my first, so it was very special. We love the song and feel it translates really strongly live. Gotta love a duet. Takes me back to “Islands in the Stream.”
: Your song, “I Don’t Want To Be” was used as the theme song for One Tree Hill, and you made a few appearances on the show, as well. Do you think your involvement with the show helped get your name out there in the early days of your career?
GD:One hundred percent without the partnership of One Tree Hill, I don’t know if the song or my album Chariot would have seen the light of day as far as exposure was concerned. The show added an element to the promotion of the song that I definitely needed to spread the word and get my foot in the door. The best part about it is that the show happened to be a hit and also happened to have a cast and crew of some really great people, which added to the experience as a whole. They’re a really great group of people.
: Recently, you recorded duets with two of the biggest female vocalists in country music, Sara Evans and Martina McBride. How did that come about?
GD:It’s always humbling to have another artist invite you to join them on any project and these two, well, what can I say? Such beautiful, talented people. And I’ve been a fan of both of theirs. The fact that Sara wanted to do one of mine, which I wrote with my buddy Ryan Tedder, was very flattering. I was excited to hear a Nashville take on “Not Over You” and I was NOT disappointed. She put HER OWN stamp on it (so fantastic) and the new version takes that song to a whole new level. And then of course my friend, the great Martina McBride. When we went into the studio and I knew we were cutting some Sam Cooke, I was so excited because I’m not only a huge fan of hers, but of Sam’s as well and have been singing Sam Cooke since I was a kid, played the Sam Cooke induction to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame with Solomon Burke (May he rest in peace), Aretha Franklin, Taj Mahal, & Elvis Costello, and even covered him on one of my own records. So… They invited me to sing with Martina, well, I was ALL IN. That’s GOOD company and she really brought “IT” and you can hear it all over that record. So great!!! “Bring It On Home” is just one of those Everlasting songs and I’m proud to have been given to chance to sing a legendary song with somebody legendary. And one more thing. Kelly Clarkson is on that record too. Good choice Martina. Fantastic.
: Speaking of country music, you have a house in Nashville and opened the music club, The National Underground with your brother. Would you ever like to venture into the country music genre a little more?
GD:Joey and I are musicians first and foremost and since that’s our passion we felt we belonged on Nashville with the community of musicians a fine city such as Nashville hosts. It’s been a dream come true being part of the local scene and the community has been incredibly supportive. Hopefully the National Underground will continue to grow and we’ll be lucky enough to enjoy years to come of some of the finest live music ever created. Cheers Nashville. And well, we grew up hearing a lot of country. On fact my first musical memory is being at my grandparents’ house listing to “Hey Good Looking.” Gotta love Hank. Plenty of Marty Robbins and Roger Miller too. If you don’t know “El Paso,” you’re not allowed in the house.
SP: Your last record, “Make A Move,” seems to have a few different elements to it, but fans can still recognize your signature sound. Was that intentional while recording?
GD:I appreciate that. My goal was to evolve, but not stray. You always want to deliver new sounds or new elements to the music, yet always keep your foundation solid and not alienate yourself or your audience. I’ve been really lucky to have an audience of music lovers and I think they give me a lot of room to experiment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s never too EXPERIMENTAL. I just like to mix it up a bit. It’s the Billy Joel approach. Variety. Don’t be predictable. Have fun. It’s just music.
: What advice do you have for those 20-something’s who are out there chasing a dream right now?
GD:My only advice is to only do it if you truly love it. It’s not a part time job. It’s a lifestyle… And I really love it.
SP: What can fans expect from your show at the Fox Theater in Bakersfield?
GD:We’re gonna have a great time. If we’re not having fun, I’m not doing my job, right? It’s that simple. It’s only showbiz. I’m gonna be up there sweating and singing and I promise, I never leave the stage wishing I woulda tried harder. See ya there. Let’s party.
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