by Nicholas Tristan, Features Editor
To discuss to impact and evolution of the band Dawes, I sat down with talented multi-instrumentalist Rob McLaren. Perhaps best known as the guitarist and fiddler for Union Duke, Rob also plays banjo for Toronto bluegrass band The Barrel Boys. He is currently finishing work on his second solo album. He was also my college roommate, and a close friend to this day.
Part Three: Lyrics and Conclusion
N: I think something again and again in their writing -- Taylor especially -- they swing for the fences in a way that most writers don’t or are scared to do. Taylor is so, not even literal, but he likes bold, declarative statements
N: Like that line in “Something in Common”, (quoting) “It’s not faith that comes from miracles --”
R: “-- but miracles that come from faith.” Yeah.
N: That’s a great line, but I’d be terrified to write that.
R: I would never write (quoting) “You might take it or leave it, but love is all I am.”
N: There’s another good line on North Hills, on the song “God Rest My Soul”: (quoting) “Only thing that’s scarier than dying is not dying at all.”
R: Taylor also has a smaller collection of songs about nothing happening for any reason. There’s “A Little Bit of Everything”, “Things Happen”, “Less Than Five Miles Away”. It’s an interesting territory to explore over the course of several different songs. He seems like a person who also writes his lyrics first.
R: Mostly because they’re all iambic. They look like you could read them and there would have a clear rhythm without any extending any vowels -- which some people don’t like.
N: That’s something I really do appreciate about his writing. You can tell he’s a good poet. His lines have meter, his lines have rhythm to them. Which, my God: sometimes you can be a great writer and your lines can have no meter at all.
R: When you write that way, it can come across as you writing songs that are really wordy --
N: And Dawes’ songs are very wordy,
R: Right. And when you can read them with a “duh-DUH-duh-DUH duh-DUH-duh-DUH” rhythm you can of end up singing them that way, too. Like, even if you put pauses in there or extend vowels that’s still how it will come across,
R: Which I totally don’t mind! Mainly because I write that way too. I get why people are turned off by it, because their songs do end up being very wordy, and how you feel about them kind of comes down to how you feel about the words. Do you like the words? How important is the meaning of the words, and the poetry of the words, to the enjoyment of the song? Because it doesn’t have to be everything, some people really prioritize melody or “catchiness”.
N: It’s interesting. I don’t think the wordiness really gets in the way. Like, sure, maybe they cram a few extra syllables in at the end of the line, but I still find it pretty accessible. I think what bothers a lot of people is that Taylor writes kind of the same meter all the time. All his lines have the same arc and shape, to fit in those same beautiful words.
R: I get that. I think this comes down to a fundamental feeling I have about Dawes: I’m very defensive about Dawes.
N: Yeah! I am too. I like them a lot.
Our Top Five Records:
5. All Your Favorite Bands (2015)
4. North Hills (2009)
3. Stories Don’t End (2013)
2. We’re All Gonna Die (2016)
1. Nothing is Wrong (2011)
5. North Hills (2009)
4. Nothing is Wrong (2011)
3. All Your Favorite Bands (2015)
2. We’re All Gonna Die (2016)
1. Stories Don’t End (2013)