Folk/rock/Americana band Dawes has achieved that rare combination of critical and financial success in a business known for being fickle.
Formed in 2009, two of Dawes’ four members are Malibu brothers Taylor Goldsmith, 31, and Griffin, 26, sons of Lenny and Kathy Goldsmith. Their parents still live in the home the boys grew up in on PCH.
The house was always filled with music and instruments, since Lenny Goldsmith was a successful singer himself. He toured with Tower of Power, among others, and fronts popular local band The New Old. Taylor started on guitar at age three and then took piano at four. But Griffin didn’t start playing drums until he was 15.
Kathy Goldsmith confirms her sons always got along growing up and can only recall them fighting once. Taylor said he thinks it was more like twice. The family moved into their Malibu home when the boys were 12 and seven. Griffin joined Taylor at Malibu High after attending Juan Cabrillo Elementary.
Both brothers enjoyed their Malibu childhoods.
“Growing up in Malibu was what most people would guess it’s like,” Griffin said. “Paradise.”
Taylor said his favorite drummer is his brother.
“He has a real commitment to songs and how to play ‘songs’ instead of just ‘drums’ — if that makes sense,” Taylor described. “We also came up shaping our musical sensibilities together, so every idea he has sounds perfect to me.”
The feeling is mutual.
“Taylor’s the best songwriter I know,” Griffin said. “He’s not only a gifted guitarist; he also has a unique voice on the organ and on bass.”
Taylor has even co-written a song with Bob Dylan. It’s on Dylan’s “The New Basement Tapes,” featuring a band put together by famed record producer T Bone Burnett. The members were Taylor, Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Rhiannon Giddens and Jim James.
“We took old Bob Dylan lyrics that never had music written for them and wrote the music,” Taylor said. “We didn’t sit down with Dylan, but it’s pretty special to see the writing credits of these songs read ‘Written by Bob Dylan and Taylor Goldsmith.’”
Dawes also toured with another music legend — Jackson Browne.
“That was another dream come true,” Taylor said. “Jackson is so generous with his music and his shows. He made sure everyone was represented on their instruments and, sometimes, Jackson even had us play some songs of our own. He’s one of my favorites, so it was a true honor to play his songs with him.”
The band started its latest 50-date tour of North America — titled “An Evening With Dawes” — last week. The other members are bassist Wylie Gelber and a new keyboardist, Lee Pardini, who took over from Tay Strathairn last fall. “It’s not just Taylor and me,” Griffin said. “All decisions are democratic.”
The guys all get along extremely well. “It wouldn’t work otherwise,” Taylor said. “When a band is close and the members enjoy each other, you can feel it from the audience. So, we’re very lucky to still feel like a band of brothers after all this time. More than ever, in fact.”
With five acclaimed albums and hit singles, along with appearances on top TV shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live, one career highlight so far might be somewhat surprising. It was their recent appearance on Charlie Rose.
“Getting to sit down with that legendary man at that legendary table was an experience I’ll never forget,” Taylor said.
Kathy Goldsmith recently retired as VP of sales for a Fortune 500 company, and she didn’t take long to think of her proudest moment.
“I’m the pragmatist in the family,” she said. “So my proudest moment was when Taylor and Griffin each bought their own house.”
If there is any doubt that Taylor and Griffin are rock stars, they are both dating actresses: Taylor is seeing Mandy Moore, while Griffin and Caitlin Gerard are stepping out together. Both brothers have been tight-lipped about their private lives, but Taylor did say that his relationship with Golden Globe-nominee Moore is “really great.”
Taylor still keeps in touch with his Malibu friends.
“Most of my memories of Malibu are tied to my friends and family. With our parents still there, we look forward to visiting whenever we can,” Taylor said. “There is nowhere more peaceful and beautiful for us.”
For more information about Dawes and the latest tour dates, see dawestheband.com.