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'Nothing Is Wrong' With Dawes



    When the Los Angeles four-piece Dawes released North Hills, their 2009 debut album, its members were barely in their 20s, and at least one was still in high school. Youth didn't seem to affect the band's songwriting skills, however. Dawes' home-brewed debut was a mature, meditative collection that felt like early '70s Jackson Browne, and it became an instant hit among the indie crowd.

    This year, the band released Nothing Is Wrong, a rock-ier follow-up to North Hills that sees brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, Wylie Gelber and Tay Strathairn bringing some of their live energy into the studio. It only makes sense, since they've basically been touring since the release of North Hills.

    Now, in a match seemingly made in West Coast indie-rock heaven, the band has announced a co-headlining tour with Portland country-rock stalwarts Blitzen Trapper -- and a stop at the Belly Up is planned for Oct. 9. In anticipation of the show, we sat down with Dawes bassist Wylie Gelber and talked about L.A., recording and indie rock stardom.

    T. Loper: Seems like a lot changed for Dawes between the release of North Hills and Nothing Os Wrong.
    Wylie Gelber: Definitely. The first record was a pretty soft release; we recorded it ourselves with no label. It was made with as little money as possible, as quickly as possible. This one was a full-on record push with the label; a lot more press, a lot more time spent on every little thing.

    Getty Images

    T.L: When you first started, did you think you would be where you are today?
    W.G.: No, definitely not. We all lived in this little house in the valley. I was fronting the record with money I made from totaling my car. We were making it as quickly as possible. We went on tour with Delta Spirit and we were making 50 bucks a night.

    T.L: And now Jackson Browne is playing on your records.
    W.G.: We all really love living in L.A. I was just in New York for the last week, just hanging out after a tour. It was really great and awesome, but one thing it didn't have was the whole music aspect that L.A. has so well. You just start playing music and you bump into people like Jackson Browne at a show. I met our producer at a show years ago before we ever worked with him. In terms of playing music, L.A. just has it down the best. There are so many musicians and so many houses and studios around, and everyone's playing and recording. It lends itself to a really great, relaxed state of music.

    Dawes will play the Belly Up on Oct. 9. Get your tickets here.

    T. Loper is a writer and photographer for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear.