Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Gavin DeGraw
In the early hours of Monday, August 8, 2011, Singer-Songwriter Gavin DeGraw was heading home after a night out in New York City's East Village. DeGraw at the time been gearing-up to promote his third release through RCA Records (Sony Music Canada) - Sweeter - with a scheduled stop-off here at Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre on August 22, opening for Maroon 5.

Nobody could have foreseen what would transpire that night - an unprovoked attack by several unknown individuals, resulting in DeGraw being listed under stable condition at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital. He suffered a broken nose, a concussion, two black eyes and lacerations to his face.   In addendum to the Assault, he had also been struck by a Taxi moments after. Now less than two-months later, he is back and ready to give it his all with the Album which he says, "shook him up".

DeGraw calls me from St. Louis, mine being among the first batch of Interviews he has done to promote Sweeter since his Recovery. Noting how quick his Comeback has taken flight, he tells me "I've been so focused on performing Music I want to play and that's what's carried me through this.". Known best for some of his earlier Hits like I Don't Want to Be and Chariot, he had been torn between making a Pop Album and the Album he truly wanted to make after two years of over-thinking. "My Record Label finally told me, 'fuck everything and just make the Album you want to make and we'll champion it'", bringing him a great sigh of relief. "Sweeter is far better than anything I could've done by myself. It feels like a real collaborative effort because I'd never co-written before it", he admits.

Much-desired Hitmaker Ryan Tedder (Beyoncé, Adele) of OneRepublic is one of the Collaborators on this Album to give a vote of confidence in DeGraw. "We met backstage at a show for a Radio Station and spent a lot of time just stroking each other's egos, being big fans of one another" he laughs, "People really were pushing for a collaboration to happen". Tedder and him then aligned their schedules, carving-out a bit of time in Nashville where they recorded the Disc's Title Track at Blackbird Studio - using the same facilities which Kings of Leon had for their Sex on Fire. What resulted from their Session was something which DeGraw describes as "sexy, masculine and maybe a little bit like The Black Keys". He says, "We met up again in Denver and came up with a second song, which wound-up being my current single Not Over You".

DeGraw credits Tedder for bringing out a level of honesty never heard before in his Lyrics, referencing one line in their track Sweeter: "You/Went to school and found out you're dumb" - an Ode to his Ex-Girlfriend. "Am I even allowed to write that?" he revels in self-aware delight, "I never would've thought to write something like that before!".

Despite news of some shifts on a Corporate level with several other labels like Jive, Arista and J Records all merging under RCA Records to which he is signed, DeGraw hasn't been impacted significantly. "I try to remain Friends with people I've worked with even after the Business aspect of our Relationship has ended.". That same logic however doesn't apply to Love for him.

Upon perusing some of his ten cohesive hook and heartbreak-laden offerings, I couldn't help but ask about the Girl who inspired many of these songs. Does he still keep in touch with this Ex-Girlfriend? "I can't", he answers abruptly. "Sometimes it's just better to leave it out on the field when things just aren't working anymore. It's an odd thing still being in love with someone you get into more fights with than get along with.".

In the process of writing and recording this Album, DeGraw turned to some Old School inspiration, listening to much Baby Boomer-Rock and '60s Soul Music telling me, "One minute I'd be listening to Sly and the Family Stone. The next I was listening to Édith Piaf". Above this, his decision to open the creative gateways in working with a total five Co-Producers here really breathed some needed vitality into his Music stating to me, "Even when I wasn't in-studio, I could feel the influence of my collaborators". Whether it be the accessibility of Tedder, the funk of Butch Walker (known best for his work with P!nk), Eric Ivan Rosse whose presence can be felt all the way down to the kick-drums on Run Every Time or Ron Aiello who lent a hand on the latest Bruce Springsteen disc, DeGraw describes Sweeter best as an "artistic Collage drawn from an array of Producers".

Slated next for the New York native is a month-long Tour in the U.S. ending in November, plus appearances at some key Radio Concerts over the Holidays, with a focus on Not Over You. Tentatively, tracks Soldier and Radiation are being considered as follow-up singles.

Watch the Video for Not Over You below:

(Photo/video credit: RCA Records)