It's also important to point out that Simon Dawes doesn't exist. There is no actual Simon Dawes in Simon Dawes. The foursome is comprised of two dynamic twenty something's, a barely legal bassist and a rock 'n' roll drummer that's over 40 years old.
“Yeah he's a lot older than us, but he's appropriate in his approach to drums,” says singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith of drummer Stuart Johnson. “We sort of put the age thing aside. One of the endearing aspects to Stuart is that he, in a lot of ways, is the youngest of all of us.”
The image alone of Johnson rocking out is good enough for lead guitarist Blake Mills. “How rock 'n' roll is it to have a 40-year-old dude in your band playing drums, that's punk rock.”
While 20 years their senior, Johnson does have something that his fellow band mates do not: a house. The group's early recordings all took place there. These tracks are, as Goldsmith says, to be used to get a sense of music the band was creating and for that reference alone. For in the beginning, Simon Dawes was all about getting the girls.
“I just wanted to get the attention of this girl I really liked,” Mills says about the early intentions for starting the band. The girl in question happened to love '90s act Ben Folds Five whose piano, drums and bass guitar sound made many college students' hearts flutter.
Deciding to recreate that sound and gain the same adoration, an acoustic guitar and piano tandem was born. A plethora of songs was written; girls were impressed, but something was missing.
A rhythm section needed to be assembled. Plucking Johnson and high school student/bassist wunderkind Wylie Gelber to join, the group was a rough gem in need of some heavy polishing.
“With early Simon Dawes we were still in the process of shaping our fate,” Goldsmith says. “When we were first starting out Simon Dawes we were listening to things that wouldn't appeal to us the same way now. We were listening to pretty involved jazz records to get a sense of our instruments. We thought that was what music was based upon. These guys are the best players, therefore they're the best musicians. At the time we didn't have the sense of song but the sense of performance.”
Though by simply playing, Simon Dawes landed opportunity after opportunity. Record producer Tony Berg (Aimee Mann, Michael Penn) was the catalyst for landing the boys a deal with indie label Record Collection.
An opening slot on tour with Maroon 5 lent to a much wider audience. And, it's a pretty sweet deal to know that some of your good friends are in Phantom Planet and the Like.
“It's a real healthy breeding ground,” Mills says of the Los Angeles network of bands. “The more time you spend with your buddies, the more constructive criticism. It's definitely taken everyone's craft and kept it very healthy. It's a success as far as I'm concerned.”
Though with these early accomplishments come certain stigmas. Being from an affluent city and having chart-topping compadres could lead one to think that the band was just riding their friends' proverbial coattails to success and fame. This is not the case at all.
“These relationships we've made, these opportunities that we've made can perhaps be attributed to the music,” Goldsmith says. “If anybody likes the music, then I couldn't care less. That's all that matters.”
Being blunt is a facet of Goldsmith's songwriting ability. While Goldsmith is more direct, he feels that his songwriting partner Mills is more of the off the wall lyricist. It's a partnership that goes back to high school and even though it's too early to crown them as the second coming of Lennon/McCartney, do know that the influence is there.
“The best thing about my relationship with Blake is that we are different songwriters and that's become more and more clear. Therefore, Simon Dawes can be something in which my shortcomings as a songwriter can be checked by Blake's forte and vice versa,” Goldsmith says.
Maturity doesn't just cross over to the band's songwriting ability. When the time came to begin work on its debut LP Carnivore , the band had a dead set focus. No first album jitters even as they worked with as credible a producer as Berg.
“If he [Berg] had an idea that we may not have agreed with, then we had no problem saying so, and he felt the same way. We were at a point where we were comfortable to make a record that we wanted to make and allow him to be a facilitator.”
Carnivore is currently available. The band will perform Jan. 10 at Hotel Café in Hollywood. For more information, visit www.simondawes.com .