The band toured with the music legend and are applying lessons from that experience to their current 50-date tour, which stops at the Showbox in Seattle on Feb. 24.
Los Angeles-based rock group Dawes is one of the rare acts to observe and learn from musical legend Bob Dylan. The band recently toured with the Nobel Prize winner for about six weeks. And now Dawes will take the lessons learned and use them on its own 50-date tour, which includes a stop in Seattle on Friday, Feb. 24.
“You don’t really see him around that much on tour,” says Wylie Gelber, Dawes’ bassist. “And as almost every story of Bob Dylan goes, he’s sort of bizarre, a recluse. But if you watch 30 Bob Dylan shows in the course of a month and a half, you learn a lot.”
And what might that be, exactly?
8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, Showbox, 1426 First Ave., Seattle. $25 (206-628-3151 or showboxpresents.com).
“We try to keep our sets different,” Gelber says. “To change it up. And he’s the king of that. He keeps his band on their toes every night — like, what key or genre is he going to start playing his classic songs in? It’s very inspiring to watch.”
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But it’s not far-fetched that Dylan might have learned a thing or two from Dawes, too. The four-piece band, which bridges modern influences from jazz to funk with classic rock, plays a syncopated, rhythm-heavy sound as if The Strokes, Modest Mouse and The Allman Brothers created a sonic offspring.
“In the beginning, we were all heavily influenced by those ’70s and ’60s groups. We’re into instruments — the organ, the bass — and those years were the height of real instruments. But as we’ve grown up, our tastes have expanded,” Gelber says.
One of Dawes’ missions, in fact, is to stretch the member’s musical comfort zone, moving away from mid-20th-century rock into something else.
“We wanted to master one set of skills and then morph that into another set,” Gelber says. “To find more of an original sound. But you never really get there. You keep honing that for the rest of your life.”
In Dawes’ recently released fifth studio record, “We’re All Gonna Die,” the highlight is “When the Tequila Runs Out,” a catchy tune born out of a real-life experience of running out of booze. The band recently released a surprise follow-up live album, “We’re All Gonna Live.” To support these releases, a grueling tour is scheduled during which, for each show, the band will play two sets with no opening act.
“We love to play,” Gelber says. “Over the last few tours we’ve been playing longer and longer headlining sets. This is our fifth record, so we’re finally getting to a point where we have a decent-sized catalog.”
And like Dylan, the members of Dawes know that experimenting and live stage time create a more fulfilling sense of accomplishment and rounder and more capable musicians.
“We’ve been trying to hone our instruments for years and years,” Gelber says. “Playing together is the most important aspect of that. One hundred rehearsals is worth, like, one live show as a band together. It’s one step further along.”