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Gavin DeGraw interview

We chat to the wonderful Gavin DeGraw, ahead of the release of his Best Of album collection.

Gavin DeGraw

My first introduction to Gavin’s music came via the television series One Tree Hill, where my flatmate at the time (hello Lisa!) loved the show; Gavin’s music was the soundtrack to One Tree Hill. From there on, it has been wonderful to see and listen to him grow as an artist over the years. It doesn’t seem that long ago that he first launched, but time seems to have flown as we gear up to the launch of his Best Of collection.

The album is a wonderful collection, featuring some of his most renowned and notable hits to date, including Not Over You, We Belong Together, and I Don’t Wanna Be. The album also has some new songs for his fans, including a new un-released version of Finest Hour, produced by Ryan Tedder. Two new songs also feature, including Fire, produced by Max Martin and Johan Carlsson and written by DeGraw, Johan Carlsson and Ross Golan, and You Got Me, a Dianne Warren penned ballad.

Gavin DeGraw is a man who has been Grammy-nominated, has collaborated with a plethora of high profile artists and still comes across as one of the most humblest, warm and enthusiastic men in the music industry that we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing. From talking to Gavin DeGraw, you can see and hear that music and energy bleeds from his every pore. Each day he feels thankful for being able to call his profession, his dream job. His demeanour is an asset and one can clearly see as to why he has remained so popular, for so many years. 

It was truly wonderful to hear and listen to the excitement in Gavin’s voice as we spoke to him about the launch of his Best Of album. Gavin feels as if the album is more of a reflection of some of his best work to date, as he likes to call it; it’s more like the album is the first part/chapter in his career. Our time with Gavin went only too fast and we loved having the time to chat to him. Gavin is incredibly interesting, chatty, enthusiastic, charming and cool – here is our interview with the man himself. 

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How are you doing today, Gavin?

Hey, I’m good, thank you!

We’re here to go straight in and talk about the launch of your Best Of album. Time seems to have gone fast!

Time has gone fast, I can hardly believe it myself. I used to think that a Best Of was a collection of songs that an artist would put out at the end of their career, you know? (Laughs). But here I am with my Best Of and it only feels like the beginning, with only six albums in to my career so far.

Does it seem possible to have a Best Of album out, already? 

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I feel like I’m just getting started. I wrote this song called Fire and I was so excited about the song and so hyped up about it. We literally finished the song, recorded it and the people that I played it to, loved it. We wanted to get the song out there straight away, but I didn’t have a whole album ready. People said to me, why don’t we put it on the Best Of album, so that’s what we did. 

What was it like working with Max Martin on Fire? 

Max is so creative, he doesn’t just bring power in to the production, he brings finesse. With this production and his level of ability, he just took the song to a whole new level, he’s amazing. 

You Got Me was written by Dianne Warrren, which was also featured in the film Dolphin Tale 2. What was it like working with music royalty like her?

Well, she’s amazing! I’ve been in communication with Dianne for years. Originally she and I worked on a project years ago and we kept in contact. She’s a fabulous writer, she really is, she really brings out the best in you and she knows how to touch your soul. I was in LA and she told me that she had this song for me and she told me it was going to be my song. I heard the song and I absolutely loved it. She’s such an interesting woman and so cool too, you know. Dianne is one of the people that you can just hang out with and have a great time with, too. 

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We’d like to talk about your gigs supporting Billy Joel, we know you’re a huge fan of his. What was your reaction upon hearing that you were going to support him on his shows? 

Oh man! This is the biggest achievement, the biggest thing I think that has happened to me in my career and musical journey so far. I mean getting to play, getting to hang out and getting to meet the person that I grew up listening to was just unreal. I’m a huge fan, you know? Before any of all this, I was and always will be a huge music fan. When I met him, he was so great and thanking me for coming out and opening his shows, which was unreal. Him, thanking me, oh man! It’s the type of thing that I’ll never forget. 

As a native New Yorker, playing Maddison Square Gardens with him, must have been something quite special? 

It was just ridiculous, in a good way. I can’t even compare it to anything! I played there nine times, it was a huge life experience. It was a huge honour. I was literally pinching myself. Before I’m a musician, I’m a fan. I had all these people come to see the show that I was a fan of, people that are in my music library. I can’t express how outrageous it was that I got that opportunity. I mean even the concept that I’m doing this for a living sometimes still feels bizarre to me. Before all this, I used to have a bunch of real jobs.  

How did you feel when you were nominated for a Grammy Award? 

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Oh man! I mean, it’s not something that I ever expected. When we wrote the song, we never thought that it’d get nominated for a Grammy award, you know? To have it happen to you, is something else. Although it’s not why we do this, for awards or anything like that, but in a way it’s really nice. It’s like an acceptance and it feels like you’re doing something right. 

You did some gigs and toured parts of Europe last year, how was that experience? 

That was awesome, we did two European tours, they were amazing. I really loved it. I remember years ago we played this really small dark, bar when I first started out and we came to the UK and played London. There was a tiny stage, graffiti on the walls, it looked like such a punk-rock place, a place men would go to watch some serious bands and we turned up, I was really worried, initially! 

Was it Camden’s Barfly, by any chance?

Oh, you know it? Yes, that’s right! It looked like a punk-rock place, I thought someone was going to turn up, take their piercing outs and start throwing and start poking me with them or something (laughs). When the people started to turn up, they weren’t the crowd that we were expecting. They were really trendy, kinda somewhere between a bunch of jocks and hipsters you know, they were well dressed and smart dudes and most of them were all guys. We were all like – what is this? (laughs). It turned out to be one of the greatest gigs we’d done, the energy in the room was off the scale and all these jocks were bouncing up and down and crowd-surfing to the songs, it was crazy.

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Your UK fans would like to know when are you likely to be back in the UK? 

Oh, I’d love to come back sooner. Right now, we’re just structuring the tour schedule and if I can get back there within a year, I’d be happy. I’m getting to the point where when I come over, I’m starting to recognise buildings. I’d like to come over and spend more time there, meet the fans, hang out and be a tourist, you know? I’d really like to spend some more time there, that would be really cool. 

Thanks for chatting to us, Gavin!

Thanks, it’s been a pleasure. Happy New Year! 

Gavin DeGraw releases his new album, Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw in the UK on Monday, 2nd February 2015.

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