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Gavin DeGraw: On His New Single and How DWTS Changed the Way He Performs

In the midst of countless dance tunes on the radio, Gavin DeGraw's new single is a breath of fresh air and will definitely be stuck in your head for weeks. (All photos by Brianne Nemiroff)

In today’s world, it’s hard to only do one thing at a time.
I always have to check my email, update my social media, take care of household work, and, somehow, factor in sleep. Because I am so busy trying to prevent things from going wrong, I rarely think about what I’ve done right in my life. So, now I make time to unwind to think about my accomplishments to make sure I stay motivated. This is why I love Gavin DeGraw’s new single, “Best I’ve Ever Had.” From his wide range of themes in the song, you can tell he’s also thinking about 20 things at once: the government, society, but all whilst taking a moment to reminisce about the best times he’s had with a previous flame. It’s very much how I think in my daily life and his thoughts
also come with catchy background music.

Gavin DeGraw toured with Train and The Script this summer as he’s about to release his next album in October. I recently watched his performance at the America’s Cup Pavilion in San Francisco on August 11. Sadly, the average person in the audience was late, or distracted, so they were not at full attention during his performance, or at least until he walked into the stands. Then the entire stadium flocked to him in attempts of touching his hand, or even better, someone pinched his butt, as he proudly announced into his microphone.

For his entire time slot, he not only moved all around the stage, but also encorporated audience participation by clapping along with “Best I’ve Ever Had” and “Not Over You”. What made it even better was that his style of clapping, and stepping simultaneously, echoed flamenco dancing. I’ve definitely never seen that before at a rock show.

All night, Gavin DeGraw dazzled us with a few songs off his upcoming album as well as played his classics, and even a cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors”. Needless to say, even if an audience member only came to the concert as a fan of Train’s, they left a fan of Gavin’s. And those who came as a fan of Gavin’s will never be “over” him.

Q&A with Gavin DeGraw

1) You were reluctant to start playing piano but eventually started lessons at age eight. What made you want to play and eventually write your own music?

Well, I think I started playing because I was more jealous that my other siblings had started to play. I thought I should do it, too. Primarily, I only played when the teacher came over.
I wasn’t exactly sitting around playing all week long. I would rather hang out with my friends. I would show up to my lessons, but I was not a good student.

I started getting a hold of pop sheet music. That’s when I started to really play and I became a lot more interested in music. I always had ideas for melodies, but I never really sat down and tried to write the songs until
I was around 15 or 16. My brother challenged me to [start writing].

2) Did learning to dance on Dancing with the Stars teach you anything about writing music or performing? (DeGraw was on Season 14 partnered with Karina Smirnoff)

I think it put music into different terms for me in a way that I never really thought for myself. [Before the show], tapping my foot was dancing to me. It was never about moving my body; it was just about feeling something inside of you. It made me think about it. I started to hear [the music] differently.

It [also] allowed me to find those grooves within the music in my live performance. It changed my posture and my stage presence.
I actually see a difference [in concert photos].
And, it actually improves my singing. It’s crazy. There are certain [songs] live that can be challenging and [it’s helped me] to hit the note. Dancing has freed my body.

Plus, dancing helps [develop] the muscles in your lower abs. Those are hot.

3) The lyrics in your new single, “Best I Ever Had” seem to cover a variety of themes. You bring up themes of love, social issues, and living on the road.
What is it really about
to you?

Right away, we just had this huge variety of things. We had one main theme of “object of affection”, the blueprint of the song . It gives you a lot of freedom as a writer and everyone can think about who was the “best they ever had”. It allowed me to have this incredible honesty about things that were going through my head.

4) How many funny, or possibly inappropriate, signs have you gotten since your new single “Best I’ve Ever Had” has been released?

Well, we just started the tour, about a month ago. I’ve seen a couple of signs, but typically i’m so busy trying to remember all of the words [to my songs to read them].

5) Taking a lyric from “Best I Ever Had”, “I’m looking at the crowd and they’re staring at their phones”, I noticed you respond often to your fans on Twitter. Do you find if you interact with them more that they are more courteous to you?

My opinion of Twitter is that it’s not only for famous people to have public relationships with each other. It’s for reaching out to your fanbase. I feel that you get to hear real opinions about your songs and about what they want and don’t want from you. I welcome the criticism. It’s an essential part [of what I do]. I want to know if what I’m doing is being received well or not.

6) Sweeter was the first album you collaborated on with other writers. Did you decide to work with other writers again for this upcoming album?

This record has even more collaboration than the last record. I felt like I had such good experiences co-writing so I just kept doing it and found people that I wrote well with. You get to write so many more songs, have a bigger catalog to choose from and try out. It really sheds a lot of light on a lot of different kinds of
creativity, Getting their opinions on how they hear things [makes you] more diverse as an artist. Hearing what they like, even if you don’t like certain music or artists they like, opens your mind to what they like about it.

7) How’s touring with Train and the Script?

Amazing. It’s been really special. You can never predict what the tour is going to be like, what the audience is going to be like, or how it is backstage. The personalities on the tour have all been great; the community element of it backstage is translating onstage.

I genuinely think the artists like each other and each other’s music. They speak well about the other artists to the audience. It feels like one cohesive show instead of enemy tribes. It’s really beautiful. When you have artists like Train, The Script, One Republic, and a variety of artists, when people are making music that is good, and people can speak well of each other instead of just how great they, themselves, are, it creates a different music industry.

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Fans at the meet and greet in San Francisco on August 11th

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Alexis’s custom shoes she designed and had signed by Gavin DeGraw


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