So when Goose’s Fred the Festival opened the doors for the band to understand all that is the Black Sabbath Universe, they said they’ll, “be doing the album all the justice we can.” We spoke with Taylor Goldsmith about the stories, changes, and self-discoveries that finally led to playing an upcoming Black Sabbath Paranoid set at LOCKN’ Farm.
Taylor, we read in an interview that your dad played in Sweathog, a rock band that opened up for Black Sabbath in the 70s. Did this moment influence your decision to play an entire set dedicated to Black Sabbath? Was Black Sabbath a band that you listened to growing up? Did your parents do anything while you were growing up to encourage your music influences?
Our dad’s band Sweathog toured with Sabbath through all three of the major US touring cycles for Paranoid, Master of Reality, and Vol. 4. How incredible that it was lost on us until recently because we had never gotten into the band in a deep way. Griffin was the first and then kept playing it for the rest of us. I got a little obsessed during the pandemic and started trying to listen beyond just the pure enjoyment and started trying to figure out what made them tick – not just as a unit, but also as individual musicians and as songwriters. Their sense of structure and arrangement is so monumental while the building blocks that they’re working with stay so simple and straightforward. It fits so firmly at the center of what we hear as hard rock/heavy metal, and yet is completely singular. And now getting our dad to tell us all his crazy tour stories is quite the bonus.
In the announcement for FRED the Festival on June 2, Dawes said in a Facebook post that, “We’ve always been into Black Sabbath, but the pandemic found me getting INTO Black Sabbath. It really clicked that they have that once-in-a-generation DNA as a rock band that so few ever attain. Like when you hear them play a song you’ve never heard you still know it’s them just from their tones, their feel, the way they hit their instruments….” What songs have you been listening to on repeat lately? Has the band ever considered doing an entire Black Sabbath set like this before now?
Right now, I guess I’ve gone back into Paranoid just to learn all these songs. There’s so much to remember! Songs I write have a few verses, a few choruses, maybe a bridge, one more chorus and that’s it. Their songs can have up 8 -10 unique sections. It goes way beyond standard song structures – at least based on my education of it all. Before getting back into this record for this show though, I was listening to a lot of Vol. 4.
We’ve never considered doing ANY record all the way through, let alone Black Sabbath. When we first decided we were gonna do something like this for FRED, our initial ideas were a little on the nose for our band – Brothers In Arms, At Fillmore East, Born In The USA, etc. Any of those would have been fun but wouldn’t necessarily show a side of us people haven’t already seen. Paranoid felt like a good opportunity for us to stretch and challenge ourselves, but also be true to what’s firing us up at this moment in our life as a band.
Dawes has never done a set where they cover an entire album from start to finish. We’re honored that you choose to do so at LOCKN’ Farm! What would you say to the die-hard fans and newbies, about why they absolutely can’t miss this moment in your career?
I like to think that this is the beginning of a new chapter for our band. Not that we’re gonna be constantly covering records, but that we wanna use the stage show as more than just an opportunity to dip back into our catalogue each night. We want to go deeper, we wanna get weirder, we wanna surprise ourselves and our fan base more than we have thus far.
You’ve described your music as a “‘blend of amplified folk-rock.” Some fans have said they “literally cannot imagine Dawes playing Black Sabbath” and that they have to hear that for themselves. How do you and the rest of the band intend to make the intense transition into the heavy metal genre with your Black Sabbath set in August? What other feedback have you been receiving about the announcement?
Our main goal with the set is maintaining our own identity and sensibility. We want it to sound like Dawes playing Black Sabbath songs. We don’t want it to just sound like Black Sabbath. As an example – I can’t play guitar as fast as Tony Iommi and I don’t wanna waste anybody’s time with trying to. I’d rather hear what it sounds like to have me play the way I play over these songs. And that goes for all 5 of us. Especially Lee! There’s no extensive keys playing on Sabbath albums so watching what Lee brings to it is going to really make these songs ours.
Paranoid is full of timeless classics such as “War Pigs,” and “Iron Man,” among others. Out of the entire album, is there one song that the band is particularly excited to play for fans?
All of the really meaty ones. All the ones that go beyond 6 minutes with all sorts of opportunities for us to get that number up to 10 and up. That includes War Pigs and Iron Man obviously, but also Fairies Wear Boots, Electric Funeral, and Hand Of Doom – I think I’m most excited for Hand Of Doom. The middle sections are bonkers.
Ozzy Osbourne is, undoubtedly, a legend for his outrageous stage presence. Does the band have any special plans to help replicate Ozzy’s unique on-stage personality throughout the set?
It’s true that Ozzy’s a God of frontmen and I’m definitely mindful of that and hope that informs me in some way – but like I was saying up above, I don’t want it to ever get to a point where I’m doing an impersonation. A lot of people can do that – and way better than I could. I want it to sound like I wrote the song, not like I’m covering it.
Dawes has been described in the past as a band that provides a “dynamic live experience.” How do you guys intend to bring this type of energy into your Black Sabbath set?
There are so many moments for us to take these songs beyond the recordings we all know them as. After all, the album is 40 minutes but our set time is way longer than that. We wanna stretch out as much as we can where it feels natural and appropriate.
In 2015, you said in an interview with Glide Magazine that the Grateful Dead have “arguably the most committed and unique fans a band could ever ask for.” What is it like for you to be playing at LOCKN’ Farm, a venue that has had deep roots within the entire Grateful Dead community? Can we hope for a Dead cover over the weekend?
The Grateful Dead community has a better sense than anyone that songs are living things. What can fall flat one night can be the ultimate highlight the next night. It all depends on how much you’re willing to risk. Which sometimes feels impossible if the audience isn’t able to meet you there. The LOCK’N farm seems to be full of music fans that understand this inherently, which makes any band they’re experiencing way better than they could ever be otherwise. We can’t wait to play on the Farm and hope it’s the first of a great many.
I think us playing a Dead song is always possible! We have plenty in our back pocket at all times. For a while, we were playing Jerry’s version of “I’ll Take A Melody” at a bunch of shows and it could be fun to bring it back out.