Contemporary pop singer-pianist Gavin DeGraw has been a commercial success for less than a decade, yet that was good enough to land him a spot on last seasons Dancing With the Stars.
DeGraw was axed from the popular ABC series after only five weeks, but the 35-year-old views it as another highlight in what has been an unusually great year.
It wasnt so great, though, on Aug. 8, 2011, when DeGraw was beaten by a group of thugs on a New York City street late one night. He suffered a broken nose, concussion and facial lacerations. But he rebounded with a successful new album, Sweeter, in September, featuring the top single Not Over You.
In a recent phone interview, DeGraw talked about being on the road, the impact of Dancing With the Stars on his career, and the upcoming anniversary of the attack.
Q. Touring has a mystique to it, in part because its often glorified by musicians. But do you ever grow weary of being on the road?
A. The road gives and takes. Its better than sitting in one place for too long. The great downside of being on the road is that when you start putting it all together, youre in a bus. Thats not the downside. Youre at a venue. Thats not the downside. The downside is that youre in a parking lot somewhere. Whether its inside the building or outside the building, your scenery tends to be a parking lot. Other than that, the road is pretty cool.
The fact is, when youre out on the road, thats your time to make a living. Thats your opportunity to go out and get it.
Q. How much songwriting do you do on the road?
A. You dont do as much as youd like to. It makes it a little bit harder because I dont have a piano set up in this particular bus that Im on, but I keep a guitar with me, though, so my writing is limited to the guitar. Im a little bit shorthanded in that way because Im primarily a piano player. I get some writing done, mostly just ideas. I dont have as many complete songs written on the road, but I have hundreds and hundreds of beginnings of songs.
Q. With your appearance on Dancing with the Stars, what kind of impact are you seeing in terms of audience support for your shows?
A. Im not going to crush it in every single market, but I am seeing a huge improvement at the live shows and some shows are selling out. Certainly thats in direct correlation to the success of the single and to the album and to the other things that (Im) doing, and maybe the addition of Dancing with the Stars. I know that gets some people interested. Each of them really helps. Its been a really special year. Im hoping that well get around to a third single and then from that point maybe go back to Europe, then to the studio (and release a new record) and do it all over again.
I recently read someone who said the most important thing now is for artists to continually put out new stuff instead of the old format of go make an album that you need to have out for three years. (Its) taking the route of continually putting out songs for the people who are interested in listening to you versus not worrying about somebody who is going to hopefully like you. I think that couldnt be more on the money, making sure that youre putting out as much material as possible. What you want is for people to be talking about you. You need to give a reason for them to, and if youre not theyll be talking about somebody else.
Q. The year anniversary of your assault is coming up. Any thoughts?
A. I dont even think about it, its so odd. The year has been so unbelievably special I feel like its so far in the distant past; it feels like five years ago to me. Ive done so much living in the past year I didnt even realize its been a year ago. This past year has been like I have the winning lottery ticket ... and Im enjoying walking to the government center to pick up my winnings.