His polished music discography includes a wealth of singles and projects, adding to the collection he has recently shared his seventh and most personal album “Face The River”. Paying homage to his late parents, the album shares memories of his parents and their story. The 10 track project gives a deeper understanding of their lives and shows the pure love his parents had for each other.
Gavin DeGraw recently embarked on a 20 date tour as part of his headlining Full Circle Tour, which took him to Las Vegas, New Orleans, Nashville, New York and many more states across the United States. Back in April he also shared his documentary series, “Face The River”, with six episodes already on his YouTube channel it gives an enhanced insight to the album and his story and as viewers, we go on that journey with him.
Crossing paths with Gavin as he releases his album “Face The River”, which is out now, we had the opportunity to speak with him about his latest project. He also discussed his relationship with his parents, touring, his recent documentary and performing on stage with Billy Joel, Maroon 5 and Shania Twain.
“Face The River” is a personal and powerful song. What is the meaning behind the single?
Face The River is about facing your problems. You’re facing that thing you need to cross – some challenge or something up ahead that there is no avoiding. When I wrote the song, I visualized my father (who was very ill at the time) looking across the river at my mom who had passed away a few years earlier.
The music video for “Face The River” and the forthcoming album is dedicated to your parents. Tell us more about your relationship with your parents and how their story influences your album?
My parents lived for their children. They were very different but also had a lot in common in that they were both dreamers. They instilled in us that if you wanted to pursue your destiny, you needed to be fearless and all in on your chosen path. Another song on the album, “Freedom (Johnny’s Song)” is so much of my parent’s biography. It reveals a lot about our family life from the day-to-day grind and what each of my parents were doing and why they were doing it. It also talks about the hopes they had and what we as teenagers were trying to wrap our heads around. I just wanted to document and pay homage to that throughout this album.
Did your parents have an impact on your relationship with music and your career as a musician?
Very much so. Both of my parents were musicians. My dad played music for a living when he was younger and my mom played music at church. They both sang, played guitar and even a little piano. They also wrote songs so there was a lot of that in my house growing up. Obviously, they did other things for a living as they got older and responsibilities grew, but they were both very musical.
You’ve also released six episodes of your new documentary series, “Face The River”. What inspired you to create a documentary-style series and how was the filming process? It must have been a therapeutic experience.
I like to take road trips and go see the sights that I miss when I’m out touring. Usually, when you’re on tour, you play a city somewhere and then you travel by bus at night and wake up in the next city. You miss all of the scenery on the drive and I wanted to go see that! On top of that, driving is therapy for me as well. It allows me to be preoccupied enough that I’m not getting sucked up into my thoughts. When bad stuff happened around my life, it made me want to do that even more. When my father lost my mother, he used to do that. My brother does it as well. I also thought looking for new ground reflected what this album sounds like. To me, it’s a road trip – thought-provoking, introspective but also tapping into a piece of freedom inside of us that wants to take that long ride somewhere and reflect.
The ‘Full Circle Tour’ just wrapped around numerous states in America. How did the tour go?
Great. Playing for people is how I get normal. It’s been my job since I was a kid and having that taken from me over the past couple of years (due to COVID) was really hard because that was me being told I can’t be normal. Removing my job from me was also removing the thing I did as a hobby. It was a lot to lose, but to be able to go do it again is like “home cooking” – it’s what I need and what I’m used to. It’s been nice to see people reacting to the music and getting back in touch with the audience.
I saw your tweet that you’ll be performing “Face The River” album in its entirety during the show. How has the fan reaction been so far?
Playing this record live has just been amazing. The audiences have been deeply in it. The emotional connection that we’re having, being able to talk about the songs, share stories, and deliver the music in a true classic troubadour sense, (especially in a small room) has been really special. I feel there is a message in the music that needs to be shared and I want to share it. It’s been overwhelmingly positive.
Do you have plans to tour Europe? It would be great to see you perform in London!
I’d love to! That is definitely on my list of to-dos’. It’s been way too long. I’d love to get back out to London. I’ve played there many times but not enough times in my opinion! I’d prefer for it to be an annual thing. We need to be seeing each other, connecting with one another, and sharing our stories.
The album explores fond memories of your parents. What other fond memories do you have not only with your parents but key fond moments in your career?
I had a great moment actually with my folks in Milan, Italy. We went out for a walk and came upon a homeless guy in roller skates and headphones. He was staring at a storefront singing to himself and as we got closer we realized he was singing “Chariot”. We were beside ourselves and felt incredible that this music is really making its way around the world.
Performing on stage with Billy Joel, Maroon 5 and Shania Twain must have been a key moment! How was it to share the stage with them? 2022 is set to be an exciting year, good luck with the album and the rest of the tour.
Each of those acts have treated me really well over the years. Maroon 5 took me out early in my career. Their first album was really just hitting at the time and “Chariot” was just about to come out. They were really good to me and it’s been great to be part of a community of artists who do the same thing as you for a living. We also did a run with Shania and we dueted together every night, which is a real trip because you’re looking at artists who you admire and they’re supporters of what you’re doing and your art. In the same way, meeting Billy Joel was incredible. He has been such a giant influence on me since I was a kid. It was such an honour to have him saying he’s been hearing a lot about me and then doing tour dates, trading verses on stage, etc. is really just crazy stuff. It’s been a great run and I feel like it’s only the beginning.