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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 season's 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 wasn't so great, though, in early August, 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 late September, featuring the top single "Not Over You."
Known for the hits "I Don't Want to Be," "Chariot," "In Love with a Girl," and "Cheated on Me," DeGraw performs Wednesday night at Centennial Terrace, 5773 Centennial Rd. in Sylvania. Tickets are priced at $52, $42, and $27.50 and are available at the Stranahan Theater box office, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., by phone at 1-800-745-3000, and online at ticketmaster.com. Singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat ("Bubbly") is the opening act.
In a recent phone interview, The Blade talked with DeGraw 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 it's often glorified by musicians. But do you ever grow weary of being on the road?
A: The road gives and takes. It's 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, you're in a bus. That's not the downside. You're at a venue. That's not the downside. The downside is that you're in a parking lot somewhere. Whether it's 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 you're out on the road, that's your time to make a living. That's your opportunity to go out and get it.
Q: How much songwriting do you do on the road?
A: You don't do as much as you'd like to. It makes it a little bit harder because I don't have a piano set up in this particular bus that I'm on, but I keep a guitar with me, though, so my writing is limited to the guitar. I'm a little bit shorthanded in that way because I'm primarily a piano player. I get some writing done, mostly just ideas. I don't 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: I'm 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 that's in direct correlation to the success of the single and to the album and to the other things that [I'm] doing, and maybe the addition of Dancing with the Stars. I know that gets some people interested. Each of them really helps. It's been a really special year. I'm hoping that we'll 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. [It's] 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 couldn't be more on the money, making sure that you're 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 you're not they'll be talking about somebody else.
Q: The year anniversary of your assault is coming up. Any thoughts?
A: I don't even think about it, it's so odd. The year has been so unbelievably special I feel like it's so far in the distant past; it feels like five years ago to me. I've done so much living in the past year I didn't even realize it's been a year ago. This past year has been like I have the winning lottery ticket ... and I'm enjoying walking to the government center to pick up my winnings.
Contact Kirk Baird at email@example.com or 419-724-6734.