A raw, soulful voice. Honest lyrics. Charm for days. Artists don’t get any sweeter than Gavin DeGraw. Hence why we’ve been head-over-heels for the New York-born singer/songwriter since he broke onto the music scene with his smash hit and oft-covered tune, “I Don’t Want To Be,” from his debut album, Chariot.
Now Gavin’s out promoting album number four, the superb, soul-tinged pop set, Sweeter, and about to embark on a must-see tour with American Idol champ David Cook.
With so much going on in Gavin’s life, we jumped at the chance to chat with him about it all. But we couldn’t do the standard, ho-hum interview. We made him the latest victim of our 12 Random Questions interview, and what we ended up with was one of the most hilarious interviews we’ve ever done. Longtime fans, get ready for a fun read. New fans, get ready to fall in love.
Find out what Gavin likes on his burger, which singer he’d choose as the donor voice in a voice transplant, who performed his favorite cover of “I Don’t Want To Be,” the artist he’d love to hear cover a song on Sweeter, and many more random answers to our 12 random questions below:
1. If you had to rank your albums, which would come in as your favorite?
My favorite? I have to say, as far as albums go, I think this is my best record, the new one, Sweeter. I’m proud of the stuff I’ve done in the past and I feel really strongly about it, but I just feel like this record, as an artist, this record is me kind of hitting my stride.
Do you think that’s because you reached out to other writers to work with this time?
Yeah. I think that definitely is part of it. Instead of just writing every single song by myself like I’ve always done, the fact that there are [four] songs on here that I had someone co-write on — having Andrew Frampton co-write on two songs, and Ryan Tedder write on two songs with me — those things I think really helped diversify the album. That and also having multiple producers. I think that was a tremendous benefit for the album. Ryan produced two tracks, Ron Aniello, Eric Rosse who did the early Tori Amos records, and Butch Walker who I also think is incredible, who does all of Pink’s records. He’s work with a billion people and I just think he’s an incredibly gifted guy. So, I think that the fact that there were so many different people involved and so many personalities and each one of those personalities made their way onto the album, I think that’s what’s really helping this record stand out for me.
2. We hear your bar, National Underground, has the best burgers in town. What do you like on your burger?
Haha! Yes, I actually think it does have the best cheeseburger in town! I’m kind of basic with the burger. It’s such a good meat. It’s just cooked so correctly and seasoned so right that you don’t have to put too much on it. Lettuce, tomato, onion…I put sauteed onion on it. It’s ridiculous. I tell you, it’s amazing. And the reason I eat the beef is so I can save the trees.
[laughs] Oh my gosh. You’re a nut!
[laughs] It’s the environmentalist in me that’s eating the burger!
3. You recently said your song “Belief” is one of those songs you’re really proud of as a songwriter. As a singer, which one of your songs are you really proud of? Like, what’s the song that makes you go ‘Damn! I sang the hell out of that!”?
That’s funny! A proud moment vocally for me…a real solid vocal performance from me…let me think…from the new record or the old records?
The new sh*t, I would say…let me think. What do I want you to hear…check out “Soldier.”
Oh! I love “Soldier”!
You like that one? Thank you very much!
Gavin! I am a huge fan. I had the record playing before you called in.
Thank you so much!
I tweet you often to say how much I love it.
For real!? I have to look for one of your tweets.
I’ll tweet you after the interview and you can see how embarrassing I am. [laughs]
That is awesome! [laughs] It’s hard to find tweets sometimes because I don’t know how to manage my Twitter, so accidentally I’m actually following like 23,000 people and I just see the tweets pouring in and I’m like ‘what the hell?’ You know what I mean?
Well, you can’t unfollow now because a few fans would be heartbroken, so…
It’s true. I tried to start unfollowing people. I was like, ‘maybe I should start unfollowing people because there’s too many to actually write back and I’m not gonna get to anybody.’ So, I wasn’t even looking, I was just like ‘let me start unfollowing here, maybe unfollow here.’ And people started writing back like ‘what’s wrong with you, you dirtbag!?’ [laughs] It made me feel bad because I just wanted to organize it and make it more interesting for them.
Yeah, that’s not how Twitter works. Feelings get hurt on Twitter.
Yeah, I know. Look, true love only happens on Twitter.
4. Pick one song from Sweeter; what artist would you love to see do a cover of that song?
Let me see…hmmm…good question. Let me think about this. [long pause]
I didn’t mean to stump you.
Yeah, I know right? I wanna hear Bruno Mars do “You Know Where I’m At.”
Awesome! Oh my gosh, I was just saying how much I love your cover of “Grenade.” You two doing something together would be a dream come true.
I actually think he’s fantastic. He’s really gifted. His singing is really reminiscent of — his tone is really reminiscent of Sam Cooke. You know what I mean? It’s a really nice-sounding voice.
5. What’s the weirdest gift you’ve ever received from a fan?
This is tough. OK. I got one. A fan kept bringing me these painted wooden eggs.
Yeah. Exactly. One would have like the New York skyline on it. The other would have like American patriotism, like the flag on it. They were literally eggs that were made of wood, I think. They were painted and all colorful and really shiny and stuff like that. So, I think that was the strangest gift. That one was pretty… pretty… um…yeah, that was different. [laughs]
6. We’re really excited for your tour with David Cook. What’s your favorite David Cook song?
I guess the new one. He just put a new record out so let’s put that one out there. You gotta support the new single, you know what I’m saying?
7. If you were to have a voice transplant, which singer would you want to be the donor voice?
A voice transplant…donor voice… It would be kinda cool to have a big, deep voice. Know what I’m saying? [laughs] I think it would be kinda funny, me singing all big and deep looking how I look, which doesn’t seem like a big, deep voice. It would be funny. Who’s got a big, deep voice? Like Hank Williams Jr. Like big and deep like that. Like real, real deep.
That would be pretty freaky.
It would look kinda creepy right? [laughs]
It’s like low and deep and masculine. Something like that would be cool.
8. When you meet someone who isn’t familiar with what you do and you tell them your occupation, what’s their typical reaction?
Hmm…wait a second. I’m still thinking about this voice question. Let’s go with Ke$ha. I’ll take Ke$ha’s voice. That’ll be interesting.
Oh my gosh, who!?
No freakin’ way.
[laughs] Who’s that girl who did that song “Friday”?
That’s the one right there! Her voice!
Oh. My. Goodness!
What’s the next question now?
When you meet someone who isn’t…doesn’t…they…you’ve got me all messed up with Rebecca Black now! [laughs]
Friday! Friday! [laughs] I’m sorry. What’s the question?
When you meet someone who isn’t familiar with what you do and you tell them your occupation, what’s their typical reaction?
“I never heard of you.” [laughs] No, their reaction is usually, they say, ‘Oh, I have a cousin who’s in a band!’ That’s usually their reaction.
9. Has a fan ever sent you a naughty photo on Twitter?
Yeah, I think so. But I don’t know if it was Twitter. It takes all kinds, my friend.
10. What’s the last really humbling experience you had?
Two days ago, my bestfriend growing up called me and sent me some information to call a girl who’s not doing well. She’s got a form of terminal cancer. That was the most recent humbling moment. He said that I’m her favorite artist and to call her, so he sent me her information and I’m going to give her a call actually after these interviews.
11. It’s hard to move on from that, but if you had to make a remix of one of your songs with a guest verse by any rapper, what rapper would that be?
I like T-Pain! He’s a good hang. I hung out with him in the studio awhile back, so why not add him? One of my favorite covers of “I Don’t Want To Be” is T-Pain’s cover. Have you ever seen his cover?
I haven’t heard that!
It’s amazing! He shot a video. It’s amazing.
I have to look that up.
You really have to look that up. Check out the dude wearing the stripes in the back, he looks like Cookie Crisp.
12. What did you dream about last night?