Gavin DeGraw broke into the music scene with his debut album “Chariot” in 2003. It was an album that may have gone unrecognized until the hit television series One Tree Hill picking up “I Don’t Want to Be” as their theme song. DeGraw was then put in the position to earn platinum certification, selling over a million copies.
The artist was in Joliet on July 2 where he performed his latest hit single “In Love with a Girl” among other hits at the Rialto Square Theatre.
We caught up to DeGraw at the Rialto when he took time out of his schedule to film a commercial for the City of Joliet Visitor’s Bureau and tape a live interview for Comcast.
“This place is beautiful,” DeGraw said of the main lobby of the Rialto. “I didn’t expect it to be this grand.”
DeGraw spoke of his recent appearance on Letterman in New York where he spends a lot of his time crashing at his brother’s house.
“I have known Paul Schaeffer for a long time as well as the other musicians,” said DeGraw. “I am comfortable in the studio with them and enjoy being on the show.”
He quickly added a bit of advice for anyone ever planning to attend Letterman.
“It is the coldest studio in the history of television,” he said with a grin. “Really, take a sweater if you ever plan to go.”
In a very short time it was apparent that DeGraw enjoyed joking with those around him in a manner that you were never quite sure if it was a joke or not.
DeGraw’s latest album – the self titled “Gavin DeGraw” – was released on May 6 after the singer spent a year to writing it.
“It has more of a rock edge to it,” said DeGraw. “It has plenty of energy to it also.”
He said after his first album and touring he learned to consider the live reaction to a song when writing it.
DeGraw didn’t just break onto the scene with a hit though he grew up playing piano when he was eight years old and later played in cover bands with his brother in New York.
He attended Berklee School of Music in Boston for a short time before taking a chance in New York City as a new singer song writer on the scene.
DeGraw arrived in New York City in the late 90s and spent the next few years taking gigs in any place that would have him including a restaurant where he also waited tables.
DeGraw said his musical influences were the artists of his parent’s generation in the 60s and 70s.
“I like the Beatles, the Kinks, Jethro Tull,” said DeGraw. “Later I learned to like early R&B and James Brown. I’m really just a music fan.”
He said if he could play with any artist on tour he chose he would pick someone like Tom Petty or Elton John.
Fans of his latest album notice the theme of love and relationships as they listen and DeGraw said they inevitably ask who the girl is.
“It’s not one girl,” said DeGraw. “I draw from all my experiences.”
He said life on the tour bus was something to get used to.
“It’s like going back to when you were eight years old,” DeGraw said. “The only thing is we are a little past eight now, but you can imagine it’s like a submarine on the highway.”
He said with a straight face followed by his now familiar grin the downside to being on the bus is that you can’t get off when you want to.
“You get up and you think it would be nice to go outside,” said DeGraw. “But you have to make sure it’s not moving.”
DeGraw said One Tree Hill opened doors for him but his job is now to keep those doors open.
“That’s the trick,” he said. “There are some rooting for me because of that song but there are others rooting against me because of it.”