In the fleeting world of music, Dawes believes there’s only one guarantee: We’re all gonna die.
That might sound awfully dark or even outright bleak, especially for a chilled-out folk-rock record released in these trying times. But for Los Angeles band Dawes, it’s a beautifully communal statement, capable of reassuring us that we’re all the same. That’s why the band titled its latest LP, We’re All Gonna Die.
“It’s the one thing that we all know,” said keyboardist Lee Pardini. “Life is short and we’re not here forever, and you’ve got to make the most of it. A lot of songs on the record are stories told through that lens, where you have to make due, make the most of it, and just live your life.”
The newest member of Dawes, Pardini is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music with a degree in jazz. He first crossed paths with Dawes back in 2012 at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco.
They soon found out they had many other mutual friends back home in L.A. So when longtime former Dawes keyboardist Tay Strathairn decided to leave the band in late 2015 due to musical differences, Pardini quickly received a call to come jam.
“There was never any sort of awkward transition,” Pardini said of joining Dawes four albums in. “They were so welcoming and so open to what I was bringing to the table keyboard-wise and personality-wise. It was such an easy thing for me to fit into.”
Adopted into Dawes’ musical family — which also includes vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Taylor Goldsmith, drummer Griffin Goldsmith and bassist Wylie Gelber — Pardini dove into the deep end. He played shows with the band almost immediately and set about recording We’re All Gonna Die less than a year later.
“Even though Griff and Taylor are the only natural brothers, it does kind of feel like we all are,” Pardini said of the band’s chemistry. “We get along great, and I think people can feel that energy onstage. We just really like each other and love playing music together.”
Known for a Laurel Canyon sound, reminiscent of Southern Californian singer-songwriters of the ’70s, Dawes last appeared in Kalamazoo at Wings Stadium back in 2013 while supporting the one-and-only Bob Dylan. The band also has toured with such other legends as Jackson Browne and The Band’s Robbie Robertson, as well as appearing at major festivals across the country.
Released last September, We’re All Gonna Die was produced by former bandmate and longtime friend Blake Mills. It features guest appearances from Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Wil Oldham and Mandy Moore.
In support of the album, Dawes is currently on a 50-city tour, performing a full evening of music with two sets of songs selected from the entirety of the band’s five LP catalog. So far on the tour, the band has explored new arrangements for old songs — some of which haven’t been played live in years — including several new acoustic renditions.
“I don’t know if any of us really knew what to expect with the Evening with Dawes shows,” Pardini said. “But I think we’re all in agreement that it’s so much fun to be able to play the hits, and also have the freedom to extend certain songs, and also get into some deep kind of jams, and then play some deeper album cuts.
“It’s really a treat, because everyone has an opportunity to shine.”
Kalamazoo State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo
March 18, 7 p.m., $33.50
kazoostate.com, (269) 345-6500