Gillian Welch and David Rawlings: Welcome To The Machine

What was the turning point where you decided the Dave Rawlings Machine was something worth seriously pursuing, that you’d put new material into this and record it?

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DR: It happened gradually, as most things like that do. …I had recorded some stuff earlier. Like a year ago I went in and recorded a few of the covers. I’d thought about maybe releasing some of that stuff—nothing that’s on the record, but just another batch…

GW: “Sweet Tooth” kind of got put in first. DR: Yeah, maybe so. I mean, we initially thought that I would just probably sing “Sweet Tooth” on Gill’s record. Because I had had an idea to write that song, and then we had just sat down with Morgan Nagler [of Whispertown 2000], who wrote it with us, and knocked it out in a day, or a couple days. And then when we were trying to arrange it, we had decided that we kind of liked me singing lead on it.

GW: Well, the whole idea to write that kind of blues was so you could sing it.

DR: Right.

GW: Like, part of the initial idea was, “Oh, Dave would sound good singing this kind of whatever-you-want-to-call-that kind of country-blues.”

DR: Well, I just call it “Candy Man [Blues].” I wasn’t singing “Candy Man [Blues],” though. I had heard a version of a song like that and I’d liked it. I really like that particular little blues form that that song exists in. I thought it was really interesting that the lines don’t have to rhyme.

GW: And the rhyme can move.

DR: And I thought, “Well, that’ll be a ball, to try to write a song with a bunch of verses that goes like that, because you’re not tied into anything.” And so it worked really well, to collaborate with Morgan and Gillian, and sit and all come up with verses, and then smash them all together. And use the first half of this, and the second half of that, and turn it into a little story. But this was actually a question about how did it occur to us to make this record.

GW: Like, when did we start working on originals for it.

DR: I mean, I don’t think that I was even remotely sure that this was something that we would do or release until we were most of the way through the studio stuff and we had a little pile of stuff that seemed like it was OK. It was only nine songs, so there weren’t that many, but when there were four or five things that seemed like we shouldn’t throw them away, then we were somewhat serious about it. Previous to that, it was just sort of like, “Well, we know we could play these things, and we could go in the studio and record them and get decent versions.” It seemed like the responsible thing to do. [Laughs]


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  1. I am a fan of both Gillian and Dave from what I know through the Gillian albums. The new music from the Dave Rawlings Machine is just as captivating and I’m enjoying each listen. Thank you for this interview. I appreciate the look inside the workings at the machine. If you ever come out Montana-way, I sure hope to have the chance to see you in person.

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Chris Woods, EVP of TuneSat