Gavin DeGraw’s brand of blue-eyed pop-rock, accessible to all ages, has carried him far. The breakout album Chariot spawned a mega-hit in “I Don’t Want to Be,” and follow-up singles “Follow Through,” “Chariot,” and “Not Over You” (from the album Sweeter). He’s a mainstay of pop-music soundtracks for film and TV, and his latest single, “Best I Ever Had” came out on June 18. DeGraw plays Klipsch Music Center tonight alongside The Script in support of headliner Train. Here are edited excerpts from our phone conversation:
IM: You were in Indy recently for a concert on Monument Circle. [The 500 Festival’s REV Your Engines concert on April 27.] How did that go?
GD: It went well.
IM: Are you a racing fan?
GD: Oh, yes.
IM: Really? Who were you rooting for in the last 500? Tony [Kanaan]?
GD: I rooted for the guy who introduced me at the concert. You’re going to have to look that one up.
IM: All right, I will. [Answer: IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe.]
GD: Nice guy. Super-nice guy. That was a beautiful night. We played at Monument Circle. Beautiful place. The sound was great. And I’ll say I always enjoy myself when in Indianapolis, but it looked like it had undergone some aesthetic improvements since the last time I was in the downtown area.
IM: Really? When’s the last time you visited?
GD: It’s probably been four to five years since I last visited.
IM: That’s interesting. So have you ever been to a 500 race?
GD: Nope, I’ve never been to one.
IM: You’ve never partied at the track?
GD: I’ve partied at tracks before but not Indy. I’ve been up to one in Seneca Lake, New York, before. I’ve actually only been to NASCAR races. It’s like picking the wrong team right now. But I love racing. I used to go to stock-car racing when I was growing up at the county fair where I grew up. I think in general, guys like cars.
IM: That’s funny. All right, switching gears. Let’s talk about your latest hit, “Not Over You.”
GD: Well, I wrote that song with a friend of mine named Ryan Tedder. He’s a singer for OneRepublic. I think Ryan is a special writer. He has a special talent. He’s a special producer. We were out at his place in Denver, and we were going over some bits and pieces of a song. He played the piano a bit, and I was like, yeah, we can definitely start there. We started there, and then ended up with the song. We felt like we had a contender for a first single and the rest was a series of lucky strokes that made it a hit. You know every artist hopes fans will connect with their songs because it really changes your career. I really hadn’t had a hit prior to that song for years.
IM: Were you expecting that response from fans?
GD: No, I don’t ever expect. I hope. The fans really grabbed it, and it went way beyond my expectations, which is really the goal of any artist. Every artist wants to be appreciated. You’re always looking for something that is true for you, and that is appreciated by people.
IM: What’s the oddest thing a fan has ever said to you?
GD: Um, they say some weird s— sometimes. You know, most people are actually respectful and cool. But sometimes, even somebody who is really cool will say something weird. This has happened multiple times. They will be like, me and my boyfriend, or girlfriend, husband, wife, or lover f— to your music all the time.
IM: That is weird. And how does that make you feel?
GD: [Laughs] Like maybe I should go hop in the shower right now.
IM: Would you ever date a fan?
GD: I would never rule anything out. I think that any relationship requires some level of balance so as long as that wouldn’t interfere with the balance. You kind of need that someone to be your “fan,” even if they aren’t in the audience and asking for autographs.
Gavin DeGraw will perform at Klipsch Music Center on Friday, July 19, with Train and The Script.