Devin Dawson on His Heavy Metal History: ‘Welcome to My Rebellion’
Devin Dawson's start in a heavy metal band was the epitome of teenage rebellion, but that doesn't mean they weren't any good.
Roughly a decade ago, Dawson's group Shadow of the Colossus toured and were signed to MetalBlade Records, a legit record label. This three-to-five year era of his life was hardly glamorous, and the band's business decisions made it even more of a grind. For example: they shunned iTunes, Spotify and other money making ventures, choosing instead to allow fans to stream music for free on sites like Bandcamp (the music is still there!).
"Welcome to my high school years," the Orangevale, Calif., native says. "Welcome to my rebellion."
Shadow of the Colossus (which also included Dawson's twin brother, Jacob) were stereotypically idealistic — Dawson recalls promising that he'd be metal for life! — but eventually, touring took its toll. The "Asking for a Friend" singer refers to it as slum touring, where you drive from show to show in a beat up van and ask the fans if you can stay with them and if their moms might make you a meal.
A pair of incidents changed his course.
"We were in a northern winter tour, which is the worst decision ever in Northern America," he recalls during his Taste of Country RISER interview. "We had a trailer, the bearing seized up and we had to get it fixed ... and we had to pay like $1,000 that we didn't have."
"And so we're hauling ass to try to get to the next show because we needed it to eat, we needed it to get gas," he explains. A snow drift on a highway in Wyoming caught the trailer, which fish-tailed and pulled the van into an embankment, causing them to roll over twice. They were fine, but they had to find help at 4AM in the middle of a dark Wyoming highway.
"That was a turning point for me of like, 'Is it worth it?'" Dawson recalls. Another incident driving through the south in the summer was less dramatic, but equally frustrating. Combined with maturity, these incidents flipped his script.
"I just grew out of it, man. It didn’t fulfill me toward the end," he says. "I got older and realized I wanted to hear and say different things."
He'll joke with his brother and another friend that flipping the van was the best thing he did for them, as they're all successful songwriters in Nashville now. Dawson co-wrote all 12 songs on his Dark Horse album, including his Top 5 debut hit "All on Me." In addition to becoming Taste of Country's first RISER of 2018, the 29-year-old will hit the road with Brett Eldredge this spring and summer. He's slated to play the Taste of Country Music Festival in June.
Devin Dawson's "Asking for a Friend" Will Melt You