Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Dylan Gossett on Viral Hit ‘Coal,’ New EP ‘Songs in the Gravel’

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Even in country’s current era of overnight successes and viral sensations, Dylan Gossett stands out.

Barely a year ago, the Austin, Texas, native had a day job and experimented with posting his music online on a whim. Fueled by the success of his debut, “To Be Free,” which amassed more than 18 million Spotify streams, and his breakout, “Coal,” Gossett can seemingly do no wrong at the moment. He is early in his No Better Time headlining tour, which this week included sold-out shows in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Chicago with support from Ole 60, another band in the midst of an unexpected rise into the stratosphere.

Now, Gossett — who turned 25 earlier this month — is working to build a catalog that matches his soaring popularity. His second EP, the four-song Songs in the Gravel, hits streaming platforms on Friday. The first single, “Bitter Winds,” has been out since February.

“I really wanted to make sure this EP was out as soon as possible with this spring tour so that the fans have more songs they can recognize and enjoy,” Gossett tells Rolling Stone.

The EP, the songwriter’s second after last fall’s No Better Time, is written entirely by Gossett, who says he was inspired by his formative years playing songs around a campfire at his grandfather’s house on Lake Buchanan, near Burnet, Texas.

“Growing up there, I fell in love with music as my family and I spent weekends and holidays sitting in the gravel around the campfire playing songs — years before I ever even dreamed of a music career,” he says. “I wanted to let my audience into that world.”

Gossett chose a photo of one of those campfires as the cover of the EP.

Dylan Gossett backstage at Rolling Stone’s Future of Music Showcase at SXSW in Austin. Photo: Dusana Risovic

The collection mixes storytelling and self-reflection, and Gossett delivers with authority in his voice. His vocals are classically raspy, but he has a range and confidence in his singing that slyly commands a listener’s attention.

Gossett is also touring with a band after a year of performing solo. His Texas-based five-piece made its debut this month during South by Southwest at Rolling Stone‘s Future of Music Showcase, held at ACL Live at the Moody Theater — It was Gossett’s first time playing with a band.

When you would sit by the fire playing songs, what kind of music were you playing, and what was influencing you?
During Easter or Christmas, when the whole family is there, everybody sits around a campfire and starts passing around guitars. It’s usually me, my brother and my cousin — just kind of singing songs with everyone singing along. That’s what inspired the song “Bitter Winds,” which is a personal reflection of how fast time is going. I even have a line in there where I say, “My feet are buried in the gravel.” That’s very real stuff to me. Having the title be Songs in the Gravel, and the cover art be from there, it’s super special.

You’re putting this EP out ahead of an anticipated headlining tour, as your fanbase is expanding by the day. What do you hope the spring and summer holds for your music?
I just hope we can keep doing this. I try not to get caught up too much in something like, “Am I making music that’s gonna go viral?” How we started this thing was that I make music I really, really like, and that I really enjoy. I think that people can feel that, and in turn, they enjoy it, too. I want to keep touring, and I hope that people keep showing up and that they enjoy the shows. That’s the goal.”


What’s the backstory to “Finally Stop Dreaming”? It’s such an eerie song.
It was really written as part storytelling, part self-reflection. The point of it really is, whenever I stop dreaming, or whenever I stop chasing whatever I’m going for, I’m basically just ready to go. It’s about dreaming until the very last second. And when I’m done dreaming, I’ll go without screaming and remember all the good times. It’s a really good reflection, for me, on where I am in my life right now, and how things are moving for us. Plus, my wife is with me every step of the way, and that’s helping fuel the fire for me.

Josh Crutchmer is a journalist and author of the 2020 book Red Dirt: Roots Music Born in Oklahoma, Raised in Texas, at Home Anywhere and the 2023 book The Motel Cowboy Show: On the Trail of Mountain Music from Idaho to Texas, and the Side Roads in Between.

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