Gavin DeGraw: 'DWTS' Partner Is 'Kicking My Ass'

Gavin DeGraw Booted From 'Dancing With The Stars'

Says It Was Karina Smirnoff Who Asked Him to Join Cast of Season 14

The 14th season of "Dancing With the Stars" hasn't even started yet, and Gavin DeGraw is already getting his butt kicked.

The singer has been joined on the road by his professional partner, 13th season co-champion Karina Smirnoff, working out during the days to get ready for the March 19 "Dancing..." premiere and performing his shows at night. And, of course, getting catcalls of "Hey, what's up twinkletoes?!" from his band members and crew.

"She's kicking my ass," DeGraw tells "We started a little over a week ago rehearsing. The schedule's been pretty rough only because I'm doing a tour also. So she hopped on a plane with her (TV) crew and has been following our tour and coming out on the road, and we're doing rehearsals during the day time and then I'm doing my shows at night."

DeGraw contends that he's hardly worse for the wear, however. "It does sort of open your mind in a different way about how you're moving on stage," he explains. "It makes you conscious of how you're standing and how to move or how much of your body to move at one time. I see it changing the way I'm thinking on stage a little bit, and that's kind of cool. I think it's going to add another dimension to what I do in my own career on stage, playing music.

"The funny thing is each person on this show has to remind themselves that they're learning something that is completely out of their element, and it really is just about having a good time and keeping in mind that there's things you're not going to be able to do that you wish you could, but it's gonna take a lot of practice."

DeGraw says that being paired with the reigning champ "puts a little extra pressure on me that I was not looking forward to. It's all gonna be on me if she doesn't get to put another trophy up over her mantle." But he and Smirnoff have known each other for awhile, and DeGraw says it was the dancer who sent him the initial invitation to be part of the show.

"She sent me a text that was like, 'Hey, think you'd be interested in doing 'Dancing With the Stars?' " he recalls. At the time I was hanging with a race car buddy of mine named Brian Vickers, and I read (the message) out loud while he was with me and said, 'Hey man, what do you think of this?' And he said, "Oh, man, you gotta do it!' So I felt like I had the vote from the guy community right away.

"The show, it has such a wide reach. It's just way more massive than I was even capable of comprehending. When people said 15 to 20 million (viewers) I thought, 'OK, that's nice,' and then we started up and I started to see people reaching out on my Twitter account or reaching out to other people on the show...and you really start experiencing how big the show is."

DeGraw still hopes to maintain his music career throughout the "Dancing..." run, however. Though the latest leg of touring wraps up March 20, he's preparing to release the title track of his latest album, "Sweeter," as the set's second single, along with a video that features Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Genevieve Morton. "We made a pretty steamy video and, yeah, it looks really great," DeGraw says. "It was rock 'n' roll." He's also hoping for a third single from "Sweeter," with the track "Soldier" -- which he calls "the atom bomb of all songs on the record" -- as his personal choice.

He's "definitely" thinking about his next album, too, but DeGraw says "it's too soon" to get too deep into it.

"I've got a bunch of stuff written that I think could end up on that record and a bunch of stuff that's already taking shape that could end up on that record," he says. "It's hard to say because I'm really so deep into ('Sweeter') still. So I think I probably won't end up in the studio again for a good year, and we'll see what happens after that."