Dave Matthews Interviewed by Billboard: Looking to Fans for Setlist Ideas
July 1st, 2007
A recent interview with Dave Matthews was published in the Washington Post. With the tour season on the horizon, the interview covered topics like, the bands chemistry, how Dave comes up with setlist for each show and the ongoing work ethic in touring every year.
Dave Matthews Band first show of the summer will be held at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IN. They will be part of the Live Earth lineup as well and they will then resume the summer tour in August.
Transcribed portion of the Billboard Article
Q: From the band's first rehearsals in the early 1990s in Charlottesville, could you sense a special chemistry?
Matthews: Very early on it had a "life of its own" sort of quality. When we first got together, it was pretty strange. I think a couple of heads turned outside of Carter's mom's basement. But pretty soon after that, certainly by our first gig, when we played even we were surprised by how people lit up.
Our first couple of gigs we only had four songs and we stretched them out, and that became part of defining what was to evolve from us. It wasn't planned, and it sort of continued that way, and at its best it still continues that way.
Q: Was extensive touring always part of the game plan?
Matthews: It was the only thing we could rely on in the beginning, and in a way it has been the only thing we have relied on since. We've had good fortune with CDs and we've had some good fortune with radio, but it never really took. It sort of always followed more than led, that side of it, the industry side of it.
There was a strange independence to the way we got here, to where we are now. I know some people would say we're pretty mainstream, but we certainly got here in a pretty unique way and have maintained it in a pretty unique way. If the record industry went belly up I certainly don't think it would kill us and, hey, it might even help us.
Q: It seems your recording career and your live career are sort of on parallel courses.
Matthews: That's very true, and the one that's sort of more faithful, the live thing, seems thus far to be the place where things are worked out in a lot of different ways, whether it's music, relationships, songs. The evolution seems to happen there. One day we'll make our best record, but it hasn't happened yet. But they are two separate things. On the one side, the touring side, we're sort of formidable, and on the side of record sales, not so much.
Q: What's the band approach to set lists?
Matthews: It's varied. Right now, I've been tending to write down an idea for a set and we pass it around the room and we change things here or there and come up with something that's comfortable and still a little adventurous.
Certain songs fall out of favor with us for whatever reason and don't appear for a while, but they come back around eventually and reappear. We look online or hear through conversations maybe what songs fans want to hear, and if they're songs that also we don't mind playing or we start getting back into, then we try to bring those in.
Q: Is performing still fun?
Matthews: Oh, yeah, it's fun, and it's pressure, it's both things. You've got to do it, you've got to get it right. You have to get it right, you can't go out halfway. Even if I feel exhausted and I haven't slept, you have to go out and give it everything because if you don't, then you're a d---.
Q: Only one band has sold more tickets than DMB in the past decade, the Rolling Stones. What do you think when you hear stats like that?
Matthews: It boggles my mind a little bit. In some ways my response is to sort of just keep my head down and not pay too much attention to that sort of stuff, because that makes it more intimidating. Just come to work as often as there's work and then go home and try to raise my kids right.