April 7th, 2006
Daily Record UK - By John Dingwall
With sales of more than 30 million in the US, Dave Matthews is the kind of superstar who can walk the street in the UK without being recognised.
The underrated South African songsmith recently played a London gig where tickets were changing hands for more than £200 a pop on eBay yet he remains somewhat anonymous as far as British tastes are concerned.
But with the release this week of his latest single, American Baby from the Dave Matthews Band's sixth solo album Stand Up, he is hoping for recognition for his folk rock sound on a scale recently enjoyed by Jack Johnson.
He said: "There is no comparison between our status in the US compared to the UK Over there we exploited the American market on our terms.
"People see us as a really mainstream band in America. But we have never been much loved by radio or MTV."
Catch Dave live in an acoustic setting as I did in London recently, and you can't help but warm to his blend of satirical songs and hilarious anecdotes.
But rather than being a chance to branch off into a parallel solo career of storytelling and song enjoyed by the likes of Kinks legend Ray Davies, Dave says any attempts at humour are merely the result of nerves.
"I don't talk quite as much when I am touring with the band," he explained afterwards. "I might tell a story on a rare occasion, but it's a nice thing to be able to talk without wasting anyone's time or making anyone in the band feel awkward.
"I do like talking and it's not rehearsed. I am so nervous I just start going and that created a uniqueness I enjoy.
"I'm always nervous before I go on stage. It's a nervous energy rather than a fear which makes me want to get offstage.
"I don't hate it, but I tend to be semi-embarrassed and awkward.
"I haven't considered stand-up because I don't think I could do it day after day, but occasionally I have to talk to the executive at a giant retail conference and I go into a room for 10 minutes and tease them by stating the obvious."
Dave is still embarrassed over a marketing idea dreamed up by his record company in an attempt to introduce him to the British public back in the Nineties.
If black comedy were his forte then an incident involving a tour bus toilet would definitely be in his act.
There was a certain irony to the fact that the band, who pride themselves on being eco-friendly, found themselves J being sued by a woman who was drenched in human excrement after the lavatory on the band's tour bus was emptied over a bridge.
"We held an investigation into the incident because we have always been outspoken about that sort of thing," admits Dave.
"But we discovered that we were at fault and held our hands up.
"Typically, one right wing country singer I know told me that he couldn't help but have a little laugh about the fact that the incident had happened to us because we were the last band it should have happened to.
"He said: 'Dave, we all do it'. It taught us a very valuable lesson and the drivers now know that sort of thing is just not on."
'We are seen as a mainstream band in the US, but we've never been much loved by MTV'