July 1st, 2006
A portion of a bigger article in the July 2006
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND
How does the jam master do it? spiked coffee and teleprompters!
We may want to pack up our VW minibus and our dog Jerry and follow dave around on tour this summer. Would that be, like, a righteous idea? Dude, totally! “We change what we play every night,” says Dave Matthews, now in his fifteenth year as king of the jam-band nation. “I would lose my tiny little mind and become a farmer if the only option of playing music live was to play the same set over and over.”
Does Dave owe his longevity to this kind of creative restlessness?
That, and his workout regimen: Matthews always brings a trainer on the road, and usually takes his first cup of coffee with a shot. “Whiskey in coffee is good. If you just have one to start your day, it takes away the cobwebs.”
How involved was Dave in setting up his 52-date, 39-city tour?
Not very. “They just pop me on a bus and say, ‘Perform, seal. Perform!’”
With eight studio albums and an affinity for whiskey in the A.M., how does Dave remember all the words to his songs?
He doesn’t. “I have an electronic cheat sheet,” he says, referring to his onstage teleprompter. “But I rarely look at it. The other thing I do is make up words. Or mumble.”
Dave gets pretty into performing onstage — what’s with the faces he makes?
Notorious for his onstage facial expressions that land somewhere between euphoria and passing a kidney stone, Matthews admits he looks ridiculous. “Every time I see the expression on my face in a photograph I think, ‘Well, nothing could help that. No outfit could have distracted from that expression.’”
Dave’s toured the world. In his field research, which city has the best drugs?
Though he’s fairly tight-lipped about that, apparently his homeland of South Africa has the best pharmaceutical sleeping aids. “I don’t remember what it was, but it was magical. Slept like a baby for nine hours. I was excited about the day that would follow, and still had six hours left on my flight.”