By Steve Baltin - Spinner.com
The Grammy Museum in L.A. welcomed Dave Matthews and producer Rob Cavallo on Tuesday night to talk about the making of the Dave Matthews Band's recent 'Big Whiskey' record, an album Matthews described as "Being very personal, with a lot of pain and celebration."
The revealing and entertaining hour-plus conversation with Grammy Museum executive director Robert Santelli highlighted both of those aspects, with a heavy emphasis on celebration as Matthews showed off his sense of humor mixed in with the painful talk about fallen bandmate LeRoi Moore, who died in August of 2008 after complications from an ATV accident.
Moore is celebrated on the cover of the new album, a sketch Matthews drew, it turns out at the suggestion of Cavallo. "That was Rob's fault," Matthews quipped. From the album's cover, a Mardi Gras-themed drawing, the conversation quickly turned to New Orleans, which Matthews remembered as one of Moore's favorite cities. Matthews talked about working in the city in a post-Katrina world. "It's a really frightening and generous city, so beautiful, corrupt and honest." And while talk turned to some of the city's most famous attributes, namely Bourbon Street and the wealth of colorful characters who inhabit the city's storied nightlife, Matthews said he missed most of it. "I had my whole family there a lot of the time so I saw a side of New Orleans that I'd never seen before," he said. "I saw the zoo."
Some of the most entertaining moments came when Matthews opened up about fatherhood, including how his two daughters, Stella and Grace, were both so proud to hear their names in 'Alligator Pie.' "My daughter Stella came up to me and said, 'When are you gonna put my name in a song,'" Matthews recalled. "I thought, 'That's a good lyric.'"
He also boasted of son August's musical prodigiousness and future as a ladies' man. Talking about being a parent to both genders he said, "It's my responsibility to defend both sides. I have to say to [my daughters], 'Watch out for him.' And to him I say, 'You are gonna be so happy when they bring their friend's home from college,'" to a lot of laughs. He added as a proud papa, "He is gonna be so smooth," referring to all of the musical skills August already displays.
Though Matthews wasn't scheduled to play, he busted out a guitar to do some storytelling on the making of 'Baby Blue,' 'Dive In,' and 'Seven,' where he also showed off his dance moves, or lack thereof. "I can't dance," he said. "I'm not a good dancer, but I've always liked it."
In the format and before a roomful of 200 fans who greeted him with a standing ovation, Matthews was very open. Among his other revelations, "I can't really pull off 'I'm so awesome and sexy,'" was one that emerged as he talked about the arduous task of writing, 'Shake Me Like A Monkey,' a song about lust. He also revealed, "Turning 40 was both really good and really bad for me."
He also confessed to being at times very difficult during the making of the record, even apologizing to his label and management on-hand, a trait he said he took from Moore. "I've caught myself at times being a little honest and cold-hearted, like he sometimes wished I would be when he was alive," Matthews said, adding, "He became a part of me."
In one of the most moving parts of the evening, he described their relationship. "LeRoi was one of my dearest friends and also one of the most difficult people I've ever met, which made him more profound," he said. "I'll miss his sound forever."