Con-Fusion Interview with Dave
By Elena Pizzetti
February 22nd, 2010. It's been eight months since the release of Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King and seven since the epic concert in Lucca, immortalized in the Europe 2009 boxset. The Dave Matthews Band is back to Italy, ready to pour its kaleidoscopic river of sounds on the stages of Milano, Roma and Padova. I meet Dave Matthews before the show at the PalaSharp in Milano to talk about the latest record, the death of sax player LeRoi Moore, the renewed sinergy of the band and his variegated interests. His well-known “antistar” attitude is immediately proved: he welcomes me in his dressing room like a neighbour would and he repeats my name three times until he proudly pronounces it with the accent on the right “e”. I give him a copy of February's Buscadero and he points at the cover photo laughing: “I had terrible hair that day!”. I ask him if he's happy to be in Italy again and he answers with an enthusiastic “Yeah!”: with no doubt it’s true. His table is covered with papers filled with song lists, sketches and drawings. His pen will trace countless scribbles throughout the interview. He adds a couple of titles to the setlist, then we start. His answers alternate overflowing streams of consciousness to long, thoughtful breaks in which he stares at the ceiling searching for the words. As background music, the sax of Jeff Coffin, who’s rehearsing in the next room.
Compared to Everyday and Stand Up, Big Whiskey has a sound and groove which recall your first three records. You worked on it in a very tough moment, but you managed to find a fantastic sinergy. Do you think it was a kind of rebirth of the band?
Von Sascha Knapek
Musicheadquarter had the chance to conduct an interview with Dave Matthews. Prior to the show in Frankfurt Matthews sat down with our editor Sascha Knapek to talk about DMB’s current endeavors in Europe, urban legends and how a Matthews-led supergroup would look like. All photographs by Julian Thesen.
Dave, your current European tour is nearing its end. Tonight is the eleventh show out of 18 and your last one in Germany. Are you satisfied with the audience turnout and how the tour is going so far?
Dave Matthews: Well, it is always nice to play for audiences that are new to us. I feel that in the last few years we have started to make a slow headway in Germany and different parts of Europe, moreso than we have in the past. And I think it’s just timing, it’s sort of the way our career went in the US as well. It’s been a great tour, the biggest crowds we played for here in Europe, that are our own. I am very satisfied, but sorry that this is our last show in Germany. But we played more shows in Germany than we ever have, so that’s a good thing and it’s gone very well. It’s moving into a direction that we wanted to go in Europe and we hope we are giving the audiences a reason to come back when we return.
I can vividly remember that you guys schedueled a tour throughout Germany in 2001, but cancelled because of 9/11. What were the reasons why it took you guys nearly nine years to make another try?
Dave Matthews: Our career grew in the states in a way that was sort of "mouth-to-mouth". Everything was by word of mouth. And though we have now gained a radio career and, to a degree, a television career, it were those things that followed. It was the touring, playing for audiences and introducing ourselves that way, that opened up people to the variety of the music that we play and whatever style it is we play.
We never put that time in here and that’s what we needed to do to be succesful in Europe. And to come back to 2001, it was a hopeful time in a way, but it also was a difficult time in our career, a difficult time for the band. It has taken too long for us to return, but I do feel as if this time the band is in a really strong position. We’re returning to the heart of why we play music, so there is a real desire for us to come and play for audiences that don’t know us. It’s not obligatory like you do well in the states and then you try to expand. For us it’s different, we now all want to go and take the same approach to introduce ourselves to audiences in different parts of the world. I think we’re open to it and I hope the audiences are open to what we’re doing.