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.
By Dan Apczynski
The stage is set at the 2009 Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco’s sprawling Golden Gate Park, but the namesake and front man of Saturday night’s headliner, the Dave Matthews Band, prefers not to think about it. “I don’t dwell too much on where we are, just try to get it right,” Matthews says. “I’ll think about it afterwards—quickly if it goes well and longer if it doesn’t.” His sincerity makes it almost too easy to accept his humble position, and the win-some/lose-some perspective makes for a fair enough assessment from someone who has had a year like Matthews—his band’s new album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, was certified platinum just over 12 months after the passing of dear friend and DMB saxophonist LeRoi Moore (the intended “king” from the album’s title).
The band’s evening set is drawing a throng of devotees who have already begun reserving their spots at the main stage by early afternoon. Backstage, Matthews picks up a beautiful Taylor acoustic (with fretboard inlay of the word “Grux” and a king’s crown illustration from the album’s liner notes) and says, “It’s funny, because I always think, ‘Why does Acoustic Guitar magazine want to talk to me? That guy is a guitar player. I just hold onto it so I have something to do with my hands.’”
When I told friends and fellow editors here at GQ that I was interviewing Dave Matthews, they chortled and snorted. Two guys broke into damning imitations of Matthews’ raspy singing voice. Another pantomimed Matthews’ bizarre, spastic, onstage version of the Charleston. A friend called the music “soft prog.” One coworker just put his head down on his desk. Okay, dudes! I get it. Dave Matthews is not cool.
But you know who doesn’t care about cool? The 31 million Americans (and counting) who have bought Dave Matthews Band albums. My many friends in high school who got to first, second, and third base for the first time on the lawn of Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta while DMB ran down “Tripping Billies” onstage. And people in towns across the U.S. who got hand-me-down Allman Brothers, Genesis, and Steely Dan albums from older brothers instead of records that put you on the shortcut to cool like Fugazi, the Clash, and the Sex Pistols.
The Dave Matthews Band has been at the top of the charts with Grammy-winning hits like "So Much To Say," but the group has been press shy ... at least until our Anthony Mason talked with them about their new album, and the tragedy that inspired it:
It's a strange and improbable fusion of folk, jazz, funk & rock that has made the Dave Matthews Band one of the most popular groups of the past two decades.
"We're still pretty strange in the whole picture," Matthews said. "Not a lot of people sound like us."
But it can be good to be strange. Forty-two-year-old Dave Matthews is frontman, lead singer and songwriter of the group that bears his name, a bar band born in a college town that's become one of the icons of arena rock.
But after 30 million records sold and four number one albums, Matthews admitted to us, the band was in trouble.
by Clark Collis
The Dave Matthews Band’s new album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (out June 2) is a tribute, in large part, to saxophonist LeRoi Moore, who passed away last August at the age of 46 following injuries incurred in an ATV accident. Just a couple of years ago, however, relations between the group's members became badly strained. "As far as our friendships, we’d not been in top form," admits frontman Dave Matthews. "And in the last few years we have taken the time to rediscover each other, so to speak." After the break, Matthews talks about Big Whiskey..., how the band dragged themselves back from the brink, and his fond memories of Moore’s foul-mouthed
Entertainment Weekly: "Grux" was LeRoi’s nickname. But where does the "Big Whiskey" part of the CD's title come from?
Dave Matthews: LeRoi certainly liked “big whiskey.” But that came from a drunken harmonica player walking down the streets of New Orleans when we were recording the album who would play harmonica and then announce that he needed a “big whiskey." That was his way of courting cash. We thought Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King had a sort of a grownup fairly tale-sound to it.
by Keith Spera, Music writer, The Times-Picayune
Dave Matthews nearly became a New Orleanian this year.
The Dave Matthews Band spent February at Piety Street Recording in Bywater finishing "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King," a new album due June 2.
And on April 26, the DMB headlined the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell. It was the band's first local performance since the August death of saxophonist LeRoi Moore after an all-terrain vehicle accident. Saxophonist Jeff Coffin and trumpeter Rashawn Ross, along with electric guitarist and longtime Matthews collaborator Tim Reynolds, helped fill the void.
Matthews called from his tour bus recently to reflect on his Big Easy adventures.
How does Jazz Fest compare with other festivals you've played?
The Dave Matthews Band? They're back. In fact, they're kicking off a tour today at Madison Square Garden. And when your band is the Dave Matthews Band, the beginning of a tour means interviews. Lots of them. A press junket can take the air, not to mention the civility, out of the best of 'em, but such is not the case with Dave Matthews Band, who are friendly, witty and completely professional.
And they're open to a little touch-up before going on-camera. Stefan Lessard takes the makeup chair first and is good to go in less than sixty seconds. And Boyd Tinsley? "Just some powder, please." A Pussycat Dolls shoot this is not.
But all four of them, to a person, are in good spirits, which makes for some unexpected but welcome antics when shooting promos: View Photos from the Fuse TV Interview.
July 14th, 2008
Tim Reynolds - Ace in the Hole
By Chad Berndtson
Fall 1998 remains my all-time favorite Dave Matthews Band tour—the band at its creative zenith with, to these ears, its best studio album (Before These Crowded Streets) just out, and blowing the roof off of arenas every single night with setlists that on paper looked short only because every song was a multi-layered jamfest. There were possibilities untold and musicianship unbound, and the DMB backlash among those in and outside the jamband community were not yet palatable.
No coincidence, perhaps, that the Flecktones were the opening act and nightly collaboration foil—and that Dave's longtime guitar-slinger pal Tim Reynolds was tearing it up as a full-time touring band member. There are still great DMB shows to be seen in 2008, sure, but night after night of all those expansive '98 readings of "#41" "Jimi Thing," "Minarets," "Crush," "Lie In Our Graves"—I’m not sure the band has ever been that daring.
To see the inscrutably exciting, relentlessly inventive Reynolds on tour with Dave Matthews Band full time again this summer, 10 years later, is a little jarring—and a little nostalgic. Jarring, perhaps, because DMB at present is a touring lineup that includes Reynolds, trumpeter Rashawn Ross and Flecktones sax ace Jeff Coffin, but no Butch Taylor, and, disquietingly, no LeRoi Moore, who continues his hospitalization and recovery from a recent ATV accident. But times of internal band challenge can also yield some really unique nights on tour–and having had a listen to some recent bootlegs, here's thinking 2008 will stand as the most adventurous and remarkable DMB tour in at least five years. Certainly one of the most exciting, and just wait til Roi gets back.
Reynolds himself is having a banner year. After years of solo tours and spot projects, he's not only back in the spotlight with DMB but has revived TR3 (if not former members) in a new configuration. The new TR3 formed with bassist Mick Vaughn and drummer Dan Martier shortly after Reynolds moved to North Carolina's Outer Banks from New Mexico in 2007, and as he told us in a recent interview, there'll be plenty more from them in the near future, too.
Read The Full Interview
July 11th, 2008
By Mark Brown - Rocky Mountain News
It's an uncertain time for Dave Matthews Band fans. Longtime keyboard player Butch Taylor recently left the band. Saxophonist LeRoi Moore had an accident on his ATV in late June, breaking ribs and more, which forced a sudden, indefinite exit from the band (Jeff Coffin of Bela Fleck's band is standing in). The recording of a new album is only partially complete, with no release date in sight, three years after the release of Stand Up. Matthews continues to be grateful to the Colorado music scene that gave the band its first toehold outside the East Coast, as evidenced by the Red Rocks stands he's played and his willingness to headline the first Mile High Music Festival. The self-effacing Matthews sat for a long telephone interview with Rocky pop music writer Mark Brown about the state of the band and his life, ending with a good-natured "Thanks for putting up with me."
Read the Full Interview
October 3rd, 2007
Music producer Mark Batson has come a long way from the Brooklyn projects where he was raised. Over the past several years, he has worked both as a producer and contributing musician (he plays just about every instrument known to man) with an eclectic group of artists ranging from G-Unit to India.Arie to Beyoncé to Anthony Hamilton to Seal to The Game to Gwen Stefani to Eminem to Rachel Yamagata to Talib Kweli.
Batson gained national stature with India.Arie's 2001 release Acoustic Soul, on which Batson co-wrote and co-produced several songs. The album garnered seven Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year.
His latest project is Dave Matthews Band's Stand Up, out May 10. Tableau recently chatted with Batson about his personal and professional background and his production experience, as well as his work with DMB.
August 23, 2007
NASHVILLE - From the humble beginnings of drummer Carter Beauford's mother's basement and a crucial Tuesday night residency at Trax in Charlottesville, Va., the Dave Matthews Band has become the biggest touring success story to emerge from the 1990s.
Riding and then surpassing a wave of success from a rejuvenated post-Grateful Dead jam band scene, DMB has become, quite simply, the top-drawing American band in the world. In fact, only one act -- the Rolling Stones -- sold more tickets than DMB did in the preceding decade.
Band founder Dave Matthews was a reluctant frontman as he made the switch from Charlottesville bartender. The band has not been dependent on radio airplay (though it has enjoyed some) or platinum record sales (which it has enjoyed as well). DMB is a touring band, one of the most successful that has ever hit the highway, and its connection with its fans is via the live-performance conduit from stage to audience.
Billboard spoke with Matthews in the downtime before a May show in Dublin, as the band was about to embark on yet another massive North American tour. Matthews was relaxed, thoughtful and humble as he discussed the past, present and future of DMB, and how important it is to "get it right."
July 28th, 2007
Rolling Stone – Issue 1032 – August 9th, 2007
The DMB Leader on partying with Dabney Coleman and Jane Goodall
By Austin Scaggs
Summer means two things in America: It’s hot, and the Dave Matthews Band is on tour. After temporarily aborting work on their next album – “Let’s not try and take a shit when we haven’t got any crap inside us,” is Matthews charming explination – DMB will strike on August 1st for two full months of amphitheater gigs across the country. Meanwhile, Matthews is prepping the CD and DVD release of Live at Radio City (culled from an April 22nd date he played with guitarist Tim Reynolds) and has joined a crusade to ensure returning GIs get their due medical benefits. And on June 19th, the Matthews family welcomed a baby boy, August Oliver. “I call him Louie,” says Matthews from his home in Seattle. “We had our baby at home, which was nice, because I knew where the beer was.”