June 6th, 2008
By BRIAN McCOLLUM
The 15-year mark is a crucial point in the life of a rock act.
It's the stage when a veteran band can slip into contentedly running through the motions, or decide it's going to stay on its toes and keep challenging itself.
For the Dave Matthews Band, says bassist Stefan Lessard, opting for the latter is a no-brainer.
It was spring 1993 when the Southern college band settled into its permanent lineup, preparing to issue its first record as it began the wild journey into national fame and eventual status as one of the world's top touring draws. Fifteen years later, it's all still electric for Lessard, drummer Carter Beauford, violinist Boyd Tinsley, sax man LeRoi Moore and the band's singer-songwriter namesake.
"This band is kind of a living, breathing organism," says Lessard in advance of the band's Monday show at DTE Energy Music Theatre. "We're constantly morphing into different shapes and sounds. We don't really aim to sound one particular way or have one particular type of show. We just let it happen as it happens. It's very much in the moment."
The ever-evolving DMB story has entered a new chapter: Back on the road with the band is guest guitarist Tim Reynolds, a close confederate of Matthews who played with the band during the late '90s. Most notably, the group inaugurated a recording partnership last year with producer Rob Cavallo, best known for his work with Green Day and My Chemical Romance. Sessions have begun for the follow-up to 2005's "Stand Up," the band's latest chart-topping, pop-savvy fusion of rock, funk, jazz and world music.
As other '90s bands have fluttered off to the fringes -- back to playing small venues or linking up for retro package tours -- DMB remains vital and relevant. The group sold more than 831,000 tickets in the United States last year, according to Pollstar magazine, placing it behind only the Police, Kenny Chesney and Justin Timberlake. That's a standard sort of feat for the group: Dave Matthews Band is widely regarded in the concert industry as the contemporary act with the most dependable box-office draw.