Dave Matthews on Summer Tour: ‘We’re Trying Not to Suck’
I definitely want people to walk away feeling like, “That was almost cool.” I don’t care if it is a really good-looking group of young people in the row in front of you that makes the show worthwhile, or if it is laughing at a bad dancer or if it is the show itself – as long as people leave feeling like they got more than they bargained for, I feel like I am off the hook. So my hope is there is something about the environment that surpasses people’s expectations and encourages them to return if they were given the opportunity.
You guys put out your first record more than 20 years ago, and you still have some of the most dedicated fans around. Do you ever try to make sense of why that is?
I see a lot of faces that I have seen for a while and I see new faces, which is nice. In the States, we’re like cockroaches, we’re so common. But I think we are unique and a pretty badass band – maybe a little creakier than we once were.
I was at the grocery store the other day and I met this young guy. He looked a little like a hipster with his piercings and his facial hair. I expected him to say something kind of nice but at the same time dismissive: “I’m your neighbor, you seem like a nice guy, even though your music blows.” And it was a little dismissive. He said, “I’ve never bought a record of yours but last summer my friend convinced me to go and you guys were unbelievable. I never would have believed it.” And I thought, “Yeah. We are pretty fucking badass.”
There are people who say, “That is a pretty nasty band.” And there are still people who would say, “Make it stop!” but there are enough people who I think will be surprised. Radio just gives a pretty one-sided view. We are cursed and blessed with the fact that if you want to see what the band is like and get to know us, then you have to see us live or at least listen. But having said that, who gives a shit?
The Atlantic recently published an essay defending DMB, saying that you get a bad rap and are one of the great American bands.
Occasionally I will be like, “My band is pretty badass” and then other times I will think, “Oh God, my band is not badass at all, I am terrified. What am I doing up here?” I know that we have never been stricken with the label of hip, but I do sometimes wonder if we just keep going, at some point we will fall into the category of “Well they are still here, so they can’t be that awful.” Maybe like us and R.E.O Speedwagon. [Laughs].
You’ve promised to bring out guests on your tour this summer. Who are you thinking?
I’m trying to convince Gregg Allman, and our backup singers called the Lovely Ladies [who joined the band last summer for the first time in a decade]. Maybe we should try to get someone hip we can play with and give me some advice.
How is the band sounding right now to you? What can you guys do now that maybe you could not do before?
I am trying to be a better singer. Stefan [Lessard] is playing beautifully and we’re just practicing all the time. I think the band is sounding, for whatever reason – it could just be my imagination – pretty funky. [We’re] somewhere in between trying not to suck and not sucking.
I don’t think you give yourself enough credit.
It’s so hard to judge yourself. It is so much easier to be ruthless towards myself than it is to be ruthless towards other people. Inwardly, I am very very, very critical of everyone else. Outwardly, I am enormously critical of myself and in awe of all other efforts. Quite the contrary on the inside. On the inside, I am kind of a dick.
Kanye West Says Jonah Hill in '21 Jump Street' 'Made Me Like Jewish People Again'
- 'Thank You Jonah Hill'