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Dave Matthews headlining to a festival near you

by Ryan Snyder

 

Dave Matthews hits the summer festival circuit before taking off all of 2011. (courtesy photo)

Maybe you love Dave Matthews for his performing verve, tireless touring and masterful cast of funky backing musicians and because he’s “just, like, so chill.” Maybe you hate him for his increasingly cloying brand of Natty Lightsoaked, fratty yacht rock and his cancerous fan base, or even used to love him because of his practically homegrown origins and now hate him for an amalgam of those reasons. Either way, it’s unlikely that the news that Dave Matthews Band will be taking off the entirety of 2011 will be met with indifference. When the highest-grossing touring act of the last decade tops the bill at the biggest music festival in the Southeastern, possibly Eastern United States, it can’t help but draw down the gigantesque nature of DMB and its closing set at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, happening this weekend.

Matthews doesn’t offer many interviews anymore and once you hear him speak at length its easy to understand why. He is a very friendly, funny and personable guy however — and a heck of a sport to take part despite battling an evident case of the flu — and one of those rare interviews came during a recent conference call to promote the festival. While brevity and coherency are integral characteristics of a solid interviewee, neither is familiar to Matthews and the following is edited to compensate for such while maintaining the spirit of his intentions.

DAVE MATTHEWS ON LIFE BEFORE FESTIVALS:

“Probably 15 years ago when we first toured over in Europe playing all the festivals, they hadn’t really caught on in the States, you know. Aside from Woodstock or whatever, they hadn’t really taken off like they have in the last few years and I just like the idea of people going somewhere to a destination and hanging out and just having a party. Sort of like going camping, but listening to really loud music rather than watching birds. Although, I personally would rather watch birds if given the choice.”

GETTING HIGH OFF PROPS FROM BOB:

“I remember when we played right after Dylan [at the 2004 installment]. I can’t remember. Maybe I think it was Dave and Friends but we played right after Dylan played and he said, ‘I didn’t play Watchtower because I thought you could play it.’ And so that’s pretty high — that was a high point for me. I suppose everybody is a crazy fan for Dylan, so to have him acknowledge my existence in any way was kind of sweet, but then just to be that specific was kind of a high point. That’s probably the [memory] that sticks in my mind the most — the one that I tell. I tell that story unprompted.”

ON BLENDING INTO THE FESTIVAL MASSES:

“I think that in the past I’ve wandered around in a hat and sunglasses, which is all the disguise I need but this time I won’t be. I’m coming in that day on Sunday because we’re on tour — so I’m going to sort of zip in and zip out this time and not really get to see any music. And it looks like a pretty cool lineup for the weekend, but I’m not going to see any of it.”

AS COMEDIAN JEFFREY ROSS ON WHY HE DOESN’T LIKE DAVE MATTHEWS:

“You know, he smiles too much. He’s always so f–king nice.

What’s he got to be happy about? That prick! No, I just don’t like him. I don’t even know why I don’t like him. He’s like, you know, and then — I don’t like him because I don’t like his face. Pig’s face.”

JEFF COFFIN AND EXTRACURRICULARS AT BONNAROO:

“I’m willing to guarantee that Jeff Coffin with every minute available will be playing an instrument either on stage or not. That’s one of the things I like most about him is that he’s insanely devoted to playing music but, you know, who knows? I don’t have any plans. I’m much better at not having any plans. That’s been my — that’s the success of my career, and its crescendo at this year’s Bonnaroo has depended heavily upon me having no control over it.”

THE BIG BLOW-UP AND THE NEAR END:

“The small things started to drive us crazy about each other and we stopped talking, which is always a great solution. And then a year or so before we started Big Whiskey, Carter and LeRoi and I sort of had this kind of, I guess, confrontation kind of explosion. But the result was that we wanted to stay together and that we love each other and that we can acknowledge that we’re not exactly the same; that we’re part of a puzzle and not the same piece of it. And so I think we’ve been together so long and we did have some enduring respect for each other and admiration for each other that when we finally sort of let go of our [obstinence] and our frustration, it kind of gave. It was a great relief. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, LeRoi had his accident and died from the complications, but in a strange way, his death brought us even closer together or at least inspired us to move forward honoring him as a unit rather than running away from his death and from each other.”

TO REPLACE OR NOT TO REPLACE:

I think if Roi had passed away right away from the injuries of his accident, I doubt that we would have gotten another sax player. But really it was like well, we’ve got to carry on with the tour and we’ve got some horn lines so let’s see if anyone’s available and Jeff was available and I think the way it unfolded dictated how we would move forward. I don’t know what else Jeff is going to do but I will take him while he’ll have me. That sounded like a homoerotic reference. Take it as you will.”

IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT DAVE MATTHEWS BAND (for a year):

“On and off for the last 20 years I have thought about taking some time off and it never seemed like the right time. But right now, I think the band is in our relationships with each other and with the music, we’re in the best place I can remember us being. I’m always an amateur and I’m always a professional to a degree, but I’d like to do it for a year where I’m just an amateur, where the only reason I’m doing it is out of love and so that I can come back with this group of people that I’ve played with for 20 years and have something more.

“I think a lot of bands certainly just take a year off and not even mention it. It’s just for us it’s a big deal because sort of one of the things if nothing else, the only thing that’s been consistent is that we’ve been playing. Good or bad, we’re coming to a town near you.”

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