Deconstructing Dave Matthews’ Rolling Stone interview
This week’s Dave Matthews Rolling Stone interview has some fans in a panic about Dave Matthews Band’s future. Are those reactions warranted? Maybe — or maybe not.
In the interview, Dave said he doesn’t know where DMB will go from here, and he discussed how hard it is to come up with new material. His comment that “I’m not sure Boyd [Tinsley] and I live on the same planet” has also led to speculation about the band’s personal relationships.
Assuming everything in the Rolling Stone article is accurate and not taken too far out of context, let’s take a look at what Dave’s comments could possibly mean:
Nothing: Sometimes things get lost in the translation from spoken to written word — especially in the case of Dave, who tends to ramble and go off on tangents, not to mention his zany voices and accents. What if he said “I’m not sure Boyd and I live on the same planet” in that effeminate voice he sometimes uses? Would you still think there are problems between them? Or would you laugh?
The same goes for Dave’s comment that DMB’s hardcore fans are so obsessed that they make it harder to attract newer fans. It’s not too hard to picture Dave saying, “People are like, ‘I don’t want to be part of that!’” in some crazy accent with a wide-eyed smile on his face.
Dave just had a bad day: DMB’s been off the road for a few weeks now. This Rolling Stone interview is apparently the start of the promotional period before Away From the World comes out. In essence, it was Dave’s first day back on the job after a vacation. It’s not unusual to be a little bit grumpy and unenthusiastic when you return to the office, and that could’ve lead Dave to say things he didn’t really mean or to overemphasize the negative.
Dave was just being realistic: Face it, some DMB fans are obsessed to almost unbelievable degrees. As the object of that obsession, Dave could very well feel overwhelmed at times.
And as any longtime musician will tell you, it does get harder to keep creating new, different music. Some fans have criticized the Away From the World songs “Mercy” and “Gaucho” for echoing themes in DMB’s earlier work. Lyrically, “Funny the Way It Is” is just another go-round at “Mother Father,” and musically, “Baby Blue” is nearly identical to “Sister.” Other examples abound, like Dave’s fascination with monkeys.
If Dave doesn’t notice these similarities while he’s writing, he likely does upon later reflection, and he’s probably a harsher critic of his work than most fans are. His comments don’t necessarily mean he’s going to give up or become disenfranchised; it might just be his way of recognizing the truth.
The band actually is in trouble: Despite all the explanations we just went through, it’s possible that concerned DMB fans are interpreting Dave’s sentiments correctly. If that’s true, it wouldn’t be the first time there’s been trouble in DMB paradise. The band came back from the brink once before, but fans didn’t know about it until years later. Who’s to say that — despite it being more public this time — the band couldn’t do it again?
Photo by Jon Wilkins.