For 2005's “Stand Up,” the Dave Matthews Band found fresh inspiration in teaming up with Mark Batson, a producer known for his work with hip-hop and R&B artists such as Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
But in talking to violinist Boyd Tinsley in a recent phone interview, it's clear the group feels even more rejuvenated by the music that's been written for the new CD the band hopes to release next year.
Tinsley's enthusiasm was unmistakable as he talked about the recent songwriting/preproduction session in Seattle that has the band on track to begin recording after its tour, which stops in Charlotte on Tuesday and wraps up Sept. 7.
“The mood and the vibe of it feels like ‘Under the Table (and Dreaming)' and ‘Crash,'” Tinsley said, referring to the first two major-label albums from the Dave Matthews Band. “It feels like the beginning again, but the music is just a lot different. It's just like the whole excitement of starting something new, starting something fresh.”
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Getting to this point for Tinsley and his bandmates – singer/guitarist Dave Matthews, bassist Stefan Lessard, drummer Carter Beauford and saxophonist LeRoi Moore – has not been quick or without a few difficulties.
The group actually started working on new material in 2006 and had re-teamed with Batson to begin recording. Tinsley was a little fuzzy on exactly what transpired with that first attempt at a new album, but the band pulled the plug on the project.
“Mark Batson's a great guy. He's a great producer, a great musician,” Tinsley said. “Mark (was not) the reason why we didn't finish the album. I think one reason – there were probably many – but I think one of the reasons was just maybe the timing was not right for us. That was not the time to do the album, and this is. But it had nothing to do with Mark.
“We didn't find that sound that sparked our creativity,” Tinsley added. “And maybe we just didn't even feel like being in the studio at that time. It might have been a combination of both.”
So the group left the first batch of songs on the shelf and returned to its home base of Charlottesville, Va., to start anew.
The group decided to change producers, and hired Rob Cavallo, who's well-known for producing Green Day's “American Idiot,” among other projects.
The band also took a new approach to writing for the album, with all five members getting together to jam and build songs from the ground up. Once in Seattle, this process continued as the group wrote and refined the songs that figure to form the backbone of the new record.
“We were all together,” Tinsley said. “It's really been a pretty amazing experience doing it.”
Tinsley said the group might even be ready to debut a few of the songs slated for the new CD during the current tour, although fans are likely to hear some nuggets from its back catalog.
“Every year, we sort of try to bring back some songs that we haven't done in a few years, and revisit them and put them back into the repertoire of what we do that summer,” Tinsley said. “Even as the summer progresses, we'll start going back and adding new songs into the set.”