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By Hein Kaiser

Journalist


Dave Matthews on the creation of his new album ‘Walk Around The Moon’

It's been a ride of decades of incredible music. Frontman Dave Matthews’s chats to us.


There is no other band quite like the Dave Matthews Band. For just more than 30 years, the ensemble of musicians have delivered a sound that’s addictive, trippy and moreish. 

Frontman Dave Matthews’s lyrical parodies, its emotive depths and a soupcon of humour have been bedded by musically diverse melodies since day dot. The band’s live performances, legendary. 

And Matthews is a legend himself. He is South African by birth, he’s incredibly talented and more than anything, a nice guy beyond the way that a “a cup of tea” is nice. There are no airs and graces about the man despite the fact that he is one of the most famous and respected musicians globally and keeps company with rock’s greatest heroes of all time, the Bono and Jagger set.

Interviewing Matthews is like boarding a train of thought that races through concepts at a rapid pace. He shape shifts between notions and ideas, between philosophical moments and reality. He’s the kind of guy you’d love to share a beer with, loads of salty snacks and tons of conversation. 

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Dave Matthews band coming to SA

And for the first time since 2013, he’ll be performing in South Africa this year. Although, Matthews often visits the country incognito, so often, in fact, that his kids have made lifelong friends here, too. 

The South African tour excites him and audiences can expect a helluva ride, but he said that what happens on stage tends to be a last minute decision.

“We do sort of make it up as we go along. We do go out with a list of songs that we want to do and we’ll put our best foot forward. I usually write the set about an hour, maybe two hours before we go on stage, so I don’t know what we will play, well in advance.”

Matthews said that this makes each show different. He added that the band will likely play several tracks from their new album Walk Around The Moon as well as a mixture of older tracks.

“I’m excited to be down there. I’m trying to think of things that we can play that will sort of appeal to the audience down there specifically,” he said.

The new music

Walk Around the Moon is a fantastic piece of work. It’s a musical journey that ranges from middle eastern influenced Madman’s Eyes through to the desperation of Looking for a Vein and the haunting ballad Something To Tell My Baby. Then, there’s Monsters, it’s got a driving eighties feel but laagered by the big-room atmospheric rock that’s made the Dave Matthews Band irresistible. 

When he writes music, Matthews starts with the melody, first, and then the lyrics.

“I tend to start with a musical idea. Like something catches my fancy and then I sort of take it from there. And on this new album, I started playing a lick that ended up turning into the song Walk Around the Moon. That song started it, very much like the way it starts on the album, and I thought, there’s something here. So I chased it for a little bit. And at the end of that of writing that song, we had a few other ideas, but that one sort of caught the chord.” 

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It became the foundation of the album, that was mostly written in the depths of the pandemic.

Madman’s Eyes, a standout track and, in a way, a musical outlier, has been on Matthews’ mind for years. “I still think it is one of my favourite songs. It sort of has a Turkish or a Middle Eastern kind of flavour to it. I was playing with the track for almost four years, just wishing that I had the imagination to make it into a song. And then with Walk Around The Moon, the song, completed, the song suddenly had some courage.”

When he wrote Something To Tell My Baby, he said he was trying to write an ending to a song, but it ended up as a track.

“It was just some sort of little musical ending and a conclusion. And then that song almost emerged in real time. It’s a simple song. I like the ones that come quickly because I don’t feel that I’m as much to blame for the song (he jested). Then I’m like, well, that’s pretty good, and I can’t really claim credit for it because it happened too fast.

Walking Around The Moon is an album of contrasts, musical landscapes and powerful rock and roll. 

South Africa will finally be treated to seeing this incredible band performing live on 10 December in Pretoria at SunBet Arena, Time Square and on 12 December in Cape Town at the Grand Arena, GrandWest.

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