Fans of the Dave Matthews Band now have a month to look forward to as they patiently wait for the band’s new studio album. In an exclusive interview with Mix 104.1’s own Cali, DMB bassist Stefan Lessard revealed that the as-yet untitled LP arrives in September.
The bulk of the conversation centered around the new album and the process surrounding its creation. Lessard remarked that the decision to begin work on the new album in January was a pleasant surprise, as Matthews suddenly came to the rest of the band with a collection of songs for an album that was essentially complete.
“We all showed up in January and Dave came to us with pretty much a body of work that just needed to be cleaned up,” he said of the new material.
Lessard noted that he has a few favorites off the new album, specifically mentioning the track “Gaucho” which the band have already released online and played live on their current tour.
Lessard went into detail about the band’s approach to creating the new LP, which involved plenty of trial and error. They worked for the first time in years with producer Steve Lillywhite, who is known for producing the band’s hugely successful first three albums.
Lillywhite took a similar approach as the first three records, gathering plenty of recordings of the same song, typically recording “six or seven times” according to Lessard. Then from there, they analyze how each song sounds and decide whether it needs extra work before making the final recordings.
Much of the new album was recorded with Lessard, drummer Carter Beauford and the rest of the rhythm section playing together, and creating certain parts by feeding off of each other, giving the album a live feel. Still, as the brain-child of Matthews himself, the songs are all grounded in very well-defined structures that adds cohesion to all the spontaneity.
“There’s a focus on this record that I feel comes from Dave that’s really cool,” Lessard said.
The new album will be the band’s first not to feature saxophonist LeRoi Moore, who passed away in 2008 after suffering complications stemming from an ATV accident.
Lessard says new saxophonist Jeff Coffin’s “awesome” new horn sections echo Moore’s style, and will make listeners feel as if Moore was never gone.
“LeRoi is so much in the soul of everything that’s happening that I think the fans will still hear him,” he said.
Lessard kicked off the interview talking about his strong social media presence, especially on Twitter. When asked about the appeal of tweeting to his 53,000+ followers, he said he likes to give fans a glimpse into a tour from the other side of the stage.
“It’s kind of cool for people to be able to see my vision of what [the] tour is like,” he said. “It’s a really fun form of expression for an artist.”
However, Lessard learned the hard way to avoid negativity anything he tweets. He does read all mentions of him and remains careful not to call out fans in a negative light like he used to.
“People take music very seriously and they take their band very seriously,” he said. “Positivity is the way to go.”
Speaking of Twitter, Lessard was also asked about his recent semi-feud with Blink 182 singer and fellow bassist Mark Hoppus, who once made a video on CollegeHumor.com saying bass players needed to be more exciting. The video makes subtle references to Lessard and DMB, who in some circles have garnered a reputation as a “mellow, easy listening band,” as Lessard described it.
After Lessard asked Hoppus about the jabs on Twitter, Hoppus said his wife’s favorite DMB album likely distorted his perception of the band.
@SLessard never been. my wife is a huge fan. crash is one of her all-time favorites.—
Mark Hoppus (@markhoppus) May 24, 2012
Still, Lessard never took the video as a direct put-down to him or the band, particularly because he realizes how energetic and lively a DMB concert, and Lessard’s own stage presence, really is.
“I just found it really funny that Mark Hoppus would use me as an example of a boring bass player, when I feel like I have to tone down my own performance on stage so I don’t look like I’m going nuts when everyone else is doing their thing,” he said.
When asked about the future of the band and where he sees them going, Lessard says the band isn’t going away any time soon. Things are going too well with the band, in terms of their success with fans and their internal chemistry, to see the end anywhere near.
“We all love making music with each other so much, we’re always going to want to do that and we’re always going to want to share that with people,” he said. “As long as we have our health…This thing will keep going for as long as we’re here to make music.”
Full interview with Stefan Lessard:
The Dave Matthews Band play the second of two straight nights at the Comcast Center in Mansfield tonight.