May 9, 2005

The morning after a blistering three-hour concert to celebrate the release of their new album, members of the Dave Matthews Band were still jazzed - about the songs no one heard.

Long before fans streamed into the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, or cameras began taping, Matthews and the band were just noodling around during sound check when they improvised what he called "two smoking tunes." "They just came out of the blue," Matthews says. "The room was empty. First came the bass or the drums, and then everyone came in. It just happened. There was nothing and then there was something." "It was too much fun," says bassist Stefan Lessard, smiling at the memory. "But we've never gone into the studio and done that. Ever." Matthews says. "We do that at sound check and all of a sudden you see the guys setting the chairs up in the auditorium and they're grooving."

To capture that special, fleeting sound, the Dave Matthews Band has reunited, hired a new producer and emerged with the summertime CD Stand Up, their first studio album since 2002's Busted Stuff. "This was like a new day dawning in a way," Matthews says before he and Lessard start a day doing radio spots to promote the CD. Matthews still smells vaguely of post-concert Jagermeister as he chugs coffee fortified with four espresso shots.

Retreating to the band's Virginia recording studio - a converted home in the woods outside Charlottesville - the band's new producer Mark Batson did something that seemed to enchant band members: He took each aside and let them jam. Just like sound check. That translated into some unusual moments as the quintet got used to Batson's laid-back style, which often consisted of patiently teasing out killer riffs from each member. "At one point, he just hit 'record' and said, 'OK, play.' I had no clue what chords to use or even what to play," says Lessard. "But, at the same time, what you catch is so awesome. It's really like the essence of the song."

Matthews had a similar experience - one you can hear on the CD's first song. "The second day I was driving home and we had the foundation for 'Dream Girl.' I had about an hour's drive and thought of the lyrics. "With this record, because a lot of it was just shooting from the hip, you can't hide it. It's like, boom! - that's what we sound like when we just sit down together and play with no obligation," Matthews says. Even the way he went about writing lyrics was different. Rather than wait until the songs were completed, Matthews scribbled away as they were being built - something the rest of the band appreciated.

"In a way, it's the same things that I'm always drawn to singing about, although there are a couple of adventures away from that," he says. "It's always the same: A little bit of death, a little bit of sex, a little bit of love." See what fans said about their
experience at the Ballroom.