Interview: Boyd Tinsley
In New York, the day after covering the May 10 release party for Stand Up, the sixth studio album by the Dave Matthews Band, reporter Vijith Assar caught up with violinist Boyd Tinsley. In a wide-ranging interview, the two talked about the new album, where to play in Charlottesville, and bringing DMB to African-American audiences.
Do you ever think about moving out of town and doing the L.A. rock star thing?
Well, I'm not really a rock star. I don't have a reason to leave. I have family, a couple of kids. Charlottesville's a great place to bring them up.
When people recognize you in public, what does it take for admiration to get aggravating?
The great thing about our fans is that they are very cool and very respectful. People come up, and they're excited to meet you, but they don't really start grabbing and tugging.
When you're in Charlottesville, are you able to reconnect with the music scene?
When I'm in town, it usually means I'm coming in from work. I spend a lot of time with my wife and my kids. I still know a lot of the older musicians. Anybody who's over 35 and plays music in Charlottesville, I probably know them or have played with them.
If you were to retire, where in Charlottesville would you want to waste away your fortune, and when the money ran out, where would you work?
Where would I want to work?! [registering surprise] I'd like to just hang out at my house out in the country. [laughs] Outside at the Mudhouse on the Mall is a nice place to start. Just hanging out on the Mall, man. It's a very cool place to kick it and to just sort of chill. And where would I work? Oh, boy. Hopefully as long as I play music, I don't have to work again. [laughs] I could just play.
The 2001 show at Scott Stadium– what's it like having something like that in your home town?
I was proud of the town for being willing to put that show on. I was also just very proud of the way everybody in Charlottesville dealt with all these hordes of people. Someone said that as far as rowdiness, it was less than a typical football game. I hear that the Stones are coming to Charlottesville pretty soon, you know, so it looks like we're gonna keep on with some of those big shows at Scott Stadium.
Any chance you guys might do another show there?
Definitely. If not there, perhaps at the new basketball arena. It's been a while since that Scott Stadium show, and the last time before that was... 1993 or 1994 or something like that... [It was September 1994–ed.]
Why did you guys decide to create a studio in Charlottesville?
It's just nice to have a studio space that's available at any time, not only for recording a studio album, but also for rehearsing, for getting together to just maybe write tunes, and it's also in a beautiful place, way remote in the country outside Charlottesville. It's our own space, a space everybody feels comfortable in, a space we designed specifically for ourselves.
Let's talk about the new album. There's a lot of talk about a hip-hop or R&B influence because of the producer– do you agree?
It has some heavy grooves in it, which I think is a great thing, especially coming from Carter Beauford and Stefan Lessard. The producer, Mark Batson, has worked with a lot of hip-hop cats– and a lot of jazz cats, too– Sting, and some other folks. He's a great musician who understood this band really well, and I think he really brought out all the best elements of each of the musicians.
Do you feel like the groove sound might help you target more black audiences? The stereotype right now is the white college student...
To be honest with you, I run into people of all stripes– black folks, white folks, young folks, old folks– I have yet to find a demographic in America that hasn't dug the Dave Matthews Band. There might not be a lot of representation at our shows, but I think that there's definitely an audience out there, a whole cross-section of this country.
What's happening right now regarding overseas promotion? I know you guys just went to Australia. Was that a success?
We've been trying to get to Australia for several years now, you know, and something or another has come up, and we haven't been able to make that trip. But yeah, we have some great fans over there, and we played a bunch of really beautiful theaters in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, and a great festival in this place Byron Bay, and we definitely plan to go back.
Are you sick of reporters asking you about the Chicago incident?
I haven't been asked about it that much. I'm just glad we're finally getting that resolved. Chicago's a great place, a place that we all love and respect a lot. It's just a very unfortunate incident, and hopefully we can get over it with restitution to the river cleanup and by continuing to pour out some love to Chicago in our music.
Why did you guys choose to bring back the old "Fire Dancer" image for the cover of the new CD?
It looks new on the album. The fire dancer is definitely an internationally known symbol of the Dave Matthews Band, so we wanted to make the cover a little more simple, and really just let the music be the thing that really speaks for the album.
A recent article in Rolling Stone suggests that there was drug use during the making of this album. Are you guys into using drugs for creative purposes?
No, man, we aren't into using drugs creatively. First of all, I would say don't believe everything you read in the paper.
Are you planning another solo album?
I'm not planning one, but I definitely am not opposed to doing one.
You guys were involved in the "Vote For Change" tour last year, and we all know how that ended. So what do you do with that enthusiasm?
You put it into the music. We might have desired a different outcome, but we went into the studio basically the day after the election. Our fans are Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal. One thing we need to recognize and not forget is that together, as Americans, we're a lot stronger– our diversity is our strength.
FILE PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO