MUSIC

Rock star Dave Matthews keen on return to Australia to 2020

POPULAR: Dave Matthews Band is returning to Australia in April for Byron Bay Bluesfest and will play sideshows at Sydney and Melbourne.
POPULAR: Dave Matthews Band is returning to Australia in April for Byron Bay Bluesfest and will play sideshows at Sydney and Melbourne.

His band has just been nominated for the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but Dave Matthews is more interested in talking about a turkey that allegedly climbs trees in Byron Bay.

"Yeah, I've been nominated which is very nice because there are a lot of good people on the list - Motorhead, T.Rex, Soundgarden, Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G - and I think we might be in a holding pen for a few years," he said.

"I think we might be the can to get kicked down the road.

"But listen to me. Let's talk turkey. Y'all have those funny sideways turkeys living up in the trees at Byron Bay. They're black, they look like a turkey and their tail is vertical. They can jump and flap like a chicken. I've seen these birds, I was there. What are they?"

Mention of the infamous Aussie Drop Bear goes over his head but he recalls another Australian bird that amused him on his last visit.

"It wasn't a magpie. It sounded like they were rooting for someone in a race and the person they were hoping would win, always loses. It's the only way to describe it."

Matthews makes the sound - a crescendo then a slow, depressing wail - and it doesn't ring a bell.

I am enjoying playing music with my band as much or more than I ever have.

Dave Matthews

Dave Matthews Band is returning to Australia in April for a third headline appearance at Byron Bay Bluesfest and will play sideshows at Sydney and Melbourne. Tickets are on sale now.

Formed in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1991, the Grammy-winning band's many hits include What Would You Say, Crash Into Me, Too Much, Everyday, American Baby, Funny The Way It Is, Mercy and Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin). Their most recent album release, 2018's Come Tomorrow, made them the first group in history to have seven consecutive studio albums debut at No.1 on the Billboard 200.

They are also one of the most successful touring acts of the past three decades, with career ticket sales of more than 24 million making them the biggest ticket seller worldwide during the past decade.

"I am enjoying playing music with my band as much or more than I ever have," Matthews said.

"It's very exciting. It's very honest. It's very spontaneous.

"We don't rehearse very often - sometimes we do just to refresh our memories a little bit or to just hang out. I hope that's not too obvious when we play live. I'll do something on stage I've never done before or the boys will play something they've never played before and it works and we look at each other and go 'How did we do that?'. There's joy in surprising each other with new ideas and inventive solos and new sounds."

Matthews is never serious for long, but one topic he is serious aboutis the environment. His band's Bama Works Fund, established in 1999, has raised more than $52 million for humanitarian and environmental initiatives. And, in June, Dave Matthews Band was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program in recognition of "their powerful environmental advocacy and large-scale engagement of their fan base to take action for the planet". It is the first time a band has received this recognition.

Another topic which brings out Matthews' serious side is politics. When discussing Australian audiences, he remarks that he perceives them as "confident, seemingly well educated and humble because of it". This is in stark contrast to Americans, he says, some of whom are "ignorant and delusional" because of the country's varying standards of education.

"Look at our President. He's dumb and he's arrogant and a rabble-rouser, which is a terrible combination," Matthews said.

"I feel that Australians have their fair share of people who think the world is flat. The problem in the States is that we have collected all those people in large groups and they have quite a lot of representation in the government, which is terrifying.

"I do despair," he said, "and then I giggle ... without humour."

Dave Matthews Band at Bluesfest, April 9-14, 2020; Sydney April 15; Melbourne April 17. 

This story Talking (Australian) turkey with Dave Matthews first appeared on Newcastle Herald.