From the bluesy sax solo that opens the album, to the inspired songs and performances throughout, it's clear that this one's for LeRoi.
"Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King," the Dave Matthews Band's first album since 2005, is due June 2 on RCA. The album shows a number of inspirations: producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance), the band's maturation and a focus on creating a studio project on a level with the band's potency as one of the most popular live acts in rock history. But it's hard to deny the impact of the loss of founding member LeRoi Moore, who last summer died of complications from injuries suffered in an all-terrain-vehicle accident after work on the album had begun.
"Everything was really hard after Roi's death," Matthews says. "But when we were all spending time together and listened to what he had already played, we really had time to think about him and be grateful for the time we had with him."
Violinist Boyd Tinsley agrees that the sessions helped pull the band members together. "You're in the studio and you look around, and there's somebody missing," he says. "I know there were some moments for me that were really tough in the studio."
Moore's work is all over the album, culled from performances he had already put in for the project. "We created a giant ProTools file that had all of his parts, even if he was just tinkering around during a demo phase off-mic," Cavallo says. "We scoured the hard drives to find all of these moments he had."
Dave Matthews Band will begin its 2009 tour April 14 at New York's Madison Square Garden. The band plans to make new material part of the set list and, as is typical, the "Groogrux" songs will find a new life onstage. "We've played them all but we're going to have some extensive rehearsals before the tour starts - get them all oiled, lubed up and ready to go," Beauford says. "By the time we step onstage for the first show these tunes are going to be ready. By the middle of the summer, it's going to be a whole other story then, because most of the new tunes that we do always develop and grow into something fresh and new by the middle of the tour."
Check out the full Billboard interview with Dave Matthews.
Below, in this exclusive video preview of the new DMB album, Dave Matthews, Boyd Tinsley, Stefan Lessard and Carter Beauford perform and talk about recording and the death of LeRoi Moore.