Dave Matthews Band puts a renewed emphasis on rhythm and groove on its new album, "Stand Up," due May 10 via RCA. Producer Mark Batson worked with members individually to build tracks from even the mo

Dave Matthews Band puts a renewed emphasis on rhythm and groove on its new album, "Stand Up," due May 10 via RCA. Producer Mark Batson worked with members individually to build tracks from even the most basic of ideas. "In a way, it got each of our voices out more clearly than in the past," Matthews tells Billboard.com. "I think we've had tightness on record before and the band has sounded 'big' before, but it never had this sort of natural quality."

First single "American Baby" is No. 14 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart this week. Other highlights include the funky "Everybody Wake Up (Our Finest Hour Arrives)" and "Louisiana Bayou" and the multi-faceted closer "Hunger for the Great Light."

Matthews says the band's creative juices flourished under Batson's guidance. "When he first met us, he said, 'You guys have been playing so long together you get into a habit of reacting to each other in one way,'" he offers. "He would grab [violinist Boyd Tinsley] and say, 'Play something, get a vibe going,' then call me in and say, 'Play something with that.' It opened our eyes to each other in a really cool way."

This led to an overarching spontaneous vibe in the studio, according to Matthews. "[Batson] had this ability to capture us so instantly that it had an element of effortlessness," he says on the line from final rehearsals before heading to a weekend gig at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. "Now sitting around playing these tunes, they've got a giant pocket and are so much fun to play, it's sort of second nature."

Matthews is enthused about showcasing the new tunes, only a handful of which have yet been played live, on the band's annual summer tour. The trek begins June 1 in Maryland Heights, Mo.

"I'm so looking forward to it. Right now we're sitting around playing and it's sounds cool as hell, and I can only imagine it growing," Matthews says. "I think it's going to be magic, a new phase for us, because the groove is so much. We've got an obsession with groove, but the groove is so strong here [that] the room for improvisation is pretty vast inside these tunes, rhythmically and melodically."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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