The prospect of a year off touring in 2011 has Dave Matthews hatching a few ideas -- although he notes that "I'm much better at not having any plans. The success of my career...has depended heavily on me having no control over it."
"I want to look at music not as a professional," Matthews told Billboard.com during a conference call with reporters to promote this year's Bonnaroo Music Festival, which the Dave Matthews Band will close on June 13. "I'm always...a professional to a degree, but I'd like to do it for a year where I'm just an amateur, where the only reason I'm doing it is out of love so I can come back with this group of people that I've played with for 20 years and have something more. I'm really excited about playing this year and not having a real plan other than trying to make the most of it and...then next year hide behind a tree. And I hope that anyone that's hunting me doesn't find me."
Matthews said that he does have a few new songs "that I'm messing around with," but is not sure if any of them will be ready to play live during the nearly 16-week tour, which starts Friday [may 28] in Hartford, Conn. "My problem is I'm good at starting songs," he explained, "then I have to work, and to end it is always hard. I'm always sort of hoping I'll find something new, desperately hoping that something will come into my mind that will sound like anything interesting. But I have a few things that are in their beginnings."
As for the decision to take 2011 off the road, Matthews said that it's something he's contemplated throughout the past 20 years, but it never seemed like the right time. "Right now," he said, "I think the band, in our relationships with each other and with the music, we're in the best place I can remember us being. For that reason I thought that taking a year to sort of recharge my creative juices and sort of not have the safety net of touring with the band for a year and just see what my head comes up with was sort of my idea. I thought there's no time like now."
Matthews also felt that, given the devotion of a fan base who treat DMB tours as an annual rite, it was important to announce the break rather than simply taking it.
"For us it's a big deal," he said. "I certainly feel an obligation to the people that support the uniqueness of the band's career and have made it...sort of habitual or a moment of quite a few people's summers, it would be, I guess, ungrateful to not say everything. I felt that about everyone me as well, the crew and the band and the people that work with us. I wanted to give everyone a long heads-up." And, Matthews promised, he has "every intention of going back to these same people," meaning the band. "That's my plan, to come back to these same people and reconvene, just having taken a little time to star at the stars and stare at our kids."
Besides Bonnaroo, the DMB will also play the Hullabal.OU Music Festival on July 25 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and the Mile High Music Festival on Aug. 15 in Commerce City, Colo. The group is currently scheduled to wrap the tour on Sept. 15 in St. Paul, Minn.