BEVERLY HILLS — The Dave Matthews Band is regrouping this month to do something that, surprisingly, it has never done before — write an album in the studio.
"We always write as we go along [on tour] and then just make a record, so really it's very new," Matthews said recently. "I'm more excited about this record than anything — even though we have absolutely nothing — so that's good. And that's kind of scary."
The change in routine came about because the singer has been touring with a different set of musicians behind his recent solo album, Some Devil. (see "Dave Matthews Digs Up A Video For His First Solo Single"). But Matthews seems downright giddy at the thought of reuniting with his DMB regulars: bassist Stefan Lessard, drummer Carter Beauford, saxophonist Leroi Moore and violinist Boyd Tinsley.
"I'm trying to be cool, but I'm pretty excited to be in the studio with my partners," he said. "We don't get to see each other as much as I'd like to when we're not on the road."
Lessard's wife, Jaclyn, gave birth to a daughter, Hazel Bailey Lessard, on Saturday, and Matthews noted that the bassist will be splitting duties between his family and sessions at the band's new studio. At the moment, the group has no plans to bring in an outside producer.
"We got this cool little brick building in the middle of the woods in Virginia," Matthews said. "I think we'll basically just make it something for the five of us instead of bringing anyone with any great knowledge or great plan into the picture."
Although Matthews has finished touring in support of Some Devil, a third single, "Oh," is being released from the album.
"It's a love song about an old man singing to his dead wife," he said. "At least that's what I think, but I don't think that's what everyone else thinks. It's a pretty song. It's catchy.
"It's kind of like a 50 Cent song," he added with a grin. "It's got a little 50 Cent to it, don't you think? Maybe a little bit edgier."
Matthews is also setting aside his other solo career, on the big screen, to regroup with DMB for this album and an extensive summer tour. He recently finished shooting "Because of Winn-Dixie" (see "Catch Him On Tour, But On Film Dave Matthews Wants To Be Missed"), which is due in January.
"I'm not an actor, and I'm sure there's moments when I'm awful, [but] the experience was a lot of fun," he recalled. "And now that I have kids I feel that I can guiltlessly do family and children's movies. Maybe [my kids] will think more of me if I show up on TV, but if I'm really bad, then maybe it'd give them a reason to tease me."
The movie stars Jeff Daniels and Elle Fanning, Dakota Fanning's sister. Wayne Wang ("The Joy Luck Club," "Maid in Manhattan") directed.
"Wayne is a great director, but I could never really get a convincing 'That was great' out of him. I don't think he does those," Matthews said. "That's why I have no confidence in myself. I'd say, 'How was that?' He'd say, 'It was good.' That's not a rave review. 'Should I do another one?' 'No, we got it.' "
Not surprisingly, Matthews is ambivalent about pursuing further opportunities as an actor. "It's not something that I feel that I have to do for any deep need inside of me," he said. "I was sort of filling the time between hanging out with my wife and kids."
Matthews wrote a lullaby and some guitar "noodling" for the movie, which will also include music from Jem, a Welsh singer/songwriter he recently signed to his ATO Records.
The label co-founder has been busy signing and mentoring bands, but he shies away from the "producer" tag.
"I don't know what I would do as a producer," Matthews said. "If I just sat there and pointed, maybe I could be a producer, but if it required any technical proficiencies, I'd be an utter failure. Mastering my cell phone is my greatest technical achievement, and after that, I fall short. But maybe not — who knows? Doesn't Fred Durst produce things? How much skill can he have?" Matthews pauses, then adds: "When I say that, I mean it in a really good way."