Posted: Thursday July 21, 2005 1:00PM; Updated: Thursday July 21, 2005 1:45PM
SI: Your songs have been used during coverage of some big sporting events, including the NBA Finals and Major League Baseball games. Next month, the band will be featured in a CBS Sports ad campaign for its NFL coverage. Do you ever tune into the events just to hear your songs? Beauford: I've done that a bunch of times. Earlier in the Dave Matthews Band history, for example, I was watching a hockey game with the Rangers and they played Ants Marching in the arena and it completely took me by surprise. It was the coolest thing to hear your music being played in front of all these people, to hear people give a nice roar as a response to what they were listening to.
SI: Several athletes, including Tony Hawk, Andy Roddick and Barry Zito, are huge fans of your band. What's your favorite story involving an athlete who's a fan? Matthews: We were playing Live 8 in Philadelphia and a bunch of the Eagles were there. I was like, "Who are these big dudes?" It was Donovan McNabb and a couple other cats. Beauford: Last year, Rick Fox came to one of our shows. I'm a Lakers fan, so I was blown away. He was the coolest cat to hang with. Before he got backstage, he was jumping up and down in the crowd. He was so thrilled to be near us. It was the weirdest thing. I was like, "Dude, I'm supposed to be like that."
SI: Fox is a North Carolina guy and you're both Charlottesville dudes. Isn't he supposed to be the enemy? Matthews: We've gotten past the period in our lives when we held on too tight to that stuff (laughs).
SI: What role has sports played in your life? Beauford: For me, just staying healthy. I've been in sports all my life since I was five years old. It's always been a part of my life and a part of my family's life. It's always been around. It's like eating food. If I don't have it, something's wrong. It's a big part of my life. Matthews: I've gone through phases with sports. As a source of entertainment, I think sports is fun. It's fun to see people that are at the very best at anything competing. As far as my life, I'm a pretty active person at the moment, and as a kid I enjoyed competing on a friendly level, even if it's occasionally a rivalry. I think it's really important to be physical. I think it's very important for your mind. It's sort of like the difference between a river and swamp. If you are immobile all the time, I can't believe your mind can be at its best. I think the times in my life when I've been happiest and most creative have been the times I've been most active.
SI: South Africa is hosting the World Cup in 2010. Dave, you were born in Johannesburg and lived there as a teenager. What will this mean for your native country? Matthews: We've traveled around the world and when you see soccer fans, they're amazing to watch. When we were in Brazil, it wasn't just "this is the team I like." It was "I'll die for that team." There's a passion and pride and a nationalism. I'm glad the World Cup finals are being held in Africa because there's a lot of great soccer players who come out of that part of the world, and I think it will inspire a lot of people to take it more seriously. Everyone plays soccer over there. It can be nothing but healthy for the country overall. I'll probably try to get over there to watch some of it.
SI: Bandmate Boyd Tinsely sponsors a tennis tournament in Charlottesville. Have you ever played in the tournament? Matthews: No, because it's a women's tournament (laughs). But Carter is a very good tennis player. Beauford: Dave's more of an athlete than he's giving up here. I've seen him go. Homeboy has game.
SI: You have been together for 15 years. As we've seen with the Lakers and other teams, guys get tired of each other very quickly. Jealously sets in. How have you stayed together? Matthews: Family is a very important word, both with our own and in this organization as a family. I think whatever sort of poisons come from the outside -- and they principally come from outside -- can effect our relationships. But the truth is, and not to overdo the sports analogy, we all have our position. You got your position and you need to take care of your place and do your thing. We're lenient, but always be on your game. I think that's how we always felt about it. We represent ourselves as best we can because we are are representing each other.
SI: Stand Up is the background music for the Tiger Woods PGA Tour '06 videogame. When the band is playing golf, what background music would it choose? Beauford: If I was playing golf, it would be the theme from Barney.
SI: Your bassist, Stefan Lessard, has the X-Games vert ramp from Philly in his front yard. What does this say about the man? Matthews: Well, I know that if Fonzie [Lessard's nickname] can get to the X-Games, he always goes. Tony Hawk has come to a few of our shows and Fonzie is always there to hang out with him. The thing that's weird is I always thought skateboarders would be little dudes because they have a low center of gravity, but Hawk is a big guy. That doesn't make sense to me. I think I'm too tall to get on a skateboard because I'd bust my ass.
SI: Is there one player, team or sport that no matter where the band is touring in the world, you find yourself trying to get information on how they/it did? Beauford: I love all sports but I have to say this: I'm a big Shaquille O'Neal fan. When he was in L.A., I followed the Lakers quite a bit. Now he's in Miami and I'm following the Heat. We met him in Los Angeles when we were checking into a hotel. We ran into him and said our hellos. He was generous. A great cat. Matthews: When I was younger, I followed the Yankees because I lived just outside of New York. As I've gotten older, similar to Carter, I've just really admired people at the top of their game. A few years ago it was Roy Jones Jr. I admired the way he effortlessly beat the pants off of people. He did it with such grace. It's a form of genius. When you watch someone like [Muhammad] Ali, he had an ability to make something almost impossible seem like it's second-nature. Just the way Michael Jordan did. The things he did physically are unimaginable until you see him do it. Then you go, "Wow, it seems possible." Then you try to do it and your knees shoot out of the back of your head and you end up crumpled. To see someone achieve excellence is beautiful. And sports, obviously, is where you get to watch someone do it. Someone likeJordan or Roy Jones or Ali at his best, I consider those people a genius in the same way that Albert Einstein or Miles Davis are considered geniuses because they have a knowledge that is so exceptional.
SI: There's a story kicking around that Heather Mitts of the U.S. Soccer team sang vocals during one of your shows. Did this happen? Matthews: I know exactly who she is and I would remember the hell out of that. Beauford: Tell her she's invited any time, though. Matthews: Tell her we'd like her to do it again. Only this time we'd like to be there.