Mark Batson: Infinite Kundalini

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An unstated but unmistakable goal for Dave Matthews Band is to expand their horizons: having conquered the United States, they feel compelled to move onto conquering the world. Whether Stand Up is the musical vehicle that will make that possible remains to be seen, but Batson sounds confident that it's the right sound for the right band at the right time. He sees the band at a crucial moment in their history: they're at a new musical, philosophical, and political point. All have conspired to push the band in a new direction. Batson says, simply, that "this is a good time for them....this is needed."

Mark Batson, in a screen capture from a promotional video.
A good album alone does not make for a global success, of course. Even within the United States, a key demographic missing from their concerts is African-Americans. Though the topic makes many fans uncomfortable -- and momentarily threw Batson when he was asked about it -- many shows present a sea of white faces, which is an odd contrast to a band that is 3/5 African-American. (Or 4/5, depending on the criteria.)

Is it something about DMB's sound that limits their appeal to whites? Batson thinks otherwise, seeing it instead as a problem of marketing. The band, he explains, has been promoted to a particular demographic, packaged as a band for white kids. The band can no more expect to be popular among black teenagers than among British teenagers -- neither has a great deal of cause to be familiar with them, because it hasn't occurred to anybody at RCA to tell these groups about Dave Matthews Band. Batson is quick to point out that "all people like all music" -- that presented correctly, there's simply no reason why any particular group of people should reject any type of music for a reason as flimsy as skin color. RCA, he explains, is going to market the album better than past ones, but the album itself is also likely to appeal to a broader demographic.

"It's going to reach a lot of people who didn't have the music presented to them [before]," says Batson.

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