Mark Batson: Infinite Kundalini

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If it's a good time in Dave Matthews Band's career, then it's a great time in Batson's. For the first time, Batson has been asked to produce the whole of a major studio release by one of the nation's top artists. Better still, Dave Matthews Band is a comfortable distance from the artists with whom Batson has worked thus far, in terms of both style and audience -- he has the opportunity to make a name for himself with a whole new audience, a whole new label, and a whole new music scene. If the album is a success, the arc of his career is about to go vertical.

When asked about this, Batson talks about himself only briefly. He describes the opportunity as "a musical dream...come to fruition" and "an enormous achievement" before moving on to describe Dave Matthews Band as "the biggest rock band in America," and Stand Up as "a complete statement [that] represents where the band is at now." He's at ease on the topic of Mark Batson so long as he's sticking to his talking points; once off the beaten path, he retreats to the safer territory of singing the praises of Dave Matthews Band.

Batson is firm on the nature of his collaboration with the band. While Glen Ballard seemed to take over and inhabit Dave Matthews Band, Batson describes his role as being more of a facilitator, helping the band down a path that they established. (Batson has only good things to say about Ballard, who he describes as having "his own perfection, and it's a beautiful thing.") He didn't approach the band and say "let's make a hip-hop album"; rather, they selected Batson as the producer best able to move them towards their musical destiny, whatever that destiny may be.

The rhythm-heavy album is formed around the drumming of Carter Beauford, who was able to guide the sound of the album by establishing the beats on which much of the rest of the music hangs. Many critics noted that Beauford's work on Everyday could have been done by a drum machine with little noticeable difference, so simplistic were the album's songs. On this topic, Batson becomes particularly engaged, exhorting: "If you have Carter Beauford in the studio, you better get the fuck out of the way. When you've got a genius in your midst, get out of the way."

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