On stage, Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard hangs back, providing the low end of the grassroots groove. But when he’s not on tour, he likes to get outside and play, snowboarding from coast to coast and mountain biking wherever he can. He phoned BRO headquarters during the band’s 70-plus date summer tour that will wrap up at Charlottesville’s new John Paul Jones Arena in September.
BRO: What’s your favorite local snowboarding spot?
SL: Wintergreen. It’s a half hour from my house, and now they have better high-speed lifts than half the mountains out west. It used to be painful to get up to the top of the Highlands. Now I can spend all day there, and then go hit the terrain park. It’s also a great place to teach kids. I’ve been taking my 8-year-old there since he was 4.
BRO: Other favorite outdoor oases in the Blue Ridge Mountains?
SL: When I was growing up, I would go road biking all the time. I’d always go for long trips out near Waynesboro and along Skyline Drive. Now I bring a mountain bike out on tour, so I am constantly trying to find trails when we have days off.
BRO: What are some of your latest environmental projects?
SL: On the road we’ve been encouraging the fans to join Renewus.org, a website that enables people to offset personal CO2 emissions. You tally up how much you drive, and then buy renewable energy credits. Right now bio-diesel is not feasible for our touring capacity, so we offset all that we use. We’re also working with River Rock to build an Eco-Village at our Randall’s Island festival in New York.
BRO: What hints can you give about the new material coming from the studio?
SL: The only thing I can say is that the new music we’re making is really fun. The band has a new energy. At the same time we’re bringing back old songs that we haven’t played in years. There’s something going on right now that feels really good. Old school fans are going to like the new stuff.
BRO: What’s the creative goal with your new website IZStyle.com?
SL: The goal is to let it create itself. It’s a place for creative people like artists, musicians, and athletes to share thoughts. I use it as a place to post a journal, and we have contributors like Ed Robinson from Barenaked Ladies and Adam (Leevees) from Guster. There are a lot of community-based websites out there like My Space, but we’re free of ads and pop-ups. It’s a place that people can come and chill out, like someone’s house, without having Verizon shoved down their throat.
BRO: You close this tour at home for the first time in five years. What’s best about playing back in Charlottesville?
SL: Playing at home is more nerve-racking than anywhere else. It’s like going back to prove something to the peers that we grew up with. The last time we played at home (Scott Stadium, 2001) it was the first show of the tour, so we were nervous and rusty. This time we’ll have our chops and be really tight. Charlottesville is about to get the other end of the spectrum.