Since Matthews -- a South African expatriate who settled in Charlottesville, Va., after leaving his homeland as a teenager -- put together the genre-blending combo, the quintet's charged live shows have made them one of the biggest pop-rock draws in North America.
Their self-released debut, 1993's Remember Two Things, sold at a rate of more than 10,000 copies per month -- a remarkable feat, considering the album was distributed exclusively from the band's office. Their major-label debut, Under the Table and Dreaming was produced by Steve Lillywhite (U2, Talking Heads, Rolling Stones) and captures every nuance of the band's live shows.
With singer/guitarist Matthews' vulnerable, expressive voice -- which has frequently been compared to Sting -- at the fore, the band (reedman LeRoi Moore, violinist Boyd Tinsley, bassist Stefan Lessard and drummer Carter Beauford) weaves a mesh of sound, that the Raleigh Spectator described as "stunning...as cool, as evil and as furious as rock has ever been."
"The way I look at it, we have five lead voices in this band," Matthews says. "I may be the first thing people notice, since I do the singing, but there are times when LeRoi's sax is the voice, and times when Boyd is at the front. And in Carter and Stefan, we have something that goes far beyond a simple rhythm section. There are very few times when the audience has just one thing to listen to."
The band's third album, 1996's Crash, contained the radio mega-hit "Crash Into Me," which was nominated for two Grammy Awards.
In October 1997, the DMB released a double CD of the group's August 1995 live performance at Red Rocks in Colorado.
In 1998 the band released their first studio album in two years, Before These Crowded Streets, following it up with another tour. Two double-CD live sets followed in 1999: Listener Supported and Live at Luther College, the latter an acoustic duo showcase for Matthews and fellow guitarist Tim Reynolds.