One David is a South African expatriate whose band has sold more than 100,000 copies of its independent debut album, distributed from its Charlottesville, Va., office.
The other David, based in Cresskill, N.J., enjoys superstar status in his native Israel, selling out 15,000-seat venues and passing the quadruple-platinum mark with his last album.
Both have an intense, virtually indescribable passion for music and performing and see America as the last great pop hope.
Word of mouth did the trick for Dave Matthews Band’s self-released “Remember Two Things,” which has sold more than 10,000 copies a month since late 1993. Those numbers didn’t slip by the majors; RCA signed the industrious quintet and has just released its big-label debut, “Under the Table and Dreaming,” produced by Steve Lillywhite (U2, Talking Heads).
“Certainly, we didn’t have anything else in the beginning. Taping board tapes and stuff like that was getting the word out,” Matthews said from his home in Charlottesville, near the University of Virginia campus. “We rushed toward fraternities at first so we could make a little money and get people to know us and guarantee us an audience.
“The focus from the beginning, for me, was to keep it together. … It felt really good right at the beginning when we were playing for 10 people. There was something special about it. And I was real honored to play with these guys because I had listened to them for years or knew of them.
“What was also great was that we could see it on the faces of the people, no matter how few there were. There was some sense that if we could do our part right and keep our thing together, then we could get as far as we could get.”
Matthews’ father was a physicist for IBM, and after his death, his mother returned to Charlottesville, where they lived for a time before Dave was born. “After a little aimless wandering, I settled here,” Matthews said. “I love it.”
As for South Africa, “I’d be very happy to perform there some day … the political climate is a lot better.”
David Broza has been at it quite a bit longer than Matthews. He has been touring the states for 10 years since leaving his Israeli homeland, where he enjoys unparalleled pop success.
“I took a big dive when I came here,” the 38-year-old Broza said from his Cresskill home. “I did it because I’m fascinated with this rock ‘n’ roll culture I was born into.
“We’ve managed to beat the odds, I think, with the whole unplugged era and the rise of the indie labels and getting commercial and critical acclaim. It’s basically giving people like myself a chance.”
Broza, a self-professed “urban folk rocker,” landed in Pulse! magazine’s year-end Top 10 list in 1993 with his November Records debut disc, “Time of Trains.” He has since been featured on CNN and appeared on NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.”
An artist-in-residence at Bennington College in Vermont, Broza combines guitar-based melodies with the words of respected poets. He continues that trend with his latest November album, “Second Street” (released Sept. 20), but this time with a full band behind him.
“I used to be electric for years,” he said. “That’s how I started as a kid, with a garage band and all. As I started traveling around the world, the easiest instrument to carry was a steel string or Spanish guitar, but I continued to play the rock songs, adapting the style of playing so that it would sound good on a Spanish guitar.”
Broza credits Eric Clapton’s Grammy-winning “Unplugged” for opening the industry’s ears to other acoustic artists.
“Suddenly record companies that before wouldn’t give us the time of day started listening in and looking for other talent in that vein,” he said.
“People around me say, ‘Look, if you stick at it long enough, either you forget and you’re completely senile and you won’t remember why you’re doing it or else it’ll start happening.’
“It’s really happening now.”
BWF (before we forget): “Under the Table and Dreaming” peaked at No. 11 on Billboard’s pop chart in 1995 and sold more than 4 million copies. Matthews’ follow-up album, “Crash,” reached No. 2 in 1996 and has sold more than 3 million. In November 1997, “Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95” debuted at No. 3. … Check them out on the Web @ www.dmband.com.
More updates: Joe Henry, Marcus King, Lily Kershaw, Poliça, Sarah Brightman, Jerry Leger, Simple Minds, Grateful Dead, etc