Will "Push" be enough of a shove for Matchbox 20?
If any band has Seven Mary Three written all over it, it's Matchbox 20: M20 frontman Rob Thomas' voice is a nice match for Jason Ross' brooding, sometimes twangy baritone, and both bands share a poppy, grunge-based sound, as well as a label, Atlantic Records. Such similarities -- and the band's hit single, "Push" -- helped Matchbox 20 sell over 600,000 copies of their debut album, "Yourself or Someone Like You." Eventually, they might add up to early retirement.
Largely driven by alternative and Top 40 airplay of "Push," Matchbox 20's album has shacked up comfortably in the Top Ten for weeks and "Yourself or Someone Like You" should go platinum by the end of August. Their problem isn't success, but rather trying to maintain it. Other hit-driven nineties bands like Better Than Ezra ("Good") and Blind Melon ("No Rain") couldn't, and Seven Mary Three ("Cumbersome") is now trying.
"You can't dictate what people are going to be into from one day to the next," Thomas says. "I can't tell if we are going to be a popular band for a long time, but I feel like we're going to be a band." The question, of course, is whether they'll remain a successful one.
The recipe for avoiding one-hit-wonderhood is as unclear as an O.J. Simpson alibi. "It's just a magical combination of music, timing, circumstances and something you don't have any control over," says Daniel Savage, vice president of product development at Atlantic. "Did Hootie come back too quickly [with "Fairweather Johnson"]? I don't know. There's a fine line between coming back too quickly and staying away so long that people forget about you and you're no longer relevant to the marketplace."
Seven Mary Three's "American Standard" went platinum, but its follow-up, "RockCrown," has sold a mere 77,000 copies since its release two months ago. Now selling that many albums each week, Matchbox 20 isn't concerned about maintaining their current level of sales.
"We wanted to do well enough that we ensured that there was going to be no problem with us making our next record," Thomas says. "Once we went gold, we thought at least we could do that. If this one gets a big 'shit sandwich' tomorrow, it's going to be fine with us because we get to do it again."
Now concerned with being remembered as the flavor of last month, Seven Mary Three's Ross no longer sees things that way. "It really does weigh [me] down when you're trying to paint this entire canvas and people are only looking at a corner of it," he says. "It seems a little obtuse to me, but if people are only hearing 'Cumbersome,' that's what they're going to think of Seven Mary Three."