Matchbox 20 Ignites Charts With Melodic Rock

By Jim Minge, Omaha World Herald (Nebraska)

After Matchbox 20 opens for the Rolling Stones in November, frontman Rob Thomas jokes, "We're going to quit."

"Without a doubt, they are the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world," Thomas said last week from Los Angeles. "What more can we do after opening for the Stones?"

Fortunately for Matchbox 20 fans in the Omaha area, the pop-rock band plays at the Civic Auditorium's Mancuso Hall prior to that opening date for the Rolling Stones.

Tuesday, the Orlando, Fla.-based band - with hits "Push" and "Long Day" - will make its debut in the Big O.

The 8 p.m. concert is sold out.

With a brand of rock that minds its melody, Matchbox 20 will offer cuts from its debut album, "Yourself or Someone Like You" (Lava/Atlantic), including the band's newest single, "3 AM."

The song that broke Matchbox 20 earlier this year - eventually fueling double-platinum album sales - was "Push," a song whose lyrics have caused a stir.

Consider a couple of lines from the chorus: "I wanna push you down, I will I will/I wanna take you for granted."

Some critics have speculated that the song promotes abuse of women.

"They think it's about beating my girlfriend," said Thomas, lead singer. "A lesbian group in New Hampshire tried to ban our record.

"The song has nothing to do with physical or mental abuse of women; not at all."

Another rumor that sprang from the radio-friendly song - which has received local airplay from several stations - was that an ex-girlfriend of Thomas' was suing him for royalties to the song because she claimed it was based on her.

"I was sitting there watching MTV and there it (the reported rumor) was," Thomas said. "I called my lawyer and was like, 'Am I getting sued?'"

Together for three years, the band's choice of a name was just a random selection.

"It doesn't have anything to do with the toy cars," Thomas said. "We just sort of made it up."

Of the odd-looking fellow on the cover of the group's album, Thomas said, "I have no clue who that is. We've never met the guy. We just liked the picture."

For a pre-show warmup, Thomas claims the six band members huddle and sing "Always and Forever."

"We really do; the first verse and the chorus," Thomas said. "It's like a ritual. We feel like we're in trouble if we don't do it."

Opening act Tuesday will be Lili Haydn, who is supporting her debut album, "Lili" (Atlantic).

"She's a violin player," said Thomas. "She's really good, and her music is really, really unique."