THE MEMBERS of Matchbox 20 - Rob Thomas, Kyle Cook, Adam Gaynor, Brian Yale and Paul Doucette - are set to haveone hell of a summer and they have an attitude that is cool enough to enjoy it. The band's Atlantic/Lava debut, Yourself or Someone Like You, is selling more than 23,000 copies a week, placing it in the top 50 with a bullet on album charts. The single "Push" is in the top 10 on most rock radio charts and the band gets to share the stage with some of the hottest new bands to hit the touring circuit.
Matchbox 20's retail and radio success didn't come without some work. The band has spent a lot of time on the road, both as an opening act with artists like The Lemonheads, No Doubt and Jars Of Clay, and as club headliners. This summer, the band will spend quite a bit of time on stage as part of various festivals. Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas told POLLSTAR that one of the great things about developing within the festival circuit is the opportunity to meet your peers and watch them perform. Thomas is one of those guys who, at 13-years-old, would hang out around tour busses for a glimpse inside the world of rock'n'roll. Today, still being so star struck and so interested in music makes Thomas one of the most job-lovin' guys in the concert business.
Thomas is genuinely excited about what is coming to the band. The first big gig, the first mention of Matchbox 20 in major magazines, the first time the video was played on MTV - all these things bring nothing but pure joy to Thomas's life. But the songwriter's future wasn't always so bright. Up until two years ago, the guys had all played in various bands but nothing had really gelled. However, when the five musicians came together as Matchbox 20, everything turned around.
Thomas said, "We took this month where we rehearsed like 12 hours a day every day of the week. And we were going crazy because we were actually having a good time playing again. We just couldn't stop. And all of our girlfriends were yelling at us because we never came home. We spent all of our time working on these songs." Thomas said when the band finally hit the stage for its first gig as Matchbox 20, it felt orgasmic. Thomas said, "It was just like ... ahhhh." After two years gigging and recording, that excitement continues. "I think it's still going on, which is the cool thing," he said. "We're having such a good time playing."
If Thomas could have his way, he'd never get off the stage. "I never want to come off the road," he said, "partly because, 'out of sight out of mind'.... And part of it is just because this is so much fun. To go home is just to sit and to waste away and eat too much and go out drinking too much." Thomas said instead of hanging out in bars saying, "Hey, look, I've got a record out" and trying to score, it is far better to be on the road getting the opportunity to see new places and meet new people. In fact, "I'm having such a good time," seems to be Thomas's catch phrase for the summer of '97.
The level of success coming to Matchbox 20 has definitely taken a step up. Thomas said, "Things are starting to go really good. I think with a little MTV exposure and press - and radio has been really good - all these things [fuel sales]. And I think album sales perpetuate themselves." Thomas said the first indication that things were looking up was when more people started coming to their shows. He said, "You don't walk in wondering, 'Oh my god, is anybody going to be here?' You can walk in and just think about how you are going to put on a good show because ... every night you're having a nice crowd. You're selling out these places - they're not huge places - but it just shows that interest."
Thomas said the band is also quite happy with its current headlining club tour. Giggling, he said, "You get more soundcheck time. You get to play more songs and more girls want to talk to you." Speaking of female fans, Thomas looked back at Matchbox 20's tour with The Lemonheads. "It's hard to come on before Evan Dando," he said. "Girls come rushing up to you after the show and they're like 'Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!" Then they say, "Can you introduce me to Evan? Your ego just deflates."
Dealing with a moment of ego deflation is worth it for Thomas, considering all the cool things that come along with being a popular recording artist. Deep inside, he's still that 13-year-old trying to peek inside the tour bus. "I'm still like, freaky, star struck," he said. "I got to get up and sing with the Verve Pipe in Minneapolis at a radio festival. They brought me up and I did 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' and I was freaked man! because I'm a fan." When Thomas wrote in his journal that evening, he practically sang like a spoiled little kid: "I got to sing with The Verve Pipe."
When Matchbox 20 spends the afternoon at a big festival after doing a short set early in the day, its members get to enjoy the concert from the audience's point of view. Matchbox 20 recently played a festival in Milwaukee that Beck was doing. The band thought it would be a great idea to wear T-shirts that read, "We'll play for Beck tickets," because that's how they viewed their participation in the event. "We went on first and there weren't really a lot of people there," Thomas said. "We only played for a half of an hour and our whole mentality was, 'Man if we get this half hour over, it's like a free Beck [concert].'" Thomas said when Matchbox 20 was playing, he turned around and with overwhelming excitement, mouthed to his drummer, "Beck!"
Matchbox 20, which is booked by Carole Kinzel at CAA and managed by Lippman Entertainment, will get many more opportunities to enjoy its career in the near future. In addition to the many radio fests and club gigs, the band gets to participate in what is being touted as the biggest rock concert in of the year, Blockbuster's RockFest at the Texas Motor Speedway. The fest is expected to draw 300,000 people with a lineup that includes Bush, No Doubt, Counting Crows and many more. Thomas said, "I can imagine that [for] Bush and No Doubt and the Counting Crows and all [of the acts] for this music fest, there probably will be more people than any of these bands will ever get to play for, ever - 300,000 people. It's like, man, [artists] are going to take that because that's just fun. That's what it's all about. When you're a 12-year-old punk with a guitar, that's your dream. That's what you're thinking of right there. Nobody probably had their arm twisted for that one.... We were just so happy that they asked us to do that."