10-month wonder (article with Paul)

Friday, August 7, 1998


MATCHBOX 20: With Soul Asylum and Semisonic. 7:30 tonight. PNC Bank Arts Center, Garden State Parkway, Holmdel. $22.50. (732) 335-8698. The groups also perform 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jones Beach Amphitheater, Long Island, $15, $28, (516) 221-1000.

Special to The Record

A few blips and beeps, courtesy of a bad telephone connection, interrupted a recent chat from Atlanta with Paul Doucette. However, the Matchbox 20 drummer didn't mind.

"I love funny noises like that," he said. "Any kind of noise fascinates me. ... I'm so sick of normal sounds."

That's somewhat ironic since Matchbox 20 crafts "normal sounds." The Florida-based band's debut album, "Yourself and Someone Like You," is composed of catchy, albeit conventional, pop.

"We connect with the common man," said Doucette. "There's no doubt about that."

Propelled by such infectious singles as "Push," "3 AM," and "Real World," the album has sold more than 7 million copies.

It's no wonder that Kid Rock, the band's Atlantic/Lava label mate, raps about "making Matchbox 20 cash."

"We're not quite Atlantic's biggest moneymaker, but we're close," said Doucette. "Jewel has sold a few more thousand albums than we have, but we're right on her butt."

The story of the band, which headlines tonight's show at the PNC Bank Arts Center and Saturday's at the Jones Beach Amphitheater, is amazing considering that Matchbox 20 was a virtual unknown a year ago. The group, which includes vocalist Rob Thomas, guitarists Kyle Cook and Adam Gaynor, and bassist Brian Yale, has gone from playing tiny clubs to headlining arenas and amphitheaters within 10 months.

"It's incredible that we've gone from nowhere to somewhere so quickly," said Doucette. "It allows us to do what we need to do. Before we became as successful as we are, we would make suggestions to the record company and sometimes they wouldn't happen, but now if we want it, we get it."

Plenty of bucks have been invested in the band's current tour. Two large video screens and an elaborate lighting system complement Matchbox 20's 80-minute set. "We're giving the audience plenty of eye candy," said Doucette. "It's the big rock show."

The group's set list is made up of tracks from the debut album, as well as B-sides and a cover of "Nothing Compares to U," written by The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

Matchbox 20 thought about covering a Replacements song but couldn't agree on which one to do.

"But it worked out for the best," said Doucette. "I think if you're going to play a Replacements song, you got to do it like them. They were sloppy and drunk. I don't think we could pull that off."

After the tour ends in late '98, the band will reconvene in April to begin work on a new album.

"A lot has changed in the three years since the songs for 'Yourself' were written," said Doucette. "We're all into much different things than we were back in '95. I'm really into rap and I'm especially into Massive Attack. I love that [trip-hop] sound coming out of Brighton [England]. So it will be interesting when we start making the next album. I'm tired of the natural sound. I'm more into the experimental side of things. But I do have a tendency to go overboard with that stuff. Fortunately the band helps me stay grounded.

"... What you'll have is a pretty different record since we've grown so much and we're an actual band now. We were just together for a few months when we recorded the last album. ... We're all different, but we're on the same page once we're on the stage or in the studio."