matchbox 20 to play Thomas Wolfe Auditorium (Feb. 5, 1998)

A band with a 1998 Grammy nomination, matchbox 20 will include Asheville in its current concert tour by performing at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium on Feb. 7 at 8 p.m.

The rock band with alternative sound became popular with singles "Long Day" and "Push" that climbed high on radio charts from their album "Yourself or Someone Like You."

"Push," one of their most successful singles that topped Modern Rock (alternative) and Mainstream Rock radio charts, has brought them fame as well as controversy.

People that do not know the band's intentions sometimes think that lyrics like "I want to push you around, I will, I will/wanna push you down I will, I will/wanna take you for granted," refer to physical violence.

"Some people get the wrong idea and think it is about physical violence, when it is really about emotional violence," said Rob Thomas, lead vocalist, in a press release.

Instead, it is really "a song about how I was manipulated and how I handled it; how I grew to like it and got comfortable with it. I felt that the only way you could have a relationship was if you were being controlled or if you were being manipulated," said Thomas in a press release.

Despite the controversy about the lyrics, fans enjoy the simple vocal melodies and heavy, layered guitar melodies. The music is "loaded with guitar-driven melodic rock tunes and emotionally charged vocals," said Guitar World magazine.

Though they have been successful and even received a Grammy Award nomination in the category of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for "Push," they have come under criticism for having a musical sound that some think is generic and trendy.

"The one major criticism that's been leveled against matchbox 20 is that the band is one of a number of 'faceless' rock groups who appear on rock radio and MTV, rise rapidly with one hit song (almost always a ballad), then disappear just as quickly, selling a lot of copies of a current album but leaving nothing in the way of a core following," said Don Kaye in Maximum Guitar magazine.

"Faceless" means that a band's sound is not really different, unique, or even identifiable from other popular mainstream bands.

Some UNCA students share this sentiment about matchbox 20 and other popular bands that are part of the recent string of rock bands that all seem to have a similar sound.

"I cannot stand them because all of their music has no meaning. It is a sound that gets even more generic every time someone new does it," said Demedrius Williams, junior music major.

Though, according to some critics, the band may not have a unique sound, its members do have persistence.

The five-man band has three original members that have been playing in various bands since high school.

Thomas, bass player Brian Yale, and drummer Paul Doucette stuck it out for years "based partly on Doucette and Yale's belief in the new songs Thomas, a natural and prolific writer was coming up with," said Kaye in Maximum Guitar magazine.

"To us, we were just playing the songs and losing ourselves in them. It is like if you come to a rehearsal, you are gonna see the same thing. It is not something we can really help," said Thomas in a press release.

After finding a producer willing to record demo tapes, they recruited their last two band members: lead guitarist and background vocalist Kyle Cook from the Atlanta Institute of Music, and rhythm guitarist and background vocalist Adam Gaynor from Criteria Recording Studios in Miami, Fla.

The band eventually got a label with Lava/Atlantic Records.

"We have just believed in our music enough that we hope it embraces everybody," said Gaynor in an article in Maximum Guitar magazine. "If we like what we are doing and we are proud of what we are doing, we hope that everybody will respond the same way. That is the key ingredient behind this band. Word of mouth is what made everything start happening."

Concerning criticism that matchbox 20 will become a faceless band, or a band with only one hit album, Gaynor said in Maximum Guitar magazine, "As deep as a well that Rob has for writing, that well has not even been tapped. Plus Kyle writes beautiful songs. Paul came out of nowhere with really nice songs, and I am writing songs.

"So the next album will have a lot of stuff by Rob again and a few collaborations as well. It will only strengthen the band, make our sound fresher, and just give it a different edge. So I am not really worried about the follow-up album," said Gaynor.