Matchbox 20: Only the Beginning

by Adrian Gregory Glover

The road to success can be a long haul. From the moment that they pick up that fabled six string, aspiring musicians have a myriad of obstacles to overcome before ever seeing their name in the bright lights. Matchbox 20 is the perfect example of a band who achieves success the right way. Combining a strong work ethic with a flair for solid songwriting, this band, consisting of Rob Thomas (vocals), Kyle Cook (guitar, vocals), Adam Gaynor (guitar, vocals), Brian Yale (bass), and Paul Doucette (drums), seems to have the goods to deliver for the long haul.

While skeptics consistently shrug the band off as a flash in the pan, here-today-gone-later-today quintet, their live shows continue to shine as the sales of their debut LP, Yourself Or Someone Like You, stay strong. Aided by the success of singles such as "Long Day," "3 AM" and "Push," Matchbox 20 is poised to lay down the foundation for a career that should carry them well beyond one-hit-wonder status. As a storyteller, songwriter and singer, Rob Thomas paints pictures that are at points hopeful, desolate, spiteful and proud. So much so that the listener has to wonder if this all is the result of his own personal struggle. We had the opportunity to chat with him and find out.

InsideCx: The record really feels very personal and intimate. Is that a result of things that you have seen or things that you have felt?

Definitely things that I felt. Iíve been making all of these jokes about how this record is just about fucking up. I just broke up with my girlfriend and it was kind of like I wrote an entire record about just ... fucking up.

InsideCx: The band really seems to work hard, judging by the amount of touring that you do. How is that going to rub off on the next record?

Well, weíve already got a ton of songs written for the next record. But then again, you never know how things turn out once you walk into the studio. I mean, until you actually get in there and do it, itís really hard to tell. But I think it (the next record) wonít be a drastic departure from this record. Weíll try to stay consistent with keeping a lot of variety in our sound. We donít want people to call us a rock band or a pop band or a country band, but yet we incorporate all of that into our sound. You know what I would like to do on the next record? I would like to use the pedal steel guitar on one song. I think that would sound really good.

InsideCx: It must be a pain the ass dealing with the overnight success tag.

Yeah, that does bother me a bit. Itís just because that people donít really understand that there is no such thing as an overnight success. They think that the first time that they hear your music that you just came out of nowhere. They were not around years ago when we were all playing in cover bands, and touring around in these beat up old vans with no heat. I guess itís kind of good that people donít see that.

InsideCx: What songs are the crowds really reacting to live?

"3 AM " is getting a good response, "Back To Good" is another good one, believe it or not "Time After Time" is getting an awesome response.

InsideCx: The Cyndi Lauper "Time After Time"?

Yup, itís just me and an acoustic guitar. Itís coming off really well.

InsideCx: Live, you guys are very emotional and raw. After giving so much live night after night, how hard is it to keep up your stamina?

Well, itís really hard sometimes. But you know what? People donít care if you just played somewhere else last night and you had to drive 200 miles to get there tonight. They only care that they want to see you and that they paid money to see you. So we just say, ĎFuck the excuses,í and just go out there and play as hard as we can. Last (year) we played at a Hard Rock Cafe and the crowd went nuts. We were hoping that they would break stuff just because it would be sort of cool to be the band that tore down a Hard Rock Cafe. So itís cool every night to get up there and do it. Somebody working at McDonaldís would love to be where I am, so Iím going to give it my all . Itís like last night I was almost asleep when we went on stage, but when I heard that ĎWhaaaahí from the crowd I woke right up. Itís like you just go ĎBoooinng.í But like I said, even if you are just playing around in your van, to a lot of people that looks really good in comparison to what they do. So I really just think that you have to just get up there and do it, and not make any bones about it. I think that weíve done our share of playing the role of the third or fourth band on the bill, and playing to not a whole lot of people. So right now for us as soon as we walk on stage we just forget about everything and we just kick it in.

InsideCx: I heard that you guys love to do meet and greets...

Yeah, we love to meet people. I mean we are stuck around the same ten people all the time with our band and crew. Itís good to see some different faces every day. We are like a traveling family in a way, though. Plus we just like to talk to people and get some genuine feedback.

InsideCx: Letís talk about your experiences hitchhiking across the country...

Looking back, I thought I was so immortal when I did that. I didnít have a care in the world when I did that. I just had a few bucks in my pocket, some t-shirts that I threw in a bag, and my little keyboard. I think doing something like that builds character in a way. Things tend not to bother you as much. After sleeping on a park bench for awhile and being homeless, it takes a lot to get to me. I think that besides a death in the family I can just about blow off anything. I spent a lot of nights sitting on an off ramp somewhere just trying to figure out what I was going to do. I got some grea lessons out of that. I did that when I was like 17 to 20 years old. I just went for it , I mean now Iím older and I would never, ever do some of things that I did before. When I was younger I just didnít see the danger in what I was doing. These days I wouldnít walk through a bad neighborhood because I donít want to get my head shot off. Like I said though, I do think that Iím a better person for having gone through that.

InsideCx: If it all ended tomorrow, what would be the one song that you want people to identify the band with?

Damn, thatís a really good question. I think "Back 2 Good" and "Push" maybe. Actually, there is this song that I wrote right before this record that will be on the next album called "Black & White People" that I am really, really proud of. I think that song (would be the one) without a doubt. I would like to say "Whole Lotta Love," but I canít do that!! But I think that maybe weíll write something one day that might be that good, at least I hope so. I think we plan on sticking around for awhile.