Matchbox 20 building a career on the road


It's amazing how much time a band can be in the spotlight and still remain sane, let alone still stay together as a band.

Take the career of up-and-coming Orlando, Florida-based group Matchbox 20. Their debut album, "Yourself Or Someone Like You", has been on the Top 100 album charts for more than 52 weeks.

If that ain't amazing enough, how about this? That debut album was released in October -- of 1996! Talk about slowly making your way up the success ladder.

From their early beginnings of empty club dates and small-station rotation, to sold-out theatre venues (approx. 2,500 capacity) and massive airplay his year, this young Florida quintet is reaping in the rewards of stamina, hard work and determination on the road.

"We knew coming into this industry that it was a business and people were here to make money", starts drummer Paul Doucette over the phone from Winnipeg, a few days away from a showcase in Toronto this Friday at Massey Hall.

"We knew of the pressure to make things happen, and we went along with it. We had to understand what was required for people to make it in this business. Selling records and staying on the road were key, and we have gradually increased our popularity and album sales over the course of last year. It's been a good time for us.

"It is great to be out on the road and to be playing these theatre venues," he continues. "I mean, there is that itch to get off the record and maybe start new material but we are so happy to be given the opportunity to tour these venues and put on a show. Putting on a show is something we haven't really been able to do since we started out. We now have the opportunity to do so because of our success, and we are taking advantage of that. We may never have this opportunity to do this again, so we're cherishing the moment."

On the massive amount of interest in the band over the last few months, Doucette assesses the situation and says, "It was great because we had taken our time to get where we are. We managed to take shape as a band (the other members are singer Rob Thomas, guitarists Kyle Cook and Adam Gaynor, and bassist Brian Yale) without people paying attention to us. Being on the road for so long before the hype started helped bring us together more."

So when did the hype begin for the band?

"It happened real gradually for us. It didn't just go 'Boom!' We worked hard and when the first single 'Push' came out it started off things nice for us with good airplay. We have always been a 'word of mouth' kind of band. We aren't one of those bands that you'll see on every cover of every magazine. That's not us."

The thing that seems to be the most endearing and fascinating about Matchbox 20 is their honesty and true reflection on things around them. Their album isn't at all a play on all things cool and trendy. This is music for the masses but told on a real down to earth level. And while Matchbox 20 may be lumped into the same category as other newcomers like Tonic and Creed, they hold their own when the day is done.

"We are nothing like those bands," states Doucette. "I mean ... I know the guys in Tonic. We're friends and I think people lump us all into this category because we all came out at the same time ..."

So you're kind of part of a Molly Ringwald-Demi Moore-Rob Lowe 'rat pack' of new bands coming out?

"Well...," he laughs, "Yeah ... I can see that. Hopefully we end up being successful in the movie business, as was Demi Moore, with her breaking away from the 'rat pack', other than having a career like Rob Lowe."

On a serious note, I ask Doucette on where he thinks his band fits into the vast worlds of the music industry?

"We are no more better than any band out there. Sure there are bands that are way more successful than us and pushing the boundaries of music, bands that are making progress and taking music to a new level. We are not really doing that, rather just being there. I mean, we are at the point in time where people are saying, 'Oh yeah. Great record,' and people are buying it. 'Thank you very much' to the people who are buying our record but 'cause of that it don't make us any better than the other bands out there."

One thing that seems to be obvious about Doucette's take on his career is his fascination with the music industry. His love for competition and taking his band to new heights is high on his agenda.

"I am fascinated by the way this (music industry) works. It is such an interesting business to be a part of and probably the only thing that I could do with myself. I love playing music. We all love playing music. The five of us are very close and right now it is closer than we have ever been. And because of the success in the last little while we have kind of become secluded to the outside world and other people and had to rely on one another."

He finishes, "We have just begun as a band. We feel that we can play and aren't a bad band. We want to see how far we can take this. I can see how many bands come and go due to the hard work and physical aspect of this business. But we're all pretty young, and like I said before we were a young, inexperienced band making this record and there is a lot more that we want to do and explore with Matchbox 20. It's far from over for us."