Matchbox 20 on fire (article with Brian)

Celebrity status now a reality for hot new band

By BEN RAYNER -- Ottawa Sun

Matchbox 20 has apparently hit a milestone on the road to rock and roll superstardom.

The members of the Orlando, Fla., quintet -- which, over the past year and a half, has quietly sold seven million copies of its debut album, Yourself or Someone Like You, worldwide -- have reached the position where they have to check into hotels under assumed names.

Thus, on this particular afternoon, it's not bassist Brian Yale registered at an Edmonton hotel, but someone with an altogether different -- some might venture cute, even teddy bear-ish -- name.

"Don't print it, please," pleads Yale, who's been forced to adjust to life in the spotlight since video-channel staples like Push and 3 a.m. made the Matchbox boys household faces, if not names.

Like fellow Orlando-ites the Backstreet Boys, they're even the subjects of personalized fan pages on the World Wide Web. But Yale, at least, sounds like he's enjoying the good life to some extent: He's on a stated mission to "play golf all across your fair land" during Matchbox's latest tour of Canada, although he admits he's not quite ready for the Masters yet.

"I'm trying to be," he says. "I got a birdy today on a par 4, and I got another par. It's a little windy. There are forest fires all around. Yesterday, there was smoke everywhere. It was like Los Angeles or something."

Monday's Matchbox 20 show at the Ottawa Congress Centre will mark the third time the road-hardened band has paid a visit to these parts in about a year.

But the move from clubs to larger, all-ages venues on this tour means it will be the first time many of Matchbox's younger fans get a chance to see the group without first purchasing a fake I.D.

"In the beginning, we were playing clubs exclusively, so they hardly got to see us then," acknowledges Yale, adding this latest road trip has given the band a much better idea of who its admirers are.

"What's really amazing is the wide, wide age range, because the little 13-year-old girls up in front are just crazy. Then you get the high-school kids in the mosh pit going nuts. Then you get the 20-somethings and the 30-somethings behind them.

"It's like kids and their parents -- everybody."

Matchbox fever is spreading, too. The band recently returned from a tour of Australia (where, Yale reports, "we're probably more popular than in our own country, per capita"), New Zealand, Germany and Holland.

And it's likely a return trip to England is in order, since Yourself or Someone Like You was released there six weeks ago.

The sleeper hit has been out since October 1996, meaning Matchbox is approaching, and will likely surpass, two consecutive years on the road in support of the album.

But Yale, for one, says he isn't sick of the touring the same songs yet.

"I'm that guy who always thinks we can play it better, so I don't really mind," he says.

"But there are other people in the band who are getting a little tired of them. We do have a brand-new song we've been playing over the last month, and we have a couple of B-sides that we've been playing all along, but a lot of people don't know them. And sometimes we bust out a cover ... I'm a little tired, I need a little bit of a break, but there are worse jobs."

Besides, he adds, "by the time we finish, it'll be silly the amount of records we've sold."