By Jill Ward
He's sooo "smooth!" Maybe that's why front man ROB THOMAS was voted one of 1998's "50 Most Beautiful People." And let's not forget this year's Grammy for his contribution to "Smooth," the "gi-normous" hit with the legendary CARLOS SANTANA. And all the while MATCHBOX TWENTY prepared for their sophomore release. All in all, it's been quite a "mad season" for Rob Thomas & Co.
Meet band members KYLE COOK (guitar/vocals), ADAM GAYNOR (Guitar/vocals), BRIAN YALE (bass) and PAUL DOUCETTE (drums). What did they have to say about Rob's recent moonlighting success? "They're always busting me, calling me Grammy Davis Jr. or Sir Gramual Jackson," Rob tells Billboard magazine. "It's really a great band. I wouldn't want to play with anyone else." And voila! Matchbox Twenty returns to bring you its release, "Mad Season By Matchbox Twenty."
"The title 'Mad Season' was fitting," says Thomas, "because it actually was a chronicle of this little piece of time after the first record." And what a record it was! Their 1996 Lava/Atlantic debut, "Yourself Or Someone Like You" earned diamond status, speaking to over 10 million consumers. It's hit single "Push" did just that, moving the album right into the Billboard Top Five.
Like their debut, "Mad Season" features more of Rob's gritty vocals and intimate lyrics, while offering up some new musical textures. And according to guitarist Adam Gaynor, the difference is "monumental." There are horn-propelled pieces such as "Black & White People" and "If You're Gone," a tune Rob penned after meeting his recently espoused. The collection also features some rather sultry numbers such as "Rest Stop," a true story about Rob's hitchhiking venture to Daytona, while an orchestra brings some "umph" to the ultra smoky tune, "You Won't Be Mine." Of course, masterful guitar hooks abound in rockers like "Crutch" and the breezy title track "Mad Season." But perhaps the best of the best lies within the album's first single "Bent." The chugging tune features moody guitar, while bassist Brian Yale clocks in overtime. Released last month, the single is already enjoying major airwave success.
"When we made our first record, we hadn't really been a band for very long," says Thomas. "We hadn't had any really good fights, we hadn't had any really good laughs, we hadn't done much of anything together. But now, so much has happened to us that we've formed a character within ourselves. This is Matchbox Twenty making a record. This is the first one where we can really say, this is our sound."
While the band seems pleased with its newfound sonics, it may be a different story for its publicity department. The Orlando-spawned quintet recently decided to change their moniker from "Matchbox 20" to "Matchbox Twenty," a name derived from joining two words off someone's jacket. "I made a joke that we changed it because I was tired of people comparing us to Blink 182," Thomas told USA Today. "It wasn't meant to be anything at all," he says. "We just started writing it out and liked the way it looked."
Pretty no nonsense guys. That's an attitude they seem to share, given the milestone success of their diamond debut. "Your career is just one aspect of who you are," notes Thomas, who was born on a German military base and shuffled between relatives during his youth. "Most of the things I write about are still basic emotions. If you sell a billion records, and the only thing you can come up with to write about is selling a billion records, then you're probably a pretty shallow person. There has to be something else in your life that you can draw on other than 'I'm rich and famous.'" He's so smooth.