By MICHAEL ZITZ
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Most rockers and pop stars probably don't spend a lot of time watching C-SPAN.
But Matchbox Twenty guitarist Adam Gaynor does.
Gaynor was fascinated by the election problems in Florida. And the band was on hiatus or much of November and December, so he was glued to the tube.
"I couldn't get enough of that whole election fiasco," Gaynor said last week in a telephone interview with The Free Lance-Star.
But, ironically, Florida-resident Gaynor didn't vote in the incredibly close election. The band was on tour in Australia on Nov. 7, and he failed to get an absentee ballot.
"I'm the most irresponsible idiot," he said.
Gaynor said that won't happen again because he now has become a political junkie.
He said he watched the inauguration on television with some concern about the new president's safety as he got out of his limo and walked part of the route. But he laughed out loud at something Bush did as he was walking the parade route.
"Dubya saw someone in the crowd he recognized, pointed at the person and made the 'call me' gesture, holding his hand up to his ear and mouth," Gaynor said, chuckling.
"Since the band's had success, I've had people call me wanting tickets and saying stuff like, 'Remember me? It's Bob from P.E. class! We played soccer that day!'
"But I can't imagine the president saying to anyone 'I'm president now! Call me!'"
Gaynor said he wished Bush the best of luck, but that he would've preferred to see Gore win.
When the band played a show at the 9:30 Club in Washington not long ago, a woman approached them afterward and asked her to sign a CD "for Tipper."
"And I'm like Tipper?"
The woman handed him a White House card and asked Gaynor to sign something for Al Gore, too.
"And I'm writing, 'Al! AL! Excuse me, sir, is that OK if I call you Al?'
"They're supposedly huge fans," Gaynor said. "They had the Secret Service call and invite us to the White House to hang out. That would've been a pretty cool thing to do." But the band had to leave town.
"That was my ticket to the White House," Gaynor said about a Gore victory. "I don't think we'll be invited now."
Some might say the fact that the Gores are big Matchbox Twenty fans is an indication that the band is too mainstream, too safe, too commercial.
But Gaynor said he apologizes to no one for the fact that the band has sold 14 million records with earnest and sensitive pop-rock.
"Honestly, it is really important to me, if I'm gonna put my heart and soul into a process that the album is heard," he said. "I would love it if the entire planet heard my album. I would love to sell 10 million, three albums in a row and sit back and have a pia colada."
When the band's debut album, "Yourself or Someone Like You" was released in the fall of 1996, Matchbox Twenty was viewed as just another post-grunge guitar-band. And as their first single, "Push," roared up the charts, it was widely believed that they were a one-hit wonder.
Far from it.
"Yourself or Someone Like You" produced hit singles for three years and many came to embrace the band as defining mainstream American rock at the end of the '90s.
The early success surprised even Matchbox Twenty itself.
"People asked me what I thought after recording [Yourself or Someone Like You] and I said I thought we had the potential to sell 4 million albums," Gaynor remembered. They've almost tripled that, selling 11 million.
And lead singer Rob Thomas' success teaming up with Carlos Santana on the mega-hit single "Smooth" guaranteed that the Grammy-nominated new album, "Mad Season by Matchbox Twenty," would also be a huge seller. It's already certified triple platinum.
But selling records doesn't necessarily mean selling out, Gaynor said.
"This is the stuff I love," he said. "I'm not about selling out. But I am about understanding what business we're in. This is not medical science, this is the entertainment business. And it's nice if you can generate some revenue and financial stability."
He said the band plans to use its financial success to establish a foundation to help others.
"I thank God we're in the position to do that," he said.
But that's not what it's really about, either.
"I'm doing this," Gaynor said, "first because I love it."
"I'm not out to sell my name, to sell my image," he said. "That's not gonna happen.
"But anyone who tells you they don't want to sell a million albums ..." he said, his voice trailing off.
"Do I feel bad for making all this money? I'm sorry. I don't feel guilty."
For more information, go to matchboxtwenty.com on the World Wide Web.