We've gotta move on, 'cause Matchbox 20 has a new album out -- "Mad Season By Matchbox Twenty," its first since the band's 1996 multi-platinum debut, "Yourself Or Someone Like You" -- and the band's off to Europe soon to play a bunch of big-time festivals in front of a few hundred thousand faithful.
Of course, no one's ignoring the group's strange journey these past few years. Moving from quasi-alt-rock stardom to Grammy-laden, adult contemporary tune-smithing might not be all that easy, especially when fans' expectations are so high, but the transition seems to have done little to blunt the band's enjoyment of making music. Recently, Thomas and Matchbox drummer Paul Doucette talked with MTV News' Brian McFayden about their current tour plans and other mysteries, like why it's a mistake to follow Barenaked Ladies onstage, and why people who don't vote shouldn't bitch and moan. Enjoy.
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Brian McFayden: The new video for the single, "Bent," is probably the most eccentric video I've seen in a long time. More eccentric than the last video you guys did, "Real World," with the camel and the bowling alley.
Rob Thomas: You know, the "Real World" video was supposed to be like the new Stone Temple Pilots video [for "Sour Girl"]. With big Care Bears and big bunnies and dark and mean and scary, and then when it was all done, it was this happy video.
MTV: What's the reason for all the violence in the new video, where you just get the crap beaten out of you?
Paul Doucette: It was supposed to represent Rob's walking from point A to point B, and there are hardships as he goes his way. Kyle [guitarist Kyle Cook] did an amazing acting job, I must say.
Thomas: Kyle's a little stud!
MTV: He threw you in mud?
Thomas: Yeah. It was four in the morning, and I'm lying in mud. It was pretty funny.
MTV: You guys are playing some of the same festivals this summer in Europe that Santana's playing. Any plans to go on stage with him?
Thomas: Oh, yeah, especially when we're playing the same festivals. That's just a fun thing to do.
MTV: You guys are doing a small club tour, too.
Thomas: We're in the middle of doing a club tour, everything from 800 seats...
Doucette: ...and the biggest one is 1,200, or something.
MTV: Do you like the smaller venues?
Thomas: It's a lot of fun, yeah. It's a lot more fun now, because we have a great sound crew, great techs -- when you bring them into the small club, they still bring you a really good show. It's good energy. I think it's made us happy again, excited to be on the road.
Doucette: Each show's been consistently better than the last.
MTV: It seems like you guys have grown up together.
Thomas: I think so.
Doucette: I hope so.
Thomas: Look at me. I'm a good foot taller than I was.
MTV: I noticed that. And you shaved.
Doucette: I don't [shave]. I grow little patches.
Thomas: Actually, he can't grow hair, so I shave, and then I paste all of my little hairs on Paul's chin.
Doucette: Right. This is all Rob's hair.
MTV: There's so much more I want to know. Eminem.
Thomas: Eminem, I love that new song ["The Real Slim Shady"]. Love it. In fact, today, while my record company is out worrying about who's buying the Eminem record and who's buying the Matchbox 20 record, I will be out buying the Eminem record.
MTV: This whole Napster issue with Metallica. Do have your own issues with MP3s?
Thomas: It's like any new technology that pops up, everybody kind of clamoring to find the best way to use it. But I read something recently that made a lot of sense. It's not about Metallica, whether or not they want people to download their stuff. It's the fact that no one gave them the option. It's taking somebody's copyrighted work without their permission. Of course, you can also use it to start your band without a record company. You can go through the Internet and start your own little company and really distribute your record through the Internet. These are things that could revolutionize the business, and I think you can't look at Napster and say it's a big, evil, corporation, you know? It's just a way to funnel music through.
We found out that our record was available on Napster, like, a week [before its release]. But that was cool, because people came to the show and they would sing along. People still like to buy CDs. It's like going to buy a book. You want to have the CD, you want to put it in your collection. And in a way, your collection kind of defines you. "This is me. This is my musical range."
But there's also that fact of being a live band: there's always the show. I mean, you can download the show, but people are always gonna see you play if you keep touring.
MTV: Are there any big acts that you have opened up for on the road that you would want to have open up for you now?
Thomas: Last time we were out, we had Soul Asylum open up for us, which was weird, because we're all big Soul Asylum fans. So we're all like, every night, all around the stage waiting, watching Soul Asylum play. It was a great thing. What I remember from the festival circuits, though, is you don't want to follow Cowboy Mouth, you don't want to follow Barenaked Ladies. Just because they're wild, crazy. We also did a show once with Blue Öyster Cult.
Doucette: Oh, my God!
Thomas: We played some show in Utica. Us and Blue Öyster Cult.
MTV: Did you guys go on before them?
Thomas: I don't remember, but they are Blue Öyster Cult, for God's sake.
MTV: The election is coming up. You guys don't go on the Web or anything like that, but do are you politically correct? Do you guys follow politics at all?
Doucette: I do.
MTV: Who are you going for?
Doucette: Al Gore. Without a doubt.
Thomas: I'm voting for Bill Bradley, and I don't care what anybody says. I'm still voting for him.
MTV: Can you tell him that Bill Bradley's no longer in the race?
Thomas: Shut up. Shut up. I'm voting for Bradley, I don't care.
Doucette: I mean, you can write in a vote if you want.
MTV: Why should young people vote?
Doucette: It's a cliche, but it's one of the only voices you have right now. I mean, that's how you try to make change. You gotta get behind someone that you want to get behind. I think the real thing is to vote in your primary. That's when you should get involved.
Thomas: In my opinion, I think you should vote just because you're gonna bitch about the country, you're gonna bitch about politics. But chances are, with most people I've talked to, you ask them if they voted, and they're like, "Well I don't vote because I..." And I just say, "Well, then shut up. Just shut up." If I don't make it to vote this year, then I'm not going to complain.
MTV: Who did you vote for last time?
Doucette: I'm such a huge Clinton man. I love Clinton. I think he was the greatest president ever. You know what? Get off his ass.
Thomas: See, I think right about now, Bill's almost out of office, so he just doesn't care anymore. He's walking around on the White House lawn in his boxers.
MTV: Do you think that Hillary will stay with him?
Doucette: I think Hillary will be the first woman president. I seriously do. She rocks.
MTV: What did you do? Babysit Chelsea?
Doucette: I just think they rock. I think [Bill Clinton is] a great president. It's unfortunate, the events that happened to him, because he won't be remembered that way. The man is a good president.
MTV: Do you guys have some sort of ritual that you go through every day before you go on stage?
Doucette: We do an interview with MTV.
Thomas: We usually sing [Heatwave's] "Always And Forever," but normally just the first verse and the first chorus. It kind of gets us pumped up. We find if we don't do it, then we have a bad show. And I try and get in the energy stance.
MTV: What is that, yoga?
Thomas: It's an energy transfer thing, right before we get on stage.
MTV: Can you show us real quick?