THE OVERWHELMING SUCCESS OF MATCHBOX TWENTYíS DEBUT ALBUM, YOURSELF OR SOMEONE LIKE YOU, HAS ONLY LED TO BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS.
Such as a collaboration with Santana, the release of a second album that further progresses the band's sound, and yet another world tour. Guitarist Adam Gaynor took a time out with Extreme while in Toronto recently before heading down to the MuchMusic Video Awards ceremony with band frontman Rob Thomas to talk about the band's success.
Yourself or Someone Like You was a slow album to take off after its 1996 release. But after three plus years of touring the band would see the disc reach diamond sales status on the strength of the mega singles "Push," "3 AM" and "Real World." Matchbox Twenty, which also consists of guitarist Kyle Cook, bassist Brian Yale and drummer Paul Doucette, took a well deserved nine month break...well, most of the band did. "Your down time is your down time," points out Gaynor, "you can do whatever you want with it. That means if it so happens that you co-write one of the year's smash hit songs and take home three Grammy awards, then all the better!" Singer songwriter Rob Thomas did just that as he found himself back in the spotlight as vocalist on the track "Smooth" from Carlos Santana's comeback disc, Supernatural. "The band is extremely proud of Rob, he did a great job. To say I just about lost it when they said he won would be and understatement, I was so excited for him!"
Now the proverbial door to success has opened another inch, not only for front man Rob Thomas, but for the rest of the band as well. "I think the repercussions for the band were really strong," says Adam, "it gave us more of a global foundation to step on." It has not only helped the Orlando, Florida band sell records, but has also let them explore other options and solo projects may be in the works for the rest of the band. However, when they come together, their number one focus is that they are dedicated to making albums together for a long time.
So what do you do after your debut album sells over ten million copies? One would suggest to take the same formula, beef it up a notch and produce another hit album. The eagerly awaited Mad Season by Matchbox Twenty hit stores with rave reviews, a free concert in New York, a live web cast, and an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman before kicking off a mini club tour which the band thought would be a great way to reconnect with the fans. "The only thing is the accommodations suck," jokes Gaynor, "it's like paying your dues again in that respect. It's just amazing to be able to be in that small of an environment with a thousand or twenty five hundred of our fans that are just there to go crazy. Obviously we feed off of that kind of energy and I hope we can maybe always go out at the beginning of our albums and just get our feet wet as a band again and basically kinda do something special for people to come up and see us."
Oddly enough, Gaynor admits that the band had no preconceived ideas about how to approach their sophomore release. A fact that many critics picked up on in an attempt to write off the band. "Critics have said that, that's a very true statement. But I honestly can't tell you how it was formulated because we didn't have any clue of what we were going to do when we went into the studio, other than Rob had a core of songs that he sent us during the break and it was just him and his guitar or him on a piano. It's funny that we really didnít have any idea what the hell we would be doing other than going in, having a core of some of the songs, and then waiting to see what else would happen. The first couple of days was like a deer in the headlights. We were looking at each other like, 'ah, what the hell are we going to do next!' And then I think as we started playing through these things we started building on ideas, and once you start doing that things start to snowball a little better."
Still, it took the band nearly seven months to complete Mad Season. "I think that it wasn't any state of lack of material or panic, I think it was really us taking our time putting out a product that we were really happy with. And obviously the easiest route would have been to make the last album again and I don't think we took that route. I think we took a route of just basically doing something that was gong to make us happy. And by doing that and by having Robís melody driven hooks and songs, we hoped that our fans would still identify with that."
On Mad Season, Matchbox Twenty successfully manages to push themselves to a new musical level while retaining the band's hooky pop sound. Though a huge radio single may not be apparent on first listen, the success of the disc's debut single "Bent," and follow-up singles "Crutch" and "If You're Gone" show that Mad Season has legs of its own. Gaynor comments, "To me, it felt like "Bent" is the "Push" of this album if you had to parallel songs. On Mad Season the arrangements are more complicated and more intricate. I mean, basically everything on the last album was written with three chords and with this album Rob did a lot of writing on the piano. We just arranged things differently. We went nuts!"
Indeed, Mad Season has a much different feel than their debut as the band uses a wider variety of instruments, more harmonies, and better production techniques. Gaynor explains. "There is a lot of stuff going on in every song. Some of it's cool, some of it's fun. We utilized the band a lot. Kyle and I did a lot of singing on this album and Paul played some instrumentations. We threw in the kitchen sink! I'm not saying that's always the greatest thing to do, but I think that we did it successfully. It was just something that we just wanted to do for a couple of songs, but then we put some horns here and some orchestration there and I think the game plan, which I don't know if anybody really thought we had a game plan, but I think part of it was to make the album like almost timeless in a sense. Where you can listen to this album in 15 years and it's not going to be like, 'that's a 90s album' or 'that's an 80s' or 'that's from 2000.' It's just an album of songs that you can hopefully hear in 10 years and not really think it's too dated. By mixing up an eclectic arrangement of instrumentation I think it kinda lent us to having an eclectic sound which some people are going to like and some people who love the first album might not like. But at the time it seemed to make a lot of sense."
The last song on the album, "You Won't Be Mine," not only has Thomas playing piano, it has an extra bonus. At the end of the song, it continues on and officially ends with a 68 piece orchestra playing an instrumental piece of music. "We thought the scoring of that actual orchestra was just brilliant in its own right," says Gaynor. "We really just thought it was a great piece of music and the idea that if anybody left the CD on they would actually just hear the orchestra without the rest of the song going on was kinda fun."
As Adam gets ready to head to the MuchMusic party on Queen Street, he is confident that Matchbox Twenty has yet to hit its stride and will be around for a longtime to come. "I think one of my favorite things that Rob says is, 'I donít think youíll be able to define us,' and I agree with it. I donít think youíll be able to define what we are, nor will we until we have three or four albums, then I think we will look at the whole collection of music and just try and figure out what the hell we just did. I think the next album is not going to be the same as this album and itís definitely not going to be like the first album. I mean, we have some decent game plans for some fun ideas, but we always have ideas way in advance and then it makes no sense once we get into the studio!"
- Interview by Shari Blau