A lot of bonding went on in the matchbox twenty world tour

By Nina Garin
Union-Tribune Staff Writer
October 19, 2000

The last time Rob Thomas was in town, he was riding the success of some very popular songs. "Push" and "3am" dominated the radio, his videos were on MTV every half-hour, and his little band from Orlando, Fla., was approaching superstar status.

Things are different now for matchbox twenty's Thomas. Since the release of his band's 1996 debut record, "Yourself or Someone Like You," he's been writing songs with Carlos Santana ("Smooth") and picking up Grammy Awards (1999 Song of the Year, Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals and Record of the Year).

He's also released "Mad Season," his second album with matchbox twenty. It's a record that serves up more rock-driven melodies -- only this time, there's a greater intimate feeling among the band members.

"We've all known each other for a long time," Thomas said while touring in Indiana. "But for the last record, we played over 600 shows -- it was a nonstop process. Going around the world four times with these guys does a lot to your relationship."

Though their music is more collaborative, with other group members sharing some songwriting credit, Thomas said his influences from working with Santana don't show up on this record.

"If there's any change in my music, I won't know until later," he said. "We were already working on 'Mad Season' with the exception of two or three songs. It's funny, because I was the only one who worked with him (Santana), but I've read reviews that say things like they can hear the influence in (Kyle Cook's) guitars -- and he's like, 'I didn't work with Carlos!' "

Though he spent a good chunk of time on the "Smooth" side project, it's time for Thomas to get serious with his bandmates -- Cook, guitarist Adam Gaynor, bassist Brian Yale and drummer Paul Doucette.

"When matchbox time starts, there's nothing else that we do," he said. "We all believe that any extra work you do will make you a better musician, but you've got to have your main focus."

For this record, the band has been focusing on making more of its trademark rock music, the kind with power guitars, catchy hooks and sing-along lyrics.

When matchbox twenty (the band now spells out the "20" because "we were so sick of seeing the number") first hit the scene, there were dozens of Orlando groups, including Seven Mary Three, playing the same style of rock. It's not like that anymore.

"It's odd what's happened to Orlando," Thomas says, referring to the boy-band breeding territory. "We were there in the early '90s gigging around Orange Avenue with all these other songwriters. We didn't know the Backstreet Boys stuff was going on; it wasn't prominent when we were there."

But Thomas says he doesn't mind sharing the TRL spotlight with his fellow Florida-mates, even if the Backstreet Boys have a higher profile.

"I think our biggest criticism is that we have a lack of image," he says. "But I'm happy that our songs are much more famous than we are. I mean, that's our goal, to write good songs."

Thanks to ZenLaup20 for the article!