Spotlight: Matchbox Twenty

Fall is a Mad Season for matchbox twenty.  Their sophomore CD remains resplendent in the Top 25 of the Billboard 200 chart and they're headed to Australia after completing a much-anticipated U.S. college tour.   The album's first single, "Bent," was number one for thirteen weeks in a row on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart.  In a message on their official web site, the band noted that it was "amazing that with all the success of the first album we never had a number one song till now...and you guys did that for us.  So thank you again for always being there for us...we are looking forward to giving you more to listen to this year."  Making good on their promise, matchbox twenty's latest single, "If You're Gone," is already another smash.

The tune's title took on a whole new meaning for guitarist Adam Gaynor, whose green Taylor acoustic was stolen from the side of the stage at a gig in Gainesville, Florida last September 18th. reported this was the second guitar Gaynor had lifted since he joined the band.  The first was the one used during the recording of matchbox twenty's debut album, for which the Taylor was a replacement.  Matchbox twenty told fans that if you, Yourself Or Someone Like You had any information on the theft to call a special hotline.  The devastated guitarist admitted that the instrument meant the world to him for more than just sentimental reasons.  "Every time I touch that guitar," he said, "it feels like magic."

Soon afterwards, Gaynor was picking and grinning again after being reunited with the instrument. After placing a call to confess, the thief made arrangements to return the axe at WMOP AM, a talk radio station in Ocala.  Launch reported that on Monday evening, September 23rd, a man appearing to be middle-aged and wearing a baseball cap dropped off the guitar and left in a truck driven by another male.   The guitar was accompanied by a letter of apology to Gaynor.   Thankfully, the instrument wasn't "Bent" or broken (although the band commented in a recent interview that the instrument hasn't sounded the same since its absence), so Gaynor was able to pick up right where he left off as matchbox twenty continued on the concert trail.

Despite the temporary loss, matchbox twenty managed to cast a spell over U.S. crowds nightly.  Lead singer Rob Thomas told Rolling the tour was exciting for the band because "...the people who come to see us now actually want to hear us play."  Sure, the boys may not have played as late as "3 AM," but they did treat their fans to tasty cover tunes like Willie Nelson's "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" and The Cure's "Fascination Street" during their set.  The enthusiastican response from the crowd lit a fire under matchbox twenty to come back for more.  Look for them to announce more tour dates in 2001.

Traveling comes naturally to Thomas.  Born in Germany, he moved between his mother's house in Florida and his grandmother's place in South Carolina.  After years of drifting, he eventually settled near Orlando and hooked up with bandmates Gaynor, Brian Yale (bass), Kyle Cook (lead guitar) and Paul Doucette (drums).  His bandmates credit Thomas' songwriting style for their incredible success.  "Rob's message is universal," notes Gaynor.  "What he's saying appeals to so many people."  Capturing the isolation he felt during his youth and the joy and heartbreak of romantic relationships, Thomas says, "Most of the things I write about are still basic emotions."  "There has to be something else in your life that you can draw on other than 'I'm rich and famous,'" he observes.

For the Grammy winning singer/songwriter, that thing is often his relationship with his wife, Marisol, the inspiration for several of his compositions including the Grammy garnering "Smooth."  Snippets of the couple's wedding ceremony can be seen on VH1's Rock & Roll Weddings special hosted by Mrs. Thomas herself.  It's not the first time the beautiful bride appears on the channel.  She can be seen dancing in the video for "Smooth" with Thomas and Santana.

When it comes to making music "all you can do," Thomas says, "is hope that people like it."  In both his personal and professional lives, Rob Thomas is a man whose fondest wishes have come true.

-- Jerry Lembo/Lynn Patmalnee