Matchbox Twenty rhythm guitarist Adam Gaynor has the nonstop patter of a Catskills comedian, while lead man Kyle Cook, though no less verbally clever, is less hyperactive. Furthermore, the duo's offstage personas are a far cry from the smooth, chart-topping pop sheen the convey in Matchbox Twenty, whose 1996 debut, Yourself Or Someone Like You, sold more than 10 million albums. The follow-up, Mad Season, which features the singles, "Bent" and "If You're Gone," is more musically mature than the band's debut, but despite the sonic variation it still sounds both grounded and energized - as if crafted by a band that's still excited about the art of creation and the buzz of success. As mature as their music become, however, Gaynor and Cook haven't lost their enthusiasm or sense of humor.
Guitar.com: I've heard that you guys didn't feel pressure to match the success of your debut.
Kyle Cook: A lot of the guys have said they didn't feel pressure, but it's impossible for me to believe that there wasn't some haze of pressure from a mountain of records that went out the door. It was staggering. None of us ever expected that. To follow a thing like that up is just... You have to put it out of your mind and deal with what you're doing at the moment.
Guitar.com: You seem to be dealing with everything well.
Cook: I woke up one day and it was all over the radio. Then we sold 10 million records. It's become normal now, and that's becoming strange! I'm reminded of it when kids in the neighborhood come to my door to stand there and look at me.
Guitar.com: I heard Bernie Taupin called Rob to write with him. Kyle, what guitarist are you hoping to get a work invite from?
Cook: I greatly respect Santana, but I've spent more time studying Jimmy Page's music. Technically, he wasn't a totally proficient player, but the ideas stand up, the movements and the chords. The songs are classic, as is his creativity. Eric Clapton is one of those people too that really plays guitar and uses it as a solo instrument and as a voice. I got to meet Jimmy Page. We were out in Europe, and Rob was doing "Smooth" with Santana, because [Santana] was passing through town. We were there and we all went along [to the show], and [Santana] asked me if I wanted to hop up on stage to play, then Jimmy Page showed up before the show and I got to meet him. What do you say to Jimmy Page? My wife said I was slobbering.
Guitar.com: You used the word "studied" regarding Jimmy Page.
Cook: A lot of people listen to records; you can listen to a song from beginning to end, but I'm talking about really sitting there with an instrument. A lot of times I work things out on piano to get a feel for that instrument as well, and the way you can apply it to music. I'm talking about figuring out each note: what is this note, what impact and mood is being created? I'll go to those import shops where you get little wood carvings and buy world music CDs. I'm listening to some Ravi Shankar right now, and classical has always been a part of my love for arrangement. When I hear something that touches me, I do feel like I need to study it to understand it so I can reproduce that with what I write. Otherwise you can just sit in a niche.
Guitar.com: Adam, you and Kyle were the last guys to join the band…
Adam Gaynor: They originally only wanted one guitarist. When I came aboard I felt immediately that everything Rob was doing -- chord phrases and shapes and the familiarity of things -- was stuff I've always worked on as a writer. It felt so natural. I don't think I would have won an audition for any band on the planet other than Rob. That's the first time I've ever said that. Then they realized I wasn't a lead player, or had those chops, so we got Kyle, an angel-voiced singing guitar player.
Guitar.com: Adam, how old were you when you began playing?
Gaynor: I was 12 when I started to play, and it was pretty much the same level I play now (laughs). I took a big class at first, 15 kids, but I knew I was getting good because I was walking around the class with the teacher, helping everybody else get their finger shapes together. I started because of my older sister, Shari. She was my inspiration. She was playing first, and got so much attention it was pissing me off. I'd be practicing my "Tom Dooley" songs around the house, trying to push her over, but she outweighed me back then. She's an artist and art therapist now. Dad Gaynor can play a little piano and sing a little if he focuses. But Mama Gaynor was a great singer, and she could play a little piano, too. It could have been a Partridge Family thing, I tell you.
Guitar.com: Kyle, how about you, did you study theory, do you read music?
Cook: I started playing violin at the age of 9. I haven't read music because for the last four years I've been going (sings) "bo, bo, bo, do, daum." It's not like we get up on stage and read charts. I did start reading, and studied classical; my dad, when I was younger, kinda pushed me into that. I remember Guns N' Roses just came out when I was a kid, and I was all about the leather, you know? The rock thing grabbed me. My father has been that air of sophistication in my life. I was like, "Dad, I don't want to play Bach." But it's been good for my career, now I really appreciate all kinds of music. I went to the Atlanta Institute of Music for a year. I wanted to understand theory a little bit, so I would have more options.
Guitar.com: You're a very precise player; do you ever let loose and jam?
Cook: I kinda miss that. This is a pretty precise band. But we do that at soundcheck sometimes, really let go and we do a little bit in our live show. I love doing that, 'cause I've listened to a lot of jazz, which is amazing strictly for the improvisational value. It's this palette and you're allowed to paint whatever you want and it's never going to be the same twice. I like to record a lot of things spontaneously, and go back and possibly build it into a song.
Guitar.com: Adam, at home, what do you have guitar-wise?
Gaynor: I'm looking at my wonderful brand-new Taylor guitar, which I really love, which is green and really dark and rich and acoustically beautiful. They're not giving me guitars for free, I'm just saying it 'cause I'm very happy. It's for live, but I wanted to play it at home for a little while. It's like my new baby.
Guitar.com: Adam, how many guitars to you have overall, and how many do you use on the road?
Gaynor: 322, I think! No, like 10 or 20? If you take one minute, I can figure it out. (Long pause). About 17. So If I have 17 guitars, I'd take 10 with me. Or eight? Two acoustics, two main guitars, two others, some backups. I take G&L with me now. They're my new buddies. They have made some wonderful guitars for me. I'm not an advertising whore, but when I love something…even if it was a Nokia phone, I don't get it for free. Me and these G&Ls are having a beautiful relationship and they gave me a guitar that we kind of built together. Paul Reed Smith was sweet enough to give me some that I've been using.
Guitar.com: All your guitars have the same tunings?
Gaynor: I would never not tune them (laughs). I like to use the capo. I like to sing. Sometimes we go and get waffles.
Guitar.com: Perhaps there's a comedy club that could use your services? So what are your personal goals, guitar-wise?
Gaynor: Honestly, you want to do something a little different. You want to support Rob's melodies. I won't speak for Kyle, but I think our jobs as guitar players and vocalists -- it's important we work with both instruments. They're both intricately played upon with each other.
Guitar.com: How would you describe your ideal tone, Adam?
Gaynor: I would not really know what to say other than I sound like that guy from Matchbox Twenty that has those tones that are rich and earthy, and sometimes cutting, but sometimes open and supportive and acoustic and sometimes biting. But they're always clear and clean and crisp.
Guitar.com: And for you, Kyle, at home, what's your day like, musically speaking?
Cook: I have a three-car garage, and part of it is a space filled with instruments -- percussion, amps, guitars, a digital recording unit. We have a nanny early in the day to help my wife with our baby so I can work for three or four hours out there. I'm actually talking with some people about doing movie scores. I'm extremely interested in that, and being able to highlight the moods of the dialogue. To me, that sounds like something challenging that would be a lot of fun. A lot of times [in films] the music can imply whether you're going to cry, or it's funny.
Guitar.com: Does music itself make you cry?
Cook: Yeah, it depends. But I think you have to be a little bit broken at that point. But there's a lot of classic that's beautiful, and plenty of songs. And a lot of Beatles stuff. If I get a little too high and listen to Abbey Road, the end of that.... (Sings) "Golden slumbers fill your eyes, sleep pretty darling, don't you cry...." You could find me in the corner bawling.
Guitar.com: Kyle, your career is at a major high point. How long do you see yourself doing this?
Cook: I don't know yet. I want to gear my career toward studio work. I love touring. It's fun, but I really feel creative in the studio. And definitely with a family; it makes it hard to be away from the family. It's hard to say. I see the Stones in their 50s. We got to open up for them, and I love them. But I don't look up and go, "I want to be Keith Richards," still touring and doing rock god moves when I'm his age. There are two other guys I'm working with, we're definitely going to do records together, but I've committed myself to this project right now. I never saw myself as someone who really wanted to tie down to any one thing for years and years at time.
Guitar.com: You used Matt Sereletic to produce both Matchbox Twenty Records.
Cook: Matt is called the sixth member. He scores and comes up with beautiful arrangements. We work really well together on guitar parts and layerings and he's very open to my suggestions. There are a few lines intended for guitar that I would either sing or play for him, and he ended up incorporating them into string lines. He's inspiring to work with.
Written by Katherine Turman