Total Guitar - Matchbox 20

A European audience to educate and a debut album to live up to... so just why are Matchbox Twenty's Adam and Kyle as cool as cucumbers?

Oasis and the Manics still haven't managed to crack America, but Matchbox Twenty - along with Hootie And The Blowfish and The Dave Matthews Band - are proof that this can work both ways. All three groups have sold millions in middle America yet are almost unknown over here, but Matchbox Twenty are keen to see that trend reversed.

With sales of their debut album, Yourself Or Someone Like You selling ten million, and their second album, Mad Season By Matchbox Twenty just out, the band have returned, defiant, for their fourth UK tour. They may still leave the singles chart largely untroubled, but they've made inroads enough to enjoy playing venues as large as Hammersmith Apollo. Clearly something's going right.

The band are still be best known in the UK for lead singer Rob Thomas' contribution to Santana's worldwide smash, Supernatural, but they hope Mad Season... can finally break the British audience, says guitarist Kyle Cook.

"Even while we were making this record I thought it might do better for us than the first one on an international level," he nods. "The songs and arrangements are more complex and there's definitely a darker vibe going on, so I think there's a chance that people outside the US will dig it more than Yourself Or Someone Like You."

Despite the presence of two guitar players in Matchbox, the term 'twin guitar assault' just ain't applicable. These guys are about songs and there's little room for solo workouts on record or even on stage. Instead, their main priority when on tour is working out who plays what off the album.
"I take a lot of the lead lines," Kyle explains, "and Adam plays quite a bit of acoustic. This album's been harder to translate though. I remember sitting in the studio while we were recording and thinking, 'How the fuck are we going to play this live?' There are so many layers of different guitar sounds and parts, but it's working out, it's just a matter of figuring out which parts are most important - the things people latch onto and expect to hear at a concert."

Whatever punters do hear at a concert, it'll be delivered via a simple but nonetheless exotic selection of live gear, featuring some particularly tasty backline and guitars.

"We both use Budda amps, which is what we used in the studio a lot, they have a cool retro thing about them," Adam reveals, "although I also go through a Roland JC120 for really clean stuff. Kyle uses a Fender Danny Gatton signature for some stuff, I'll use a G&L a lot of the time, and we both play Paul Reed Smiths too. They're fantastic." See, Americans do have taste after all.