COVER STORY: 'Matchbox Twenty'

BY MELISSA SPANGLER, Daily News Staff Writer August 10, 2001

A GOOD MATCH: Soon After Forming, Matchbox Twenty Released Its Debut Disc. Unlike Most Debuts That End Up Failures, 'Yourself or Someone Like You' Skyrocketed the Band to National Fame. Success, However, Hasn't Spoiled This Bar Band From Florida

Matchbox Twenty
With: Train
When: Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Post-Gazette Pavilion
Tickets: $20 to $45
Info: 412-884-2010

"It's a tradeoff."

That's how Adam Gaynor, a guitarist from Matchbox Twenty, feels about his career.

Although it seems like an easy road to fame and happiness, playing for a high-profile band has its drawbacks.

"We do what we do for a living -- and it's a pretty good job," says Gaynor in a telephone interview.

"We bust our (butts) for a year," Gaynor says. "Then we take a year off. It's a fun job, but that doesn't mean there aren't any sacrifices," he adds.

The sacrifices come when he has to leave his family and friends to go on concert tours.

Even though Gaynor says he feels like a traveling salesman at times, he always has a good time on tour.

Along with the giving comes taking. That comes when support is given by the audience, he says. "Anywhere the crowd supports us is great fun," he commented.

With Rob Thomas on lead vocals, Kyle Cook on guitar and vocals, Gaynor on guitar and vocals, Brian Yale on bass and Paul Doucette on drums, Matchbox Twenty is one of the rare groups to score mega-success with their first disc.

The group began as a bar band in Orlando, Fla. Its name comes from Doucette's father, who was a submarine commander. "He worked off (of) the Pacific Coast," Gaynor said. "He was on a mission and the submarine was trapped. All he had in his pocket were a box of matches and 20 cigarettes."

(There has been another theory to how the group got its name. Thomas told the Associated Press inspiration for the name came from a matchbox car and a child's No. 20 baseball jersey. Gaynor said the story was wrong.)

Soon after their forming in 1996, Matchbox Twenty made their debut album, "Yourself or Someone Like You." Unlike many first discs that linger in bargain bins soon after their release, "Yourself" produced a number of Top-10 hits, including "3 A.M," "Real World" and "Push". The debut album went on to sell more than 11 million copies.

A follow-up to that kind of success is daunting, so for the next CD, "Mad Season," the group changed a few things, most noticably their name from a numeral to the spelled-out version, because of the other bands popping up with similarly-formatted names, including Eve 6 and Blink 182.

"Mad Season" was released in the latter half of 1999, and went on to receive two Grammy nominations.

In the short time the band has been together, they have grown to be like family to each other. "They're my brothers," Gaynor said.

Frontman Thomas has become the most visible member of the group, and has achieved success outside of the group. He recently won a Grammy for his performance of "Smooth" (which he wrote) with Carlos Santana.

It actually was an easy process that led Thomas and Santana to sing together, Gaynor says. Thomas wanted to sing with Santana, so he made a demo tape of the song and sent it to him.

"The (record company) was trying to find the right song for Santana," he adds. "They liked Rob's vocals and called him back."

"Smooth" didn't always have its current lyrics. The co-writer of the song, Itaal Shur, told Performing Songwriter magazine it was originally about taking a girl up to the 22nd floor -- but with the same groove and melody.

Writing songs always has not been Thomas's top priority, either. The transition came in the middle of making his first album.

"You start to understand the things that are important, and you realize you want to follow in the footsteps of people you've admired ... it's best to keep your head down and realize that you're just in a band. It's not such a big deal," Thomas recently told Spin magazine.

And whether or not the band cotninues with its phenomenal fame, Gaynor says performing is among its top priorities.

"You have to focus on what you're doing ... and present yourself in a good light," he says. "Make a good first impression."

The guitarist says he gets a tinge of nerves before a show, but it is from excitement -- not anxiety.

"I get excited about the big shows. The more you worry, the less likely you will have a good time ... if you are nervous, get more practice!"

ŠThe Daily News 2001