Matchbox Twenty: love Ďem or hate Ďem

Theyíre not going anywhere, guitarist says

By Steve Hammer

"Steve?Ē Atlantic Records publicist Carise Yatter asked me. ďHereís Adam.ĒAs in Adam Gaynor, the rhythm guitar player for the zillion-selling yet critically ridiculed Matchbox Twenty.

Matchbox Twenty will be playing at Verizon Music Center on Aug. 7. You either like their laid-back, pop-influenced music or you donít. There seems to be no middle ground with these cats.

Critics have called them ďthis yearís HootieĒ and ridiculed lead singer Rob Thomas on various fronts. On the other hand, millions and millions of music buyers have picked up their CDs.

So when Gaynor picked up the phone, defending his bandís artistic integrity was not on his mind. Having a good time with me was, however.

Gaynor: Iím wiping the phone with my sock. I have never seen such a disgusting phone in my life. Itís a little better, but itís gross.

Me: Hey.. howís it going...

Gaynor: STEVIE!

Me: ĎSup.

Gaynor: Little Stevie! Can I tell you something? I have a ó I wouldnít call him a friend, because heís somebody I grew up with and heís a couple of years older than me. But he lives in my building and his name is Steve Hammer.

Me: No way.

Gaynor: Itís kind of weird when you find out someone has your same name. You kind of freak, donít you?

Me [freaked]: Yep. It is bizarre.

Gaynor: So howís Steve Hammer doing?

Me: This one is fine. Howís your buddy doing?

Gaynor: He seems to be fine. Heís a very handsome man. Heís kind of got that Robert Redford vibe to him. Heís a ladiesí man, heís a lawyer, heís all set, yíknow?

Me: That pretty much describes me, too, I guess. {both laughing} Where are you calling me from?

Gaynor: Iím in South Florida, just chilling out, getting some crap done and running around a lot and just relaxing before leaving in four days.

Me: How can you prepare for a two-month tour?

Gaynor: You want to put your life both in order and on hold for two months. Itís a little weird. Itís a little disconcerting. And the first thing you need to do is clean your house. And my house is a wreck. And basically everything I own in my life is piled up four feet thick on a pool table. And I have three days to get it in order. And today I had to do some other work and now Iím stuck on the phone with Steve Hammer.

Me: Um..

Gaynor: Can I be honest with you? I love doing these interviews.

Me: It seems like the interviews where people try to be all serious and straight with you are really shitty and boring.

Gaynor: THANK YOU FOR NOTICING THAT! I donít care what you need to ask me, and I know sometimes every reader needs to be informed of whatever you want. But I appreciate that just being an open statement of honesty. Iíve had some really shitty interviews. The staple stuff just doesnít excite me and I can go through it, and when Iím in that kind of a mood, Iíll just make up lies and that makes it more fun anyway.

Me: Some bios I read said you spent some time in Indiana but others donít.

Gaynor: That has been around for so long. It was a mistake in one piece and itís been spread since. KYLE is from Indiana.

Me: But I was alarmed to see in one interview that you said you were glad the Indiana Pacers lost the finals last year. Donít come here and say that. Itís a very, very bad thing.

Gaynor: Iím SORRY! Are you from Indiana?

Me: Yep.

Gaynor: Well, Iím a New York boy. I was born in New York. So what I am is probably a Knicks fan, and Knicks and Reggie Miller donít get along. So hereís the deal: If Reggie was on the Knicks, Iíd love him. Not on the Knicks, hate Ďim. I actually love most of the Pacers. We can go with your Jalens and Davises and IĎm very well briefed and knowledgeable on sports, much more than I should be.

Me: Do you think Jermaine OíNeal has a future with the Pacers?

Gaynor: Of course he does.

Me: Webber just inked a deal today with the Kings. Do you know what it was for?

Gaynor: $123 million over seven years, the most you can make in the NBA with the salary cap.

Me: Thatís about what you guys make on an average tour, right?

Gaynor: No, I actually make $123 million. But itís over 10 years, not seven. [Laughs]

Me: So whatís the stupidest question youíve ever been asked in an interview?

Gaynor: It would have to be something about whether I was from Indiana. [Laughing] I was proud of your boys, being a sports fan. Youíve got to be proud of the way they played. I think theyíre in a lot of trouble now. They had that pinnacle, theyíre losing pieces and that sucks for them. They needed to add pieces and they took away pieces. On a vibe level, Iím very sorry for them. Their time has come and gone. The Pacers were building and building and then they hurt their team.

Me: But even if the Pacers just win 10 games next year, two of them will be at Madison Square Garden with Reggie hitting a three with :0.3 on the clock.

Gaynor: Miller is possessed and thereís not one other player youíd want on the court in that situation.

[Chatter follows: a discussion of the Philadelphia 76ers, Allen Iverson and the innate goodness of Coach Larry Brown, the new NBA rules changes.]

Me: We havenít even talked about Matchbox Twenty music yet and thereís some stuff I want to hit.

Gaynor: Anything you want, Babyface.

Me: Did you know that the highway running through Indianapolis is called the Kenneth ďBabyfaceĒ Edmonds Highway? Heís from here.

Gaynor: No itís not. I love that. I like Babyface. Heís very cool. One of my trippiest moments is playing the American Music Awards and looking at the front row. And thereís Babyface. Me and him had eye contact for just a second and that was enough. I am a big fan, and that freaked me out. Just having him sitting there was pretty damn cool.

Me: Did he nod or give a wink of approval or anything?

Gaynor: He tilted his head, he gave me the gunshot thing, he gave the thumbs-up, he crossed his legs to the left ó [laughing]. And sitting next to him was Julio Iglesias, who I worked with when I was answering phones at Criterion Studio. So that was cool too.

[Chatter follows: about the Beatles and Kiss and how Gaynorís dad worked with Paul Stanley of Kiss. Discussion somehow turns to the media]

Gaynor: A certain magazine or certain magazines really have it in for us. As a player and a band member, it doesnít matter. If weíd sold 100,000 albums on the first one, Iíd be pretty freaked and worried and needing to make major adjustments and figuring out what went wrong. But because we sold 13 million, I canít let criticism bother me. I canít lie to you and tell you it wouldnít be great if every person in the world wrote about being the most creative and original and unbelievably talented band. That would feel great. Not everybody disses us, but there are some people who are more than excited to write bad things about us.

I think weíre pretty average people that I think do our jobs really well. We work well with melody and hooks and write good pop music and good rock music. And anything else you may be looking for may or may not be there. Weíre pretty decent guys. We havenít developed any major head problems. And maybe itís boring. And thatís the problem [with the press]. But what we do I think we do pretty damn well.

There are people who are going to write bad things about you, but 10 to 13 million people like it, and I think Iím sleeping well because of that.

...I donít think weíre trying to perform brain surgery here, nor do we ever claim to do that. We claim to write some great hooks and pretty fun songs and anything else thatís taken from the band in a negative tone doesnít bother me.

Me: Right on. That about does it. I appreciate the interview.

Gaynor: Thank you. Good luck to you.