Sound Bytes from Matchbox Twenty

BYLINE: Pam Pastor


"DO you want anything?" he asked as he stood up to get coffee, like any of your friends would when you'd hang out at Starbucks. But you're nowhere near Starbucks. You are in the Sharma room of Singapore's Grand Copthorne Hotel and the guy who just spoke is Paul Doucette, the drummer and percussionist of Matchbox Twenty.

The other members of the band - Rob Thomas (vocals, piano, acoustic guitar), Kyle Cook (lead guitar, vocals), Adam Gaynor (rhythm guitar, vocals) and Brian Yale (bass) -are in the other rooms, facing other journalists from the Asia-Pacific region.

Paul, with his printed shirt, tie and baseball cap combo succeeded in his anti-prep- sporty-grunge statement, if that really was one. He sits comfortably in the chair in front of you, his face a picture of relaxation. He remains at ease all throughout the conversation. He is candid and honest, you discover with joy. When the interview was over, he said, "Thank you. That was easy and painless." Just like it was for you. This is Paul...

...on Rob

"Musically he's the main songwriter in the band, he brings bulk of the material. He and I have been best friends for about 10 years. Just a hell of a nice guy. Very fidgety though. Very annoying to sit next to on a plane."

...on Kyle

"Kyle is probably the best all-around musician in the band. He plays piano, he plays guitar, obviously. He's kind of like our secret weapon. He's just a bad-ass guitar player. He's really really great. He's better at playing guitar than any of us are (on our own instruments). He's just kind of on a different level. He's real quiet but when he says something it's really funny. He'll never say anything and then all of a sudden you'd just hear this voice from the back. It's hysterical."

...on Brian

"Brian is a really great musician, a really solid bass player. But that's it. He wants nothing else. He's like, "I play bass. When I'm not playing bass, I play golf. That's it, that's what I want in life and I'm fine with that."

...on Adam

"Adam is (pauses) the entertainment factor, I guess. He's the one who makes the most jokes. He's a joker kind of guy. Very up, restless. If they don't get to spend a lot of time with him, people seem to really like him."

...on himself

"Me, musically, I write as well for the band. I play a couple of different instruments, especially in the last record. I'm generally the one who has the loudest opinion. I tend to handle most of our stuff."

...on getting annoyed with the other members of his band

"It switches off. One day it will be Adam, the next day it will be Kyle. Everyone gets their turn. We've been together 10 years. I've spent so much time with these guys, it's like family. Eventually, they're just gonna get on your nerves. Then you'd be like, just get away from me."

...on their recently released album "More Than You Think You Are"

"Our records in the past had a glossed over (sound), really produced, like you could really hear the studio. In this record, we wanted to take all that away. We just wanted a piano to sound like a piano and an electric guitar to sound like an electric guitar. We wanted the performances to feel like you were sitting in a room, listening to a band play instead of you know, people overdubbing. We tried to get as much of a live feel as possible on it. Just make it simple. With the last record "Mad Season" we had orchestras. Most of the songs on the record had an orchestra on it. We just went overboard. And we're like, you know what, let's just go on and make a record that's just a band, playing live."

...on his favorite song in the album

It changes all the time. Now, there's two moments on the record that I really really love. And I think it's two of the best moments ever put on a record. One is in a song called "Hand Me Down." Kyle has a solo at the end of the song which I think is just a beautiful beautiful solo. And I think it's the best moment in a Matchbox Twenty record without a doubt. Second, there's a song called "Soul." I really like it.

...on knowing when a song is good

You don't. You have to get a good feeling out of it. Sometimes you'll play something when you're writing it and you'd be like, that just drained me to sing it. That was just not fun. That wasn't a good experience. It's not pleasant to listen to. A lot of times I'd put those songs away - they need a lot more work. Sometimes you just get this feeling, wow, I really like that. And hopefully, you play it for the guys in your band and they'd say, hey, I really like that too. We walk into a studio with a lot of material and a lot of bits of songs and little ideas that we kind of bounce off each other. And a lot of it doesn't make it. If we all like the song, it goes on the record and hopefully other people will like it.

...on becoming better

"Every time we finish a record, we're always like, 'This is the best record, we've finally figured out what we do.' And we look back at the other records and yeah, we made mistakes in those records but this record, this is the one. So hopefully, in the next record, we'd be saying the same thing. We'd be like, what were we thinking, that was terrible, this is the good record. Our goal is that we want to become better musicians constantly. We want to become better songwriters. We want every record to be better than the last one. Not necessarily better like sell a lot more. We want to like it better. We're the harshest critics on ourselves. We can pick apart any little thing. I think the goal that we all have is to finally make a record where we're like, you know what, this is really good. And we get closer every time.

...on giving songs away

Rob and Mick Jagger had gotten together to write for Mick's last solo record and the night before, Rob wrote a song that he thought Mick Jagger would sound good singing. So he wrote most of Disease and the next day they got together and Mick added a couple of lines to the second verse. Then a couple of months later, Mick came to see us in London. We were playing and he came to the show and was

like, "You know what, my record's almost done and Disease just really doesn't fit in with everything so you guys should do it." And we were like, great. Rob played me the song before Mick said he wasn't going to use it. He was like, this is the song I just gave Mick Jagger. I was like, why would you give that song away? Your priority should the band. But we got it back.

...on always doing something new

I get bored really easily. So I always want to try something different. It doesn't matter what it is. Once you've done something a certain way, you've already done it that way. Why do it again?

...on taking time off

After we're done with this record, we're all gonna split off for a little bit. Rob's gonna do a record, I'm gonna do a record, Kyle has this band that he has on the side that he's gonna do a record with. We've all allowed ourselves solo time before we get back together and make a record again.

...on being a celebrity

The whole press and celebrity thing, it's part of the job and we understand that, but it's not why we do it. It's not why I do it. If you really break it down, it's kinda stupid. We're just guys in a band. We're glad you like the music and we're more than happy to talk to people about the making of the record but it really stops there.

..on their clean image

We had our time when we were kind of a hell raiser but no one knew who we were at that time so no one talked about it. And by the time people knew who we were, we were all married. I'm married now. It's just boring. You're gonna wreck a hotel room, now you've got to sit in a hotel room that's wrecked and you've got to pay for it. That's just stupid. Throw the TV out the window, now you can't watch the Simpsons.

...the best thing about being in Matchbox Twenty

We all get to do what we love to do for a living. I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay my electric bill. That's a wonderful thing. To be able to be a musician and not have that. It's a wonderful wonderful thing. I can strictly concentrate on music.

...on art

If I weren't in music, I'd be into photography. I wouldn't mind directing. I dabble in a lot of stuff. Art is a passion.

...on the worst movie ever made

Without a doubt, it's one of the worst movies ever made but everyone should see it, 'AI.' It's so bad. Everyone should see it. I think Steven Spielberg is a great filmmaker. It's so much more interesting to watch someone who's really good at what they do fail than to watch someone really bad at what they do just do what they do. I would much rather watch Steven Spielberg make a really bad movie because when he does it's the worst movie ever. And people should see that.

...on reality TV shows like "American Idol"

My worry about that is it's bringing the quality of entertainment down. That American Idol person, yes maybe they can sing, maybe they can perform, but the money that's gonna go to promote that record is now not going to a band that writes their own songs and that can further pop culture. You need to develop a band. I think that's wrong. You're getting so many of these shows on television that people aren't being creative. They're saying how do we make a show that's gonna make us a lot of money that we don't have to spend a lot of money on. That's sad. But on the flipside, sometimes they're really funny.

...on being happy

I'm fascinated by people who can feel genuine joy about small things. That just amazes me because I don't have that ability. That song is based on why can't I do that. It was around the same time a lot of really positive things were happening to the band and I wasn't really all that excited about it. I didn't really understand why. But yeah, I'm much happier now.

Thanks to Warner Music Philippines.