By Paul Cashmere
Matchbox Twenty is a career band. That's a rare statement to say about current acts these days. After forming in Florida in 1996, Matchbox Twenty went on to record what is now one of the biggest selling albums of all time 'Yourself Or Someone Like You'. That record alone has sold over 10 million units.
It doesn't stop there, either. The follow-up Mad Season and the current album "More Than You Think You Are" have also earned Platinum status. What's interesting is that they have done it all on the music alone. The band members are rarely written about in the tabloids and can easily wander down the street without often being recognised by fans. It sounds like a happy medium. Success without the trappings.
Although frontman Rob Thomas is the public face of the band, it is the 5 members who contrbute equally to the operations of the group. After they finish touring More Than You Think You Are, there will be some exciting individual projects happening in the band.
Adam Gaynor is the rhythm guitarist and sings back-up vocals in the band. He kindly offered to join Undercover and donate some great conversation to the interview as well as answer some of the questions you the fans sent in. He spoke with Undercover's Paul Cashmere.
Paul Cashmere: The first time you came here it was before the success.
Adam Gaynor: It was before everyone knew they were going to start buying it.
PC: 'Push' had just taken off.
AG: That's what made it take off, that Push thing.
PC: So now seven years down the track you are Matchbox Inc. Are you comfortable with the corporation that has built up around you?
AG: Oh come on, it's not a giant corporation. It is just five idiots running around the world and making music and having a good time trying to keep their craft together as remotely humanly possible as they can. Having a good time and working pretty hard and then sometimes not working hard is the beauty of this band. When we are all together we do what we do. We try and keep it together. Then when we are separated everybody does their thing as well. That is cool too. It is like having duel lives.
PC: There must be pressures on you as a performer these days that you wouldn't have even preconceived when the first record came out.
AG: I thought the first album, here is the truth…the reason I joined this band was because of who I call the three originals. That would be the drummer, the bass player and the singer. (You can insert their names). Those guys had the gig with that other band. When I met the singer (insert name here) he was playing on his couch in Orlando when I went to audition for the band. The producer called me when I was working answering phones in a studio. When I heard him sing I knew it was pretty good. The kid knew what he was doing and was actually appealing to me. I'm a commercial music kind of guy, kind of mainstream guy. After listening to some stuff and going through contracts, I had a lawyer go through things (name withheld) and I thought this band had potential. He is telling me don't worry about this and I'm like "you are not a good lawyer because I want my paperwork in a row and I think this band will sell 4 million albums" (or something ridiculous). I really did. I told everyone 4 million and it sold 10 million. I would really have hoped for one or two but I felt if I really enjoyed what I was doing and it made sense the only thing that could screw it up would be fate, like the label not doing anything or us not doing anything. Fate was kind to us. The music was good and I thought Rob as an artist was good and doing what we did was pretty good. I didn't think it sucked. The other guys would have been happy if we went Gold but I thought from the beginning we would do well. Not cocky wise. I just tried to be smart about the whole deal but I really felt something in my heart that something was going to happen.
PC: What about the personality dynamics in the band, does being older than the other guys in the band matter?
AG: In the Fall we have the Steel Wheelchair tour. It is going to be the Crutches and Bridges tour onto Babylon. I think I try to state my opinion and they ignore it and that is why we get along.
PC: As you brought up the topic of the Rolling Stones …
AG: Yeah, those kids, those children. It's funny because I'm the only one in the band older than Mick. It is weird.
PC: … did you have any involvement with him when you recorded 'Disease'?
PC: No, in the studio.
AG: I am heterosexual but we have all experimented like David Bowie and Mick Jagger. Huh? I mean as far as watching cricket naked with other men. That’s weird. If you print that my girl, my fiancé is going to say “what’s wrong with you”. I’ll say “Honey, it was Australia and I was eating a fruit bowl. Um … oh yeah the question was about Mick. No, we didn't have anything to do with him. Rob actually called us. The call went "I was hanging out in Mick's apartment" and we were like "Oh wow, man …". That's so cool. He was hanging out with Mick. They just worked a little bit. Rob was going over to meet Mick and he didn't want to go there empty handed so he started writing 'Disease'. Mick came up with the "You throw me to the fire and left me there to burn" line. I think that was it in the whole song. He wrote it for Mick. He actually recorded it to whatever demo version he had and gave it to Mick. Mick was making a solo album and the end of story is Mick said to Rob "I think this might be better for you. I really like the song a lot but you should do it". I think after Rob had finished the song in his heart he wanted to keep the song. In the end he gave him another song, so Rob had a song on Mick's album and Kyle actually did a guitar part. Rob got 'Disease' back and as a band we did it. It is a pretty good song.
PC: Do you know if there is a Mick Jagger version in existence? Did it ever get as far as him recording it?
AG: The truth is I don't know that. I don't know if Rob knows if he went into the studio to demo it and it didn't sound right. That's a really good question. I will follow up on that when I see young Thomas later.
PC: Kyle worked in Mick's album but I've never heard of you doing sessions with anyone outside the band.
AG: I don't consider myself a studio kind of guy. I write some fab songs, I think. I'm a pretty mainstream writer. I have just started to send some things out this year. I am weird with that. I am meticulous. As a band we have recorded a song of mine that almost made it on the album. I've been finishing it up and editing because we worked on it for half a day. I have a really good song that I am excited about. I have some country stuff that I have sent to people and got some really good feedback back. That's going to be my deal, I think … publishing. I will do a couple of songs here and there but more next year I will be working on doing some TV stuff that I'm really excited about. My next phase will be to do things like that where I can use my personality and do things that are fun for me to do. That's what I have been working on recently and that is actually the first extra-curricular activity that I am going to focus on and do. I'll have songs to send out. I'll publish a handful of songs but I am really excited about doing some TV things and putting together a team to do that. I will have my hands full next year doing that. That is a great challenge.
PC: What sort of TV stuff?
AG: The thing I am working on is one of those hush-hush until I'm finished things. It is a reality based thing that I am hosting and running around like an idiot on and then maybe you'll learn something from it at the end of the day and maybe you will laugh a lot. I think it is going to be relatively entertaining and I'm excited about it.
PC: What is the name of the song you wrote for the album that didn't make it?
AG: It is called 'Stuck'. I really love it. I absolutely think it is a great pop song and will do well. Consider the publishing and the songwriting my little nest-eggs. There are the two country songs that I love and I'm in the process of having a friend re-arrange it. Before I send them out to different publishers I want to clean them up. I think I have some pretty good commercial, mainstream pop stuff and some really good pop contemporary country stuff.
PC: Will you release an Adam Gaynor solo album?
AG: That is a weird question. I think in all honesty when I started with the band it was a dream of mine. I envisioned myself as being an artist and being a singer / songwriter. Meeting Rob and getting into Matchbox was a blessing in that I have had a good career and life inside of Matchbox Twenty but also knowing that I'm reaching an age where do I really want to start again from baby steps and go out with a whole new crew, putting a band together and doing the whole solo performance thing? I don't know. I can make a record for sure one day if I can't get rid of these songs that I think can do good for other people. I think for my own ego and soul, maybe I would have to record something. I think if I did it tomorrow and I had an abundance of material it would make a pretty damn good album. Is it what I want to do? I don't know. The TV thing to me is so much more attractive and easier for me to get into. Writing a song for me is a Dr Frankenstein process of foreverness and never letting something go. Being my idiot self is much easier than painting something someone else will have to sing and enjoy. The long winded answer is maybe someday I will do it but I'm also going to be 87 years old soon so … who knows if that is the thing I want to be involved with. Maybe!
PC: It will be interesting for you next year driving down the road and hearing Rob's solo record on the radio, Kyle's record and, well I don't know if we will hear Paul's because he'll tells me he is going to do what he wants and only 5 people will get to hear it.
AG: Paul surprises me with his writing. At first I would figure his stuff would be very anti-radio, anti-commercial. Then you hear his melodies and he has got the melodies but then you hear his arrangements and he goes left-field of what would make it accessible to radio. When he is done he is going to be the one that keeps it from being accessible to the masses but for his heart, if that is what he wants to do, it will be whatever he feels like. If he wants to make cash of it, he might have to curtail it, but if he wants to do it for his heart then he is equally as impressive.
PC: You've been doing some really interesting covers lately. The first time you were here you did Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time'. I've got this list hear of songs you have recently done live. 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' by Tears for Fears for a start. Is that one of your favourites?
AG: No. I will put myself as 'Not In Charge of the Cover Committee'. Adam Gaynor (G.A.Y.N.O.R.) says that he doesn't pick them. I actually enjoy the Tears for Fears song because it reminds me of the Dennis Miller theme. I would say that for most of our covers other than the Cyndi Lauper one and a Marvin Gaye one (from the second album tour), other than that, I am not particularly happy with the 80s cover moments we do but who cares. Everybody wants to do a cover and I think it is more to appease the band than to appease the fans. That is my theory.
PC: What about U2's 'Where The Streets Have No Name'?
AG: That comes off pretty fun too. That was one of those I wasn't too sure about but it comes off well.
PC: Bowie's 'Changes'?
AG: Bowie 'Changes' is fun too. Maybe I am enjoying the songs but they are just songs that I would have thought. I just want to go right for an Oasis song. Go totally mainstream and just do what they did and just rock it out.
PC: Good to see you do Wings 'Jet'. We have a band here in Melbourne named after that song.
AG: We didn't do that song in rehearsal yesterday. We need to do that. Would Paul McCartney go over well here?
PC: U2 would go down better. I was talking about the fact we have a band here called Jet.
AG: Kids would know 'Jet' though wouldn't they?
PC: I do, but who are you performing to, the kids or me?
AG: The Children of the Earth I call them. That's like 40 to zero, the Children of the Earth.
PC: 'Bright Lights' is the next single. How do you pick a single? Is it a group discussion?
AG: Yes. And I like to think of all the dumb things I do I like to be involved in lobbying for these things. Now most of our decisions start with the 5 of us. It is a good democracy. You always have to listen to Rob because he is the focal point and frontman for this band. I would hope his opinion favours heavily being the primary songwriter. I think it also comes down to the 5 of us making decisions. Then the label will say what they want to hear. Then our producer, who has a good commercial ear will say something. Sometimes even our publisher will say something. Sometimes you send things out to be tested if you aren't sure and it becomes a big melting pot of confusion because suddenly you have 14% of people say this, 17% say this but then 30% of the band wants to do this. What it ultimately comes down to is the 5 of us. If we have a very strong love for a single, for example 'Bent', we were all adamant about that. I wasn't sure if the label wanted it to be the first song and we did and it turned out to be our only #1 song. I think 'Disease' was a good song to put out first because I didn't necessarily think it was going to be the biggest hit in the world but I thought it was good to have an edge with us coming out of a box. 'Unwell' was a great song and I knew the Children of the Earth would enjoy it. I think 'Bright Lights' is a great successor to that, personally speaking. You may have a parallel of quietness for a moment but at the end it has a big build with a dynamic of some 70s big rock. 'Bright Lights' is one of the better tracks on the album for mass appeal, as is 'Unwell'. That's just my opinion. That's what my heart feels.
PC: Are there many leftovers from the last three albums of songs that haven't made the albums that could be on a rarities album one day?
AG: Honestly, I think the only thing that was every finished is maybe one song 'Suffer Me', I think. I don't know if it ended up as a B-side. 'Suffer Me' is a song we have in the can. There is a Kyle song that didn't make the last album. There is a Paul song that didn't make this album and my song as well that are in the can but not necessarily finished. 'Suffer Me' is the only one that was finished.
PC: We asked the fans to send in some questions …
AG: What are the kids up too? Hi guys. I am eating watermelon, children.
PC: Anna says "you have baby-heads on your amps when you play live. Do they have names or are they just Baby Head and does the band find them odd?"
AG: Baby Head is Baby Head. That is his name. Baby Head is my buddy from the beginning of the band and is basically one. On one tour I had a bunch, like if somebody throws one at me at the show I will put them up there but Baby Head is Baby Head and he keeps me company of stage. I take him around and I'm very happy to have him with me. The guys, I guess they have got used to them. They'll think what is wrong with Adam. He is the oldest band member but acts like he 10. They got used to me and Baby Head got to stay too.
PC: From Larkspur, Is Close To You by The Carpenters really your favourite song?
AG: I'm switching over to pineapple for the readers. No, what the hell is that reference? Where did that come from? Is that "just to be close to you"?
PC: No, "why do birds suddenly appear".
AG: Oh wow, that one. I like that one when I meet a strange person that I haven't met before and I just sing it to them. "Why do birds" … he breaks into song "suddenly appear". I think it is just a nice song that makes people feel good unless you are alone at a bar with a guy singing it to him.
PC: From Jayne C from Ft Lauderdale and Carol from Charleston, Mindy O "My best friend and I were in the audience the night of July 1st when you came out to announce that Rob was having problems with his throat and would not be able to perform that night. I heard you say "hold on to your tickets - we will be back". What went wrong?
AG: What went wrong was nothing. You don't want people to be upset. It wasn't a trick that I was saying because we didn't want a riot. I actually nearly broke down during that little speech because it was really hard for me to look into the audience and feel all the energy and watching people sucked dry at that one moment. Standing on the stage talking to 8,000 people regardless of how 'not dramatic this was' I felt the collective sign and felt people all around. There was a girl in front who started crying and I almost lost it. I was getting choked up. Talking to you now about it gets me emotional because I actually care about people. I cared enough to go out there and not let the production manager make that announcement. I wanted someone from the band to get out there and say we were really sorry and that this is the first time in 800 shows this has ever happened. We will do everything in our power to get back there but some things are out of our control, like going overseas and having touring commitments, it just didn't happen. I don't know if we can go home from Australia and play Ft Lauderdale but logistically speaking it just wasn't about to happen at this point. I apologize if it seemed misleading because that is what I am imagining that people are very upset think we let them down. I hope they don't feel that. It was a very bizarre situation out of our control. When Rob misses one of 800 shows I would hope people can understand that. We will try and do something. I will stand on top of my guys to make sure we do something. The last thing I want is be known as an ass for going out and making false promises.
PC: Shadow asks "Does have any pets and if so what are their names"?
AG: Besides my parents? I am highly allergic to dogs and cats, which sucks. When I was young I had a poodle which was like the only thing besides a Maltese that doesn't shed. I love dogs and my in-laws up in Orlando (when I propose and she accepts) my in-laws to be have this great Labrador retriever that I play with, usually through the glass. It is a really bad allergy.
I've had lizards and newts growing up as a kid. I love riding horses. That is a passion. I can play with horses and pigs but basically I don't have pet pets right now. I have fictitious pets like stuffed animals that I take with me and talk to.
PC: Jaclyn from Wisconsin says "You're playing all songs off "More than You Think You Are" except "The Difference," Will it ever make an appearance on the setlist?"
AG: It almost made it in Australia. I believe that will come up in The Fall in The States because we would like to play it. It is one of the only songs we haven't brought out. I think it will make an appearance in The Fall. It is funny because I think we are very conscious of our set knowing how many slow or uptempo songs we have. We would rather add an uptempo song before adding mid-tempo or slow songs. I think 'The Difference' since you are asking about it, the first time I heard Rob sing that in the studio it brought back visions of the first album and his writing style. I remembered every reason why I loved Rob's writing when I heard that song. It was one of the most moving of all the new stuff. It is such a picturesque Rob Thomas song. It is so beautiful.
PC: Mare West asks "Did you get to read through the two Books of Love that were given to you?? Did you enjoy them? The Books of Love were 180 pages filled with LOVE from all over the world".
AG: I have a suggestion (and if Pookie is reading this it is okay) please stop giving them to Pookie because I never see them. I think he has all the books. So, thanks Pookie. I love relating to the kids and would love to grab one of those books and take it home but I think Pookie has the books so I didn't see it. I will go over to his house in Ft Lauderdale and break in and check it out.
PC: Jasmin asks "Are you a fan of any Australian artists? If so, who?".
AG: I think you'd go with Greg Norman, who has a wonderful singing voice. Paul Hogan, that guy has a throat on him and then you would move to Luke Longley although I heard he can't really carry a tune. Did you mean musical artists? My bad. Bob Denver, no John Denver…
PC: John Denver was married to an Australia.
AG: Really? Oh Olivia. Is she Australian?
PC: She lives right here in Melbourne.
AG: Are you sure she spends time here or is just saying that for taxes? In the Rod Laver Arena they have these pictures in the lounge and they named the lounge after this guy. The guy is adorable. His name is Farnham. If you take a desert island and flew in this Johnny Farnham and bring in Johnny Tesh … I don't know anything about Farnham other than he is huge in Australia. He has like 197 albums. I saw them on a wall. The whole wall was covered and then there was this basement trap-down that you go down and there is still 7,000 more albums in there. Supposedly he sold over 1 million tickets in the Rod Laver Arena alone. I am well briefed in this Farnham guy. If I need a guy to play at my wedding in Australia it will be Farnham. I know it will be expensive and he'll wear a nice pressed white shirt that I saw in the picture. If all the readers of Undercover magazine love the Farnham, I truly respect that. But if they don't like him then they should write our website and tell me why. I would like to know more about the Farnham. I would like to know where he grew up. I would like to know his wishes, wants and dreams and if he has any pets or animals.
PC: Kristina asks "What is your favourite album to the date? What are your favourite songs from each album?"
AG: As far as favorite album of all-time, I have no idea. My influences being young were like Yes, George Benson, Michael Jackson and James Taylor. I really like the Counting Crows. For the Matchbox stuff, the first album I would go with 'Push' because that was the song that made me really want to join the band. Second album, I don't know and this album, who knows. If I had to say favorite album I'd say the first album because it is like your first baby. It is going to spit up a lot and defecate in its pants a lot but … (What is wrong with me). Let's say first album if for no other reason that it did well. Favourite song, maybe 'Push' but that Rob Thomas writes a lot of good songs.
PC: Pokie (now that's a great Australian name) says he gave you a boomerang when you were last in Australia and wants to know if you have mastered it?
AG: Oh God I love that. Yes, here is the deal. Every time the pizza guy is 20 minutes late I wait for him to give me the pizza, I give him a very undeserving tip, like instead of $5 or $7, I'll give him $2.73. Then on the way out I will throw the boomerang at his ass and the thing doesn't really come back to me but the next time he comes he is like 7 minutes early. So thank you for the boomerang.
PC: Jess wants to know what you think of people naming their animals after you?
AG: I get that a lot. I don't know who would name their dog Adam.
PC: Maybe Adam the Ant?
AG: Oh yeah an ant farm. You can actually identify one of them specifically. If someone had a porpoise in their bath-tub that would be cool.
PC: Nichole Roy asks "what is your favourite movie".
AG: I like a good movie. You can look at 'Silence of the Lambs' and know that was a really well written book but Shawshank Redemption to me left a really good impression. That was a pretty damn good entertaining thing. There are probably better Sundance, culty movies. As far as history is concerned I'm sure there are better movies but for me Shawshank Redemption is definitely in my Top 50.
Undecover Presents Matchbox Twenty in Australia
Friday July 25 Melbourne Rod Laver Arena
Saturday July 26 Melbourne Rod Laver Arena
Sunday July 27 Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Tuesday July 29 Newcastle Entertainment Centre
Wednesday July 30 Sydney Entertainment Centre
NEW: Thursday July 31 Sydney Entertainment Centre
Saturday August 2 Brisbane Entertainment Centre