Today Show On-Stage Interview Transcript

MATT LAUER, co-host:

Back in 1996 Matchbox Twenty was another struggling rock 'n' roll group hoping to make it big. Well, now three albums later and record sales of about 20 million, seems like mission's accomplished. And they're joining us now as part of our SUMMER CONCERT SERIES. Rob Thomas, Kyle Cook, Paul Doucette, Adam Gaynor, Brian Yale and Matt Beck, who's on keyboard, nice to have you here, guys.

Good to see you, Rob.

Mr. ROB THOMAS (Matchbox Twenty): Thank you.

LAUER: You said recently in some article or some interview that the--one of the keys to your success is that the group is not hip.

Mr. THOMAS: Yeah.

LAUER: What do you mean by that?

Mr. THOMAS: I think--I think, you know, like we've never put any focus on attaching an image to our band or our sound. And it's always been based on just a good group of songs and trying to make the best record we can. And I think because there's never been that period where it was like just really hip to be us, we were on every magazine cover or anything like that, we've just managed to maintain a career under the radar.

LAUER: Trying to think about 1996. You guys came on to the scene, grunge was just ending.

Mr. THOMAS: Yeah.

LAUER: What kind of pressures were on the group to try to fit into a mold or something like that?

Mr. THOMAS: You know, there was none. Because the kind of music we were making it wasn't the music that was on the radio, so we figured we weren't going to be successful anyway, so let's just make the record and go have a good time in doing it, you know.

LAUER: I was reading reviews of the latest CD, and--and it was weird because they were so different. Some of the reviews said, 'OK, this is the Matchbox Twenty music we've grown to love.' Others said, 'It's completely different...

Mr. THOMAS: Yeah.

LAUER: ...from anything we've ever heard.' Where do you come down on that?

Mr. THOMAS: Well, I mean, I think we kept the same sensibility. I mean, we kept it being about the songs. You know, whatever the best songs we were writing at the time. And then because we have all been playing together for so long, we've gotten, you know, we're coming into our 30s, we are, we're different people now. We play a lot differently. So I think that it's--it's a better musician record than--than any record we've made before.

LAUER: When you write son--you write for yourself and for the band.

Mr. THOMAS: Yeah.

LAUER: All right. So how do you figure out what's a song for Rob Thomas and what's a song for Matchbox Twenty?

Mr. THOMAS: You--you don't make that decision. Like, when I--when you're in Matchbox world, everybody takes their best songs, and that goes on the table. Like, you don't hold anything. That--that's forbidden here in the world.

LAUER: And so when you come out with a good solo song, they don't look at you and want to drag you in the closet and pummel you a little bit?

Mr. THOMAS: No, I--because you know what? Anytime that I'm writing for Matchbox, I don't write for anything else, you know? And I think that everybody, like, we all work in between. Ky--Kyle has a side band called the New Left, and Paul's working on some solo stuff in between records. So, like when we're off, that's what we do. But when we're on, that's where all of our attention goes.

LAUER: Well, we're glad you're here in our nice, warm, balmy condition...

Mr. THOMAS: It's nice.

LAUER: in Rockefeller Center.

Mr. THOMAS: It's nice.

LAUER: What are you going to sing now?

Mr. THOMAS: We're going to do "Bent."

LAUER: OK. Ladies and gentlemen, Matchbox Twenty.

(Matchbox Twenty performs "Bent")

LAUER: Matchbox Twenty. And they'll be back later in the show with another song.

Guys, thanks very much.

We're back right after these messages.