Without Thomas, Pizza Hut's a possibility for Matchbox

By Graham Rockingham, Hamilton Spectator (Ontario, Canada)

Adam Gaynor spends a lot of time talking about Rob Thomas. He'd probably prefer talking about his own career, but such is life.

Gaynor is the rhythm guitarist and background vocalist for Matchbox Twenty. Thomas is the lead singer and principal songwriter. He's also a superstar. Gaynor is not.

Gaynor, like the other members of the band, is also a songwriter. He keeps writing songs and offering them to the band for use on albums. They always seem to get rejected. Thomas is just too prolific and his songs are just so much better than everyone else's.

"It's a little frustrating at times because you have a lot of people in the band who write pretty good songs," Gaynor said in an interview from Greensville, S.C., the second date on the band's current North American tour for the album More Than You Think You Are.

"At the same point, there isn't any charity in this band. You can't expect to have a song on the album just because you're a member of the band."

It's the kind of situation that makes you wonder how long this band can stay together. Ever since Thomas took some time off to record with Carlos Santana, taking home a bundle of Grammies for his trouble, Gaynor and the other members of Matchbox Twenty have been pretty much along for the ride.

"Rob is a talented and very wonderful songwriter," Gaynor says. "I almost cried when he won all those freakin' Grammies that year. I was watching him on TV just like any kid in America and I almost lost it. He's like my brother. A lot of people ask, 'Don't you get envious?' But how can you be jealous of a person who's so talented and does what he does."

Matchbox Twenty has sold more than 20 million albums since its debut in 1996. The band's current single, Unwell (written by Thomas, of course), has probably received more airplay than any other single by any other band this year. Their popularity continues to climb. Last month, they sold out Wembley arena in London. On Wednesday, they come to Copps Coliseum.

Despite Thomas' fame, the band likes to think of itself as a tight-knit unit, especially on tour.

"I think most of all we're really proud of our live rock shows," Gaynor says. "We work really hard to portray and emulate the records with a little more intensity than what you're hearing listening to the record."

Gaynor turns 40 next month. He's the eldest member of the band, almost nine years older than Thomas. Yet, even when talking about the band's live show, he defers to the lead singer.

"What Rob likes to say is that we just want everyone to leave everything outside for a couple of hours and just have a good time," Gaynor continues. "We really enjoy doing what we do and we hope that the people who come see us enjoy it half as much as we do."

They've been pushing the current tour for the better part of a year. It draws to a close toward the end of December. At that point, the band members will take a long break, probably a year, before deciding their future.

Gaynor is very direct when asked what would happen if Thomas decided to leave Matchbox Twenty.

It's something he's thought about a great deal.

"Then we all have to, as individuals, rise to the occasion or we're going to be working at Pizza Hut," he says. "I always look at each album as absolutely the last ... I'm not going out and buying Rolls-Royces right now, brother, I'm planning for the future."