London Free Press (Ontario, Canada)

Matchbox twenty is still hot -- in a friendly, easy-going way.

The U.S. rock band has sold more than 20 million albums around the world. But the Matchbox men still walk on stage with the lights up for everyone to see if that is what feels right to them.

There is no fakery to be found in this mainstream pop-rock band, still able to ride its 1996 breakthrough album, Yourself or Someone Like You.

Lead singer, hunk and sought-after songwriter Rob Thomas, lead guitarist Kyle Cook, rhythm guitarist Adam Gaynor, bassist Brian Yale and drummer Paul Doucette are proving the sophomore slump suffered with their second album, 2000's Mad Season, was just a blip. It still sold four million copies and now has been followed by another mega-hit, More Than You Think You Are (Atlantic/Warner).

In turn, the tour that brings Matchbox Twenty to the John Labatt Centre tomorrow night, will lead to a hiatus and individual quality time for the fivesome.

"These are my brothers . . . it's just so exciting to see everybody take their own talents and put it into their own lives just for a little while. Then we always come back as Matchbox and do our own thing," Gaynor says.

Unwell, the second single from More, has been the only pop-rock song in North American radio Top 10. Unwell also has occupied the No. 1 spot on the adult Top 40 chart for 18 weeks and holds the record for most spins at that format.

The hit is the latest in the Matchbox line. According to monitoring service Nielsen BDS, Matchbox Twenty has spawned more No. 1 songs and spent more weeks atop the modern adult-contemporary and adult Top 40 charts than any other artist or group.

The band's other hit singles include Push, 3AM, If You're Gone, Mad Season and Bent. In addition, Thomas has received a number of songwriting honours, including three Grammys.

Other band members are bringing their own songs to the mix, too, even if, as Gaynor says, they're not singles.

"Rob writes such strong songs . . . it really only strengthens the band," Gaynor says in answering the inevitable questions about the success of Thomas as a solo artist and how this plays with the band's psyche. "Rather than talking about Rob, I think it would be cool to talk about the rest of the guys in the band that have a decent amount of talent but honestly have not won (all those) Grammys or written hits for everybody from Mick Jagger to Santana to God knows who."

During the hiatus, Gaynor predicts his Matchbox brothers will be busy with solo recording, songwriting projects, movies and TV. He expects to write more songs himself and see which artists might be interested in them.

Gaynor also has a TV project in mind. Until the TV plans are in focus, he is reluctant to be too specific, but says it will be fun and informative.

"I would call it educational, yet a little nuts, because that's kind of what I do," Gaynor says. "The beautiful thing is it's totally me no matter what the hell I do because I'm just a little nuts when I get the camera in my hand or (I'm) on the camera."

No one should get the idea that the hiatus is anything other than a pause in the Matchbox march. Following concert triumphs in such places as Malaysia, Australia and England -- where the band rocked Wembley stadium -- Matchbox Twenty is ready for a rest and then plans to prepare for its next chapter. The band's tour runs till December, when the hiatus is likely to begin.

"It's one of those moments when you're catching your breath and you know it's the final run . . . then re-charge a little bit and see what happens with Matchbox Twenty and what happens for the next ride," Gaynor says